02. All the places you've lived.
Elvington, Yorkshire. Palmerston North, Mt Maunganui, Blockhouse Bay, Glen Eden, Taipuha, Waiotira, Hamilton, Bayly's Beach, Gore, Waihue, Kirikopuni, Lumsden, Tangiteroria, Dargaville, Arapohue, Taumarunui, Tinui, Khandallah, Titahi Bay, Ngaio, Horokiwi, Crofton Downs, Wellington CBD.
That doesn't count all the different houses I lived in in each place. My family was semi-nomadic when I was a kid. My folks were always looking for something, and we moved on average every 2-3 years. The biggest move for them, I guess, was when they brought my brother and me as little kids halfway round the world to live in a country neither of them had ever seen before.
I have a letter that Mum wrote to Dad when he was looking for places to live in Auckland for the move from Mt Maunganui to Blockhouse Bay. It's full of how she misses him and how the kids were behaving, and how she hopes the leads he's chasing come to fruition. It's obvious how much they loved each other.
I have a memory of when we were looking for a house in the country on the move from Glen Eden to Taipuha. We were looking at a place and the landlord was there and Mum and Dad were being all respectable and "We'll look after your house" -ey and I ran in going "And there's a place up there where we could keep some goats and can I have a pony?" (hey, I was like 10). To everyone's credit, they ignored me and my folks got the house. It took another three years of convincing and asking and begging and being responsible about looking after chickens and building fences and clearing gorse, but eventually I got a pony. Actually, someone gave me one but it was unbroken and I didn't know what I was doing and couldn't even catch it. But I was lucky and found someone who could catch it. She bought it for enough to get me a pony I could actually ride. Casey was kept in a paddock Mum and Dad had helped me build, fencing in a bit of the side of the road. I had to fill his trough by hand and take him out daily to eat better grass on the end of a lead, but I had a pony. OMG.
The section that includes Bayly's Beach, Waihue, Kirikopuni, Lumsden, Tangiteroria, Dargaville, and Arapohue span the time I was with the YoT's father. We moved a lot. We got kicked out of the house in Kirikopuni because he'd decided the main bedroom needed redecorating and ripped all the wallpaper off down to the scrim one day, then left it like that. The landlord was not amused. I was actually ok with this because the house was spooky and the landlord was pervy and ew. Arapohue is where I went after I left. It wasn't far enough because he followed me. Ew again.
Tinui is where I got my shit together and spent a lot of time chasing sheep. I lived in two places in Tinui - first my brother's house, then another place called Rathmore where I had 7 acres. I would buy up 'handbag' lambs at weaning time - the mismothered ones that were tiny and skinny and you could pick them up like a handbag. They were $10 each. I'd put them on my little farm and give them TLC and more grass with less competition, and in 3-4 months they would have caught up with their mates and I'd sell them for $100. I also milked a house cow (sharemilking with her calf and another I'd mothered on), kept a pig (I hate pigs) and had chickens until they crapped in my porch, hid their eggs and ate my broccoli one too many times, then I fed them to the pig. There were also goats which really were escape artists - this was how I found out goats could climb trees, which my heading dog First found very confusing. And my horse, Topper. In the quest to earn sufficient money to keep living there, I found myself with no time to ride him, and I don't believe it's fair to keep a horse by himself if he's not being entertained. So I sold him cheap to a girl like me who desperately wanted a horse but didn't have a lot of money. Last I heard him and her were doing pretty well in the Masterton pony club. Paying it forward feels nice.
I moved to Wellington because I realised I was never going to get enough money to own my own farm by working on other people's. Now I live in the centre of the capital city of our country. That's not that big a thing really, Wellington's only got like 400,000 people or something. But yeah. Rathmore was 50km from the nearest town, now I have to travel for half an hour to get out of town.
Funny how things change.
I still want to go back to the country. But I want to go back on my terms, not running from an abusive shit of a situation, or because I've got nowhere else to go. I want to have money, and the time to enjoy where I am instead of working daylight to dark and then having to go home and milk the cow. And I want to be able to leave and do other things if I feel like it.
One day I'll get there.
Argh, now I want to move back to the country. *sigh* Partly I think it's because summer's coming - OMG daylight savings already whoah! There's something about the way the light falls at this time of year that makes me feel summery, and I have visions of those days in February when it's too hot to do anything and you can smell the heat on the grass, some people are still cutting hay and all the animals are shorn, dipped, dagged, dosed and sorted so you don't have to do anything. I picture dogs flopping about in the sunshine and happy cows and sheep lying in the shade chewing their cud, and me deciding between having a lazy afternoon in the garden or going to the beach.
Yes I know this is a romanticised view. But it's nice to dream, right?