In 2009 I started working two days a week as an administration intern at my university's arts organisation. I had never had that much money in my life, so I decided to buy tickets to Auckland to visit Stacey in July. When the trip rolled around, I had just started 'seeing someone' and this feeling that I always have to leave when things are 'getting good' in my life began.
By this time, Stacey was living right in the city near Karangahape road. This road is normally abbreviated to Krd and it is 'notable' for having a bunch of hip stores, vintage clothing stores and bars. Also there are some gay bars and TABs, a bunch of (what we would call them in Australia) derro people hanging around, plus prostitutes at night. She was living in this flat with her boyfriend Sam.
One of the first days I was there we were in the city and we went to an arcade. I encouraged Stacey to buy a matching woollen suit that seemed like it was probably from the eighties.
We went to a book club. People took names out of a hat and swapped books with that person. I swapped 'Disgrace' with Stacey's friend Brad and he gave me a very beautiful picture book about a fox, I do not remember the name of it at all. I also got 'Gertrude' by Herman Hesse from Stacey's friend Oxana
Oxana is holding the picture book that I borrowed. Brad suggested that I should read it to somebody I liked. I think he read it out to us at the book club. Oxana gave us a lift back into town that night.
We decided to go on a ferry to Waiheke Island. We picked a pretty nice day to go there. It was sunny and we ate fish and chips. We went on a walk to a vineyard. It was beautiful and there were sculptures around the gardens. It was a very sleek and modern building. Back in the town, we went into the art gallery. Attached to the gallery there was a piano museum. I liked this part a lot and I got to see one of those very old pianos that have black keys for white keys and white keys for black keys.
We went to a party with Stacey's friend Kiki and Sam's friend Matt. The party was themed, I think it was horror, so Stacey and Kiki did their makeup like zombies or something. Stacey had earmuffs because she was very cold. The party was at a very big posh house. There was a band playing. I wanted to explore the house. I think somebody fell over a beanbag in front of me. In my notebook of the time I made Stacey write: "I would never suck a dick - Kiki". I wrote "All I care about is oxygen and maccas - Stacey".
This trip was fairly 'low key' in comparison to my first visit to NZ. We went to see 3 movies. Two were part of the New Zealand Film Festival. The Film Festival movies were called 'Largo' and 'Examined Life'. The latter was a series of interviews with current philosophers about thinking. Or maybe there were topics, I do not remember. 'Largo' was about a club in a city where some people who I like a lot now seem to have 'become famous', maybe. This film made me feel very quiet and like I did not want it to end. There was a clip of Eliott Smith playing a song on piano.
Another movie we saw was 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince'. We got pods. I think I wanted to open them before the movie started. We saw the movie with Stacey's mum and her sister Kirsty. I had a panic attack when Dumbledore died, I remember feeling very scared because the panic attack wasn't only Harry Potter related.
Other times we were just hanging around the flat having a few drinks, smoking some weed and eating a lot of chips. One evening we watched 'Blackadder'. I had to sleep in Stacey's bed and I think she missed Sam because she would get out and cuddle him some nights which seems fair. They laughed and seemed 'in love'. Some nights I stayed up and waited until my 'person' came online, so sometimes I was antisocial and probably annoying on my up late on computer.
One of our final expeditions was going to the Auckland zoo. It was a pretty sunny day and we walked through a big park to get to the zoo. There were a lot of birds, especially chickens in this park. I found it weird that chickens were legit free range. At the zoo a chimp smiled at me. Stacey tried on silly hats in the gift shop. I bought a snow globe of a kiwi bird.
As we were leaving the zoo walking back through the park I felt really 'at ease', moreso than I had felt for the entire trip. We walked around a lake that had eels in it.