It started when good friends A+R were in Dunedin briefly from London. We went into Great Wall Takeaways to get a can of L&P, and who was serving but Jenny G from my high school soccer team!
I had been pleasantly surprised to not see too many ex-Bayfielders in 2012. In 2010 or 2011 (I can no longer remember), I was walking along near the Greenwich Observatory in London with old high school friend Jenny S, when we saw someone with a familiar gait walking towards us. Todd F! I’ve known him since kindy! It was strange to see him, and Ryan O, and others from my childhood in London – on the other side of the world – and yet no-one in Dunedin. Clearly they’d mostly gotten some sense into them and left the hometown. It was definitely time for me to leave again, too. But not before running into Andy B.
At first I didn’t recognise him. It took a while to register who it actually was – I had no reason to believe he would be in Dunedin… ever again. But it was awesome to catch up with him. His tales of New York City filled me with envy (though all that hard work to get a Masters in Astrophysics from Columbia University didn’t). It was just so unexpected, and I really enjoyed talking to him again after so many years. I had been a little hurt when contact with him petered out to nothing in our first few years of university, but turns out we’re just both crap at keeping in touch.
I was also glad to catch up with Harley M again before leaving Dunedin, though he was never a Bayfielder. Turns out there are things about Dunedin I will miss. I didn’t get a chance to sit down with Josh K, but did see Neil A and Fiona G and Tris. Oh, and at the morning tea with the mayor I was invited to in my last week (just casually), I saw Mrs F, Todd’s mum!
My first stop outside of Dunedin was Ranfurly, to see BM, the first boy I’ve properly liked in a long time. Unfortunately we only met about a month before I moved away, but it was great to spend the weekend with him and see some of Central Otago’s quieter spots before heading north.
In Christchurch, I went to see my cousins and the babies, and stayed with uncle Pete. I feel a bit guilty about not seeing uncle Tony and Julia, but there have been so many times when seeing them meant I didn’t get to see Pete and the girls, so fair’s fair. I hate family rifts. I also got to see Trinyberry, another ex-Bayfielder, and our friend Sonia R-B. Triny shared the news that Wee Chicken from high school is now engaged (!) and that she herself is considering buying a house with her man! Big moves! I only spent one night in Chch because I wanted to make it to Takaka before my ferry on the 18th of December.
Why Takaka? It’s a bit out of the way, even if it is a great wee township. But my reason was to see Anah! We hadn’t seen each other in maybe 7 or 8 years, and I was pleased to have thought of looking up her parents in the phone book at home to find out where she was. It was so good to reconnect with another old friend, and although she talked it down, saying she’d taken the ‘boring’ path of study-career-house, I was very envious of her great house and amazing pets (cat, dog, horse and cow, although I didn’t get to meet the latter two). I love the path I took, of mixed up study and travel and work and drifting, but there are definitely things I would have liked that I gave up for it. Everyone needs to take their own path. I wish I’d had Anah’s drive and certainty about her future when we were at high school, but then I’d be a very different person today! And Anah, you will never be boring.
A smooth sailing between the two major islands of New Zealand landed me in our capital city the following day, and I met the amazing Anna, my host for the week. First thing she told me (after explaining how she had lost my phone number so wasn’t actually sure who I was, and had said I could stay at her place simply based on the fact that I seemed to know her due to friendly texts, but was secretly worried I might kill her in the middle of the night) was that she has a new boy! Now, if you know Anna, you know this is nothing new, but then she says she’s been seeing him for four months! That’s MUCH longer than her usual 2 week max, at which point she generally freaks out and pushes the boy away. THEN, it turns out I’ve known the guy since we were 11! Another ex-Bayfielder enters the picture (ex-Tahuna, too). Mike (who I’d always known as Michael) was one of the many twins in my year.
Then I got to see one of my favourites. We go waaaay back. Like, pre-kindy way back. So yes, another Bayfielder. Bex A Billion was one of my two female friends in Dunedin in 2012, until she moved to Wellington in May. Then my last female friend, Ellen, moved to Wellington as well, later in the year. Sadface. But I got to see her before she skipped back to Dunedin for Christmas, too, so I can’t really complain.
The next day, after reminiscing with Michael about Bayfield days, I was at Sweet Mother’s (Mmmm, Sweet Mother’s!) with Bex and Beautiful and Iain and Marky (yay, amazing catch up with uni friends), John Kerr just casually walked past. Bizarre string of coincidences!
I absolutely loved Wellington and all the good people there (including my sister and nephew in Upper Hutt), and was sad to leave, but excited to make the next trip to Palmerston North, to see my cousins and uncle and aunt, the latter being my Mum’s only sister, who is always an amazing host and makes everyone around her feel good all the time. The next week was a blur of Christmas and too much food and lazing in the pool and playing with two-year-old Max and more food and DVDs and swimming and more food. I will never get sick of visiting the Gunnings.
But again, it was time to move on. I had a lead on an amazing house to flat in in Tauranga, and I wanted to get there before someone else did.