So this week I… experienced the effects of cartwheeling fences, faced up to my newest addiction, and expanded my birdcage.
This week we’ve had completely shit weather, including gale force winds. My thousand year old fence has withstood many a gale, including this latest buffeting. What it couldn’t withstand though, was an entire section of one of my neighbour’s fence cartwheeling through it. Yep, that pretty much put paid to it. I was awakened early Saturday morning to the sound of my 96 year old neighbour (not the one with the cartwheeling fence) PROPPING MY DOWNED FENCE BACK UP! This gentleman is downright awesome. Also, apparently immortal. When I bought my place 13 years ago, he was 83 and had cancer. He’s still here. Over the years he has watched out for me in all manner of ways – from digging up ivy roots to chopping stray wisteria, waving hello and generally being a great neighbour. This latest gale-induced incident saw us in the driveway chatting about the damage. I think because I had a strapping young fellow with me, who is going to repair the damage, dear old George was eager to tell us his life story. His father brought him to New Zealand from Croatia in the 1930s (he still has his accent). He’s spent most of his working life working in the Deli community – orchards, trades and such – met and married his wife (now 90) and raised a family. Every week he walks to the shops to do a little grocery shopping for her. She cooks, he putters in their garden. It’s an ordinary life, but with so much extraordinary in it – good people, committed partners, and many tales to tell, I’m sure. I’m pretty lucky to know them, even a little.
From good neighbours to good obsessions… Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone from playing Pokemon Go to playing PoGo’s smarter, older, more interesting big sister – Ingress. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but this one has me hooked. Like PoGo, but to an even greater extent, you have to get off your butt and go play the game in real life. It’s also highly strategic, team play becomes essential, you’re competing against enthusiastic players of the opposite ‘faction’ in NZ, plus thousands of players globally. It is way, WAY more interesting than Pokemon Go. Way more. I’ve met new people in my faction (Enlightened – we’re the best, yes we are), gone out to dinner and the movies with them, jumped into cars in the dark, walked around downtown Auckland with total strangers, and even gone out BY MYSELF!
This is a really big thing for me. Until I got into Ingress, I had no idea how small my world had shrunk. I couldn’t even go to my mailbox after dark without feeling some trepidation. Yes, that might seem ridiculous, but fear of the unknown (or what might happen) had slowly chipped away at my confidence, until I didn’t feel safe unless I was at work or home. Going outside the pattern of my daily commute induced a not-insignificant amount of anxiety, even just around town. Not that I felt trapped, but the awareness of losing something important was hovering, and more often. In just a few weeks, I’m now boldly meeting new people, going into town and walking around, and more recently, I’m testing myself by going to places alone to play the game – I never knew there were so many parks and reserves around Auckland! So. Many.
This weekend I went to Henderson Creek Park and wandered all over it. By my lonesome, capturing and hacking portals, taking photos of the creek and generally marvelling at the fact that not only did I never even know it was there (wtf!), but I wasn’t worried about being there alone, doing my own thing. There were loads of people around, kids playing at one of the several playgrounds, people biking the paths and trails, people wandering around and chatting. You know, normal people, normal life. It was fantastic. So a big thankyou to my gamer pals – my birdcage has been expanded and I’m breathing better for it.