I have lived in the city all my life. I love the countryside, love the big views, the clear starry nights but there’s something about the city that will always appeal to me.
When I was younger and living at home (high school!) I was consistently driven around by my parents. Johannesburg was not considered safe by them and public transport was not an option for me. I travelled quite a bit, and experienced other cities in my teens, took public transport there, but the city I called home was strictly a driven experience for me.
Eight days before my 18th birthday I moved to New Zealand to spend time with my brother, to go to university and (I thought) to finally start living!
On my very first day there, my brother drove me to the city centre (Queen St) and dropped me off to spend the day looking around while he was at work. I don’t remember many details about this day, but two things stand out in my memory.
It was the first day that I felt like I was no longer a child (how wrong that turned out to be!) and there was a moment when I looked out into the street and realised that that was exactly where I was meant to be. I was in the right place, at the right time.The view I had at that moment was from this exact angle, from Albert Park looking down onto the Victoria and Queen intersection:
I went on to live on that street for a few years, which was just a spectacular time.
I’ve realised, in my subsequent travels, that I feel that way in every large city. I used to think it was just an Auckland thing but while I love the place, it turns out I’m geographically promiscuous. My relationships with the cities I’m in thrive even if only for a few days. The feeling is the same in each one, for a few seconds, sometimes more, I look around and feel a conflicting sense of excitement (almost nerves) and a sense of peace. Sydney, Krakow, NYC, Washington DC, London, Lisboa – they’ve all done it for me at one time or another.
I’m hoping that in the next couple of years we can manage a major move overseas into a big, big city. There are commitments that need to be fulfilled here, but in 18 months I want to be across the world with butterflies in my tummy as I look up at the huge buildings and make another city my mistress. I want to get all my senses going, I want to laugh, cry and love somewhere completely different.
I’m sorry, Auckland, but just the thought of a different concrete jungle is getting me all excited to leave you. I can’t stop googling the place I want to go. I can’t stop talking about it.
It’s going to be a hard break up, but one day I’ll come back. You’ll be different but you’ll be just the same.
I’m not sure what I’ll be but I know what feeling I’ll get when I see you again – that won’t change.