I shall eat feijoas while sleeping on the couch and enjoy every bite.

April 7, 2009

I had a life-altering experience on the weekend. And by that I mean I saw my life flash before my eyes and wished I could go back and alter parts of it.

This occurred during the drive from Napier to Gisborne, an outing designed to show Jenn more of the New Zealand countryside before she leaves for home. Because Viking Woman has been known to regurgitate her stomach lining should she be seated anywhere in a moving vehicle other than behind the wheel, Jenn and I were unanimous in our agreement that she should drive.

Viking Woman has traveled this route several times over the past year. She knows when the hairpin corners are coming; she knows when it’s safe to pass. She knows when to brake before the car goes spiralling off the narrow road and into the abyss.

Jenn and I do not know these things. And so we could only hang on for dear life, grit our teeth, close our eyes and try not to scream like 12-year-old girls. Or, in Jenn’s case, like a twentysomething girl.

It is common knowledge that no one appreciates having their driving criticized. And yet I somehow felt it my duty to casually mention to Viking Woman that she might want to slow down just a bit lest we all die in a flaming crash. I may have also mentioned something about currently undergoing the unique experience of reviewing the highlights of  my life and, even though I appreciated remembering what my parents gave me for my eighth birthday, I did not want the image of gaudily-wrapped socks and underwear to be my final thought as we plunged onto the jagged rocks below.

Viking Woman was kind enough to slow down. And then she was kind enough to tell me she hoped I enjoyed sleeping on the couch for the duration of our marriage. Pillows optional and at her discretion.

Hey, at least she was kind.

This was our first weekend in Gisborne in nearly five years. That meant we were able to take Jenn to the market by the iSite, where the first visual of Gisborne enjoyed by visitors alighting from the bus is that of a totem pole donated by the British Columbia government. A little piece of Canada residing in the first city in the world to see the new day. A little reminder of how the B.C. government spends my tax money. At least it wasn’t wasted on feeding the homeless or something equally frivolous.

Jenn was astounded to hear that the market vendors often set up well before dawn because Gisbonites like to buy their fruit and vegetables in the early hours so they have the rest of the day to enjoy the finer aspects of life. Which is to say, rugby and, um, well, more rugby.

She was also surprised to see so many Maoris. “Don’t leave me here,” she whispered to me, having had little previous experience to that point with New Zealand’s indigenous people. But she did screw up her courage enough to ask one lady adorned with a chin moko (tattoo) to pose for a photo.

It was an hour or so later before we discovered Gisborne now has two markets of a Saturday morning. In fact, the original one is now referred to, somewhat disdainfully, as a “flea market,” while the one that starts at the more civilized hour of 9 a.m. is the “farmers’ market.”

The latter has more upscale (read expensive) offerings. It also has more white (pakeha) folk in attendance.

Sometime during our absence from Gisborne, it was decided to leave all that shopping in the dark activity to the locals and those who need cheaper produce prices just to survive. Personally, I like that one better. I bought a huge bag of feijoas there for 50 cents, and then failed to spot a single one of my all-time favorite fruit at the second market. No room, I guess, what with all the vending spaces being taken up by those selling wine and flowers and cheeses and designer breads and organic eggplants.

That afternoon, we also took Jenn to Wainui Beach, letting her walk the same vast expanse of sand where I once hiked while contemplating the various plot devices of my first novel, Brown Girls.

In the end, Jenn came away very impressed with Gisborne. She told us she had a gut feeling we would one day return there to live. I hope she’s right.

And then, after two nights in a motel, we came home to our own beds.

Or, for those inclined to freely — and without thinking — offer their unsolicited opinions, to their own couches.

It was worth it. The feijoas were wonderful.


One Response to “I shall eat feijoas while sleeping on the couch and enjoy every bite.”

  1. Meg said

    Very funny

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