Holidays was written at the first 2013 meeting of the writing group that formed following The Best of Life Writing at Winter Writers’ Week, Auckland University, 2012. The current seemingly endless run of hot weather reminded Tim of summers past.
Holidays always meant the long trek north on state highway one, windows down trying to shelter from the stifling heat of the long New Zealand summer. Inevitably there were queues. Everyone leaving at the same time with their families for the school break.
Our halfway stop was the 'Uncles' hamburger bar in Wellsford. "The mighty metropolis," as Dad liked to joke. We loved this stop for burgers with pineapple - Hawaiian burgers - or American Hot Dogs, with a lime shake. It kept the tummies from rumbling until we made it to the end of the journey. When we finally arrived, Dad would send us boys running up to the bach to check for dead mice so Mum didn't get a fright.
Then there was the unpacking. Though it wasn't normally too long before we were released to race down to the ocean and into the tide. We might spot other families arriving, or perhaps our friends the Cormacks across the way.
First thing on arriving at the beach we would see how much sand had been deposited, or taken away since last year, then into that clear salty water again. And it felt like nothing had really changed. That life was one long summer holiday interspersed with school years, rather than the other way round.
Tim has degrees in Law, Commerce and his favourite - a B.A. in French and English Lit. He has practiced Law in Auckland and taught English in both New Zealand and France. He has lived in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand; Park City in the U.S. and St-Junien and Limoges in France. Most recently he has worked at the University Bookshop in Auckland. He is currently completing a post-graduate degree in French and looking to create a book of his own.
It's not hard to recognize the moment when I grew up. Though on reflection, perhaps there are two moments. One I can't remember, though it did happen, and another dependent on the first, which I can.
Let's start with what I can remember.
I am lying in bed asleep in my room in my parents’ house. My brother is in the room next door. I'm sleeping soundly. Feeling warm. A smile on my face. In my bedroom under the red, white and blue ‘70s bedspread with the red bunk on top. In the home where I loved to read, to play games, to have fun with Paddington our Old English sheepdog, swim in the pool and eat the left-overs in the fridge on Sunday mornings, of mum's dessert from Saturday night's dinner party.
And then I wake up. And I'm no longer there in that room. That safe happy place. I'm in another room. One I don't recognize at first. Yet it is my room. And then I remember the result of that other moment. The one I can't recall. I no longer live with mum and dad and my brother and dog in our home. This is where I live now. With my mum and my brother in this new place, this apartment that isn't our home. And I wish I could go back into the dream where I was warm and safe and happy, and things were how they used to be.
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