I’m asked sometimes, “How are you and your ex able to stay friends?”
“Because I can’t hate him,” I say. “I can’t.”
Then another conversation usually happens, days later:
“And you’re just friends?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh. Haha. HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah. No. We’re really just friends.”
“The man is genderless to me now.”
“He’s like an older brother. Okay, I guess that gives him a gender. Sibling? I don’t know.”
“You don’t feel anything?”
“How could I?”
And why should I?
That life is dead now. Wilted. I’ve no water for it.
• • •
When we first headed to Whangarei, we were way in over our heads. We’d planned for a fantastic day that’d include:
- Visiting the Claphams National Clock Museum
- Finding a hobby store, then eating at an Irish-inspired pub
- Shopping at Port Whangarie
- Visiting the Whangarei Museum, Kiwi House, and Heritage Park
- In the afternoon, nature walks to Whangarei Falls and Abbey Caves
We got lost the moment we arrived. Instead of heading to the Claphams National Clock Museum, we found ourselves in Whangarei’s Clock Factory, also known as Natural Wood Creations. (Days later, on our drive back to Auckland Airport, we’d stop here to purchase a kauri clock.)
These lovely artists take wood from kauri trees, preserved for centuries in a local swampland, and use it to make clocks, books, furniture, and other beautiful creations.
I am enamored with everything they have. I point. I say, “I wish I could make that.” When my ex nods, I know he sees that in me.
• • •
Once we get back on the main road, we discover the clock museum and buy a $7NZ/person tour. Super cheap attraction, compared to some other stops, and you learn quite a bit about the history of time!
You also get to discuss the last ten years of your life, the two corpses of once-lovers.
But the museum… This museum has the largest collection of clocks in the Southern Hemisphere, from decorative to oddly functional. It’s unique, doesn’t take long, and leaves a lasting impression. (Now I want a cuckoo clock, imported from Germany!)
• • •
We struggle to locate Whangarei Port, between bad maps and crazy turns.
Then we finally find a hobby store on my ex’s MtG NZ to-do list. (Yes, he made one of those. THAT was his planning.) While they don’t sell cards, I get an adorable penguin figurine. We decide it’s a bust, but it’s also a win.
Unfortunately, the Irish pub I want to eat at doesn’t open until dinner time. That’s the way with the pubs here. You get lunch or dinner, but not both. And I’m starving for lunchtime immediacy.
So we head to a small mall off the shoreline. We find a fudge factory that makes chocolate with brandy, whisky, and other boozes. We pick up some gifts to bring home. Then we eat at a restaurant on the seaside, with a fantastic fish that…I’ve never seen in the US…
“This is mystery fish.”
“When we met, you wouldn’t eat fish.”
“Now you eat mystery fish.”
By this time, it’s rainy, dark, and cold, and we’re sufficiently exhausted.
• • •
But we head to the Heritage Museum to check out the Kiwi House, because you can’t visit New Zealand without seeing kiwis.
There are only 20 minutes left till close. We pay to get in anyway, determined to see these birds. As we wait in an isolated, dark room, a local asks us if we see them. She is impatient. Her exit is hollow, echoing on the wood floor.
I won’t follow her.
If there’s one thing my ex and I have taught each other, it’s patience.
Then, at the last 5 minutes, two kiwis speed by, fantastically fast. They cross the enclosure in mere seconds, I think, two heartbeats that zing-zing and are gone.
The birds are huge, fat, and ridiculously adorable.
• • •
After we leave, the caretaker explains to us how kiwis are aggressive. I picture them as vicious, yet illogically cuddly looking, like owls. I have to “picture,” because the real ones were a blur.
They use their speed to hunt, and have talons they can rend with from both sides. Fucking awesome.
Unfortunately, when humans brought domestic dogs to New Zealand, they dug up kiwi burrows during the day. The bird has no issues fending for itself at night; but, by sunlight, they were totally vulnerable.
• • •
With the pressing rain, we decide to leave Whangarei Falls and Abbey Caves till tomorrow. I run with airplane arms through the black storm.