A short walk

Prologue to A short walk beneath a long white cloud

Sunday, September 6th
I shaved Rose’s head today, well, mostly. Michael’s clippers ran out about two thirds of the way through and he was out and no charger could be found. All that remains is a shock of hair on the left side of her head and a flush of embarrassment across her face, we’ll tidy it up when the charger surfaces.

Monday, October 5th
Everything we own besides what we’ll carry on the walk is in storage. Unit 3302. It looks exactly the same as unit 3303 beside it, except 3302 is ours, and everything in it is ours. As the roller shutter clatters into the ground behind me I briefly consider how I would feel if it all vanished while we were away. What would I miss? What of it really matters?

This evening we spread all of our gear across the floor of our cheap and cheerful dreadful room at a dingy Auckland hostel and willed ourselves to see some of the gaps that certainly lay before us but eventually decided we were as ready as we could be and repacked it all. Hopefully we can get a little sleep while workman wage war with the road below our window all through the night.

At 6pm on the 7th of October 2020, a Wednesday, Rose and I stood atop Cape Reinga — the northern most point of New Zealand’s north island and the most spiritually significant place in Aotearoa — looking at the solitary pohutukawa tree whose roots carry the spirits of deceased Maori to the underworld (Te Hinenui o te Po) on their journey to Hawaiiki-A-Nui, their ancestral land.

Shortly after 6pm on the 17th of February 2021, a Wednesday, six friends arrived in Bluff — nominally the southern most point of New Zealand’s south island. The moment had been more than four months in the making, though the moment itself was perhaps ever so slightly anti-climactic, like a good book: its end not a triumph but almost a moment of mourning. That sign at the end of the country marked the passage of something monumental into mere memory — but what exquisite memories they will be.

Read Chapter 1: Beauty and the beach