Back in the filthy city

Friday, April 08, 2016

I moved to Wellington almost four years ago.

You could call it a split decision, but it wasn't really. I'd been seeking escape for years, researching how far away I could possibly get from the clichés and cliques that had dominated my years at high school. To be honest, my teenage angst got the best of me, and in a way I had become the cliché. That "alty" girl you often see in films, who dreams of bigger things, bigger loves and big adventures in bigger cities. In reality I was just a young, low key foreign looking girl with a major case of terminal uniqueness, crushing on a boy in a band and always showing up late to class smelling of darkroom chemicals. I wore my Grandmother's old hippie clothes and dreamed of travelling. I wanted to be a writer, not sit in physics class. Holy fuck, I hated physics. And maths. What the fuck is with maths? Fucking stupid, that's what it is.

Anyway carrying on, put simply I was trying to find myself, and like so many who have come before me I often fell flat on my face. At some point, around the same time I discovered I couldn't draw for shit and would never be a great artist, my Mum gave me her Olympus OM10. Photography fascinated me. It was so much easier to understand the people around me through a lens, certainly a lot easier than maintaining a conversation. And so I fell in love with a dusty old 35mm camera, and the idea of being a photographer. I'd roam the earth with just my SLR, an extra roll of film, a toothbrush and a spare pair of underpants. First things first though, I had to get out of Auckland.

Don't get me wrong, I love my family and the house I grew up in. Deep down I even love my cat Einstein, even though he is an asshole. But I just needed to get away. I get itchy feet and I was suffocating in the humidity and the smog. I'd never lived outside of Auckland, but I'd travelled enough overseas to know that there was more to the world than the Sky Tower, K'Rd secondhand shopping, and the Ponsonby brunch bunch. If I spent one more Sunday watching the designer Mums clad in their designer Lulu Lemon yoga pants rock their designer babies back and fourth in their designer prams, whilst they sipped on their designer decaf soy vanilla lattes and ate gluten free dairy free sugar free bircher muesli in a stark white walled cafe, well... I was going to loose my goddamn mind. I needed out.

So I looked up the San Francisco School of Art. When I realised how expensive that was going to be, I had a cry, then proceeded to google Otago. The other end of the country sounded great until I realised none of their degrees particularly appealed to me. And thus I came upon our capital city. It wasn't bigger. Infact, I didn't realise at the time, but this city is painfully small. At least it was a start. It wasn't the other end of the country but the other end of the island still seemed pretty far away. I received a scholarship to study law and politics at Victoria, so naturally I turned it down to study photography and journalism at Massey. And off I went.

Make no mistake, I've had a helluva good time in Wellington. Yeah, first year kind of sucked but by the time second year came around, I had made a few friends, moved into my own flat and finally at long last, found my feet. I bought a pair of secondhand pumps, cut my hair, starting filling in my eyebrows and adopted a sassy, take-no-prisoners attitude. I stayed up late and woke up early, I fell in love and in return had my heart stomped on. I made friends but also lost a few. I started working as a waitress and it sucked but the food was alright, and on student night I threw back tequila shots with reckless abandon while my flatmates looked on and cheered. Returning home at the end of 2014, my friends and family barely recognised me. These days I'm more about the study and b-grade movies than the tequila, but life is still pretty darn good.

Anyway, just a few weeks ago I went back to Auckland, back to that filthy city, to housesit and feed my Aunty's bitchy cat Peach. Walking down High Street with my Mum, I thought maybe something about the city had changed. Everything looked similar, but felt different. Like I was looking at it through a prism or a kaleidoscope. Like the colours had altered slightly. I realised after a few days that the weird vibes I was getting weren't because of Auckland, it was me. I had changed. I wasn't that young girl in her Grandmother's oversized blue button down shirt anymore, crushing on a boy in a band, hating on life and taking photos of leaves on the sidewalk , although I still often smell like darkroom chemicals. I'd moved to Wellington with the explicit intention of escape. I didn't know who I was or who I was becoming and that frightened me. So I did what any scared angst ridden seemingly artistic teenage girl on the verge of womanhood would do: I ran. Now four years later, the inevitable has occurred. I had grown up (well fuck). The problem is that after four years of splitting my life between two completely different cities, I don't really know where home is. I've been away from Auckland long enough that I don't really feel like I belong there anymore, although I never really did in the first place. Wellington is great, but it's way too small for me to stay here long term.

Yeah I don't know where I belong, but I think I may be starting to get an inkling as to who I am, or who I'm becoming at least. As I said before I was always destined to be that cliché girl in the film, finding herself in the big city. Little did I know that I would do just that, but it wasn't New York or Los Angeles or Paris that I found myself in. It was little old Wellington, that tiny capital city at the bottom of the world.

I mean, that's a start right? Until next time babes, stay filthy xx

You Might Also Like


Let me know what you think!