When you experience loss, you can run dry of things to say to the world. Nothing to say, because you’ve lost the part of you that was interesting. Nothing to talk about, so it gets way easier to slowly drift
away from everyone,
ripple-lines softer and wider,
floating down the Land of the Long White Clouds.
When you can’t think of anything to say, that’s when you turn to memories. Something to describe to the group, a story to tell when nothing notable has happened to you in months, a story to tell yourself.
The Land of the Long White Clouds
I was eight years old when I first visited New Zealand. Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud. That’s how my mother introduced it to me. We were living in Fiji at the time, and the particular military coup during which we lived there was getting worse in a way that 8-year-old me did not understand. Our parents had my sister and I wear our Canadian flag shirts in town. Walking untouched down the street, we took refuge in an internationally respected reputation that went far beyond the concrete. People smiled as we passed.
The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was how darkly everyone dressed. Everywhere, streets brimming with cafes and bookstores, were people dressed in black. I guess it was “fashion.” But people had a lot to dress cheerfully for. I still wear colours every day.
What I remember: The public libraries were incredible. Machine check-outs and many escalators. Neat displays. Wi-Fi and electricity, no cuts. Ferns and moss spread across every square foot of soil. Lamb stew. Stormy skies. Sidewalks smooth enough to cruise a scooter down for endless hours of fun. A scraped knee.
I don’t know what the message of this diatribe is. For now, you’ll find me drifting through The Land of the Long White Clouds, sedated in mind and body.