My last week in Christchurch: a series of short stories


I debated writing this as a “in the format of The Canterbury Tales” story, since Christchurch is located in Canterbury, but then I realized that writing from the perspective of multiple people might make me seem a bit insane (even more so than normal) and do some damage to my tenuous grasp of reality. That, and I’d have to think up people who’s viewpoints to use, and while most of these events have other people in them, I don’t really feel like delving into their innermost thoughts. At least not publicly.

My last two Capoeira Classes

It’s a sad thing, leaving a group of friends. Its obvious, of course, but when it actually comes down to it its quite a sad situation, and thus everyone has a different way of dealing with friends departing. Pontual’s solution was simple and straightforward – give the person who’s leaving something to remember, and give everyone a chance to “say their goodbyes” the Capoeira way.

And so, I found myself in the Roda for 5min or so, playing against every single person in the class. Twice, since I went to both the Wednesday class and the Friday class. Most of the times, a single “game” of Capoeira will last 30s to maybe a minute, and afterwards the players will be pretty well winded… so when I say that I could barely breathe halfway through the game please let that sink in. 5 minutes… ten times as long as a normal game will last. And that, of course, is just playing against the students.

Pontual wanted to make sure that I got a good sendoff, and so he made sure to play against me last, so that I’d be a bit slowed down. And since I was a bit slower and more tired than normal (Ed Note: It’s strange, but while playing Ben wasn’t nearly as tired as one would expect – the power of Adrenaline in one’s system is an amazing thing, and Ben only really noticed the true depth of his exhaustion after the game was over, and he had stopped focusing on his opponents), it was easier for Pontual to bring out the big guns – pulling kicks inches from my poor chin, and sweeping my legs out from under me more times than I can count. The thing is though – I loved it. Not in a masochistic way, but in a “wow, I’m playing someone who’s not holding back, and starting to understand how amazing people’s reflexes must be”. It was fun, and honestly? The best going away present I could have been given by the group.

Well, the cool uniform that I got was pretty good too, I guess 😛

Watching Pokemon with Acacia, Lorna, and Johnny

I don’t watch cartoon’s often… but when I do, they are awesome. Recently I’ve been on an “Adventure Time with Finn & Jake” kick (Ed note: For those who don’t know, this is a cartoon that was originally a short flash animation on Youtube. Then Cartoon Network decided it was awesome, and hired the cartoonist full-time to make a TV show. Awesome!), but a friend of mine just fell deep into the evils of Pokemon, and invited me over to join her for some epic catching ’em all action.

Normally, I would pass on this offer, since… pokemon. Just… no. But, this was a unique situation: Acacia is freaking awesome (I’ve met drunk people at parties who wouldn’t let me leave until I agreed that she’s amazing), and she cooks up a mean pasta-bake – pasta-bake that she was offering to cook up as a going-away present. So, I had to bus myself on over and hang out for a day and a half, relaxing and drinking, eating pasta-bake and watching an annoying kid throw balls at small animals.

In the end? Strange, annoying, but totally worth it Although the stupid theme-song was stuck in my head for at least two days afterwards.

Harriet’s housewarming party

The danger of attending a party that you don’t really know much about is that it could be a theme party, and you can easily find yourself not dressed for the occasion. Now, this isn’t always too bad, since you can just play it off as being the “cool guy”, or making up some costume excuse (“seriously, I’m dressed as a software pirate! No, its just coincidence that its exactly what I wear normally!”). However, when you’re at a “period costume” party with friends who love costumes and dressing up, and happen to have a large closet full of costumes… life can get dangerous.

And this was how I found myself at a party, wearing a fancy Victorian-Era masquerade mask and a long flowing dress. Yes, you read that right – a full-length ballgown. Harriet, one of my Capoeira friends, had seen that I wasn’t wearing a costume, and hauled me upstairs to put one of her dresses on me. Thankfully I wasn’t the only guy going drag at the party, since our other Capoeira-buddy Nick had also forgotten a costume, and it did end up having some unique benefits…

A bit into the party, I was talking to a girl named Emma who loved my “costume”. She loved it so much in fact, that she wanted it. We agreed that she would look significantly better in it than me, since I didn’t fill it out at all, and so we ran into the bathroom to swap outfits. Again, yes you read that right – I was that person, the one who keeps swapping costumes throughout the night with other people.

Nearing the end of the night it was getting a bit colder, and so I did end up swapping back into my own shirt (I had kept the pants on all night, thank you very much)… but until that point Nick and I were the clear life of the party; eclipsing even the cheerleading squad who showed up a bit after I did.

After the party I got a ride home with a girl that I had met there, who had one of the best costumes that I had ever seen. It was a take on a plague-doctor – long beaked mask, but with about a dozen small eyes added around it and a wicked cool chaos staff that she had attached a ram’s skull onto. Amazing. But after she dropped me off I realized that I had to wait a bit for Sara to get home so that I could get into the flat – and so I spent nearly an hour relaxing outside stargazing from a small school playground across the street. An excellent ending to a most-interesting party.

Sampling with Mike

My buddy Mike is the reason I came to Christchurch in the first place. I’ve mentioned him before, but the depth of how much he helped me out cannot be overstated – it was his flat that I sublet, and his car that I used to go adventuring up Mount Hutt, to Paynes Ford, and Castle Hill. So when he asked me if I was up for helping him gather samples for his graduate thesis before I left, I jumped on the chance.

The sampling itself was a bit simpler than I expected, though it took a lot longer than I had envisioned, simply because every drop of water that he took needed to be run through a 4-micron filter, and then neutralized with a special acid, administered 1ml at a time.

Each sample took nearly 45min to gather, run, and sort, but it was a great excuse to hang out and shoot the breeze with Mike. I hadn’t really had much time just relaxing with him since he had gotten back from the USA, and so this was a really nice chance to catch up and chat about random stuff – from Politics to Science, and rock climbing to hiking. It was a good day – slow and relaxed, but really a nice chance to chill out.

I think thats the key to “guy time”… having some small mindless project to keep your hands busy while you chat. Fishing, painting, fixing a car, even smoking a cigar. As guys, we need something to keep our hands occupied, and something that we can use as a convenient conversation break when we need one.

Hanging out at Tika St

I had been staying at my friend Jen’s place (actually the place of many of my friends – Jen, Oliva, Sara, Michael, and Timmy) for the time between Motueka and when I picked up the relocation car. The flat was in one of the worst area’s of Christchurch, but they had made it quite homey and fun, and since we were right near a school, the immediate area itself wasn’t actually that bad. Overall we just relaxed and hung out a bit, but I did get to sample the upside of staying at a flat with someone working on their PHD – while Jen was definitely a stress-bunny while working on her thesis, she also liked distracting herself every so often. And since both her and Sara are quite excellent cooks / bakers, this meant that we had a nearly limitless-supply of cakes, brownies and pancakes at any given time. And as a man who enjoys himself some pancakes, this was pretty much the best thing ever for me.

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