Today I felt struck by how good my life is right now. Particularly this weekend.
Yesterday I went into town to run my usual Saturday errands: got a new library book, mailed a card to a friend, bought the groceries I didn’t have time or space for the previous evening (I don’t have a car, so all groceries must be carefully selected by importance as I have to carry them everywhere). Last weekend I went to a coffee shop and wrote a letter to someone (you’ll find out who you are soon …), and I figured I’d do the same yesterday. Just one problem: it was unusually hot.
I strolled down Broadway, figuring I’d duck into the nearest coffee shop, when I came across the Thai restaurant where I’d get bubble tea with Jared the last time I was in New Zealand. I started to walk past it, then turned around, figuring a bubble tea would taste far better than a coffee in the heat.
After ordering, I sat down and got out my pen and paper to write my latest letter. A few moments later, a lady walked up to me. She’d heard me order and asked if I was American. Turns out she was, too, and we chatted for several minutes. She said there was a group of Americans in town who got together for potlucks, Thanksgiving dinners, etc. She said she came to the Thai restaurant often and would probably see me again. She left and I resumed writing.
Not ten minutes later, a family walked in and I immediately heard their American accents. The restaurant employee told them they’d just missed the previous customer with whom I chatted. So when they sat down, I started chatting with them, and they also told me about the group of Americans in Palmy who get together. This time we exchanged phone numbers so they can let me know when the next one is.
When I told my mom about this that evening, and how we asked each other if we knew this or that American in town, she said, “Do you kind of feel like the Filipinos of the country?” And in a way, I do (for those of you who don’t know: my best friend is Filipina, and my family gets invited to many of their gatherings. And, as in my case now, they all seem to know every other Filipino within a 30-mile radius.).
At any rate, it feels good to know there are other Americans in New Zealand with whom I can connect. In a way it reminds me of being an international student: although you’re there to meet the locals, it’s nice to know there’s a group of other people like me in case I ever feel like chatting about life in the States or asking them advice on Kiwi life. For example, one of them told me that the nearest thing to American coffee can be found at (of all places!) BP and McDonald’s. I don’t typically think of gas-station (make that petrol-station) coffee as anything to write home about, but now I’m curious. I wasn’t too surprised to hear that about McDonald’s, though, as the McCafé is much fancier here than in the States (Exhibit A: when my parents and I stopped at one in Timaru, my mom was shocked when her coffee came complete with a tray of creamer, sugar, actual china, etc.). And to think, I almost went to a coffee shop instead, and would have missed meeting these people!
This morning my gratitude continued as I awoke for a sunrise church service (on a related note, I am also grateful that we had Daylight Savings last night, so I got an extra hour of sleep before said 6 a.m. service). It was a lovely service and we were surrounded by hay bales, the smell of which reminded me of home.
Instead of a typical sermon, two church members spoke about specific times in their lives. One talked about telling a friend how nervous he was for his upcoming finals.
“How long have you known about them?” his friend asked.
“About a year.”
“And how long has God known about them? A bit longer?”
I think this is such a relevant thought to keep in mind; at least, for me it is. It ties in perfectly with the verse about worry not adding a minute to one’s life (Luke 12:25).
I got home just before 8, and knowing I had the whole day ahead of me was a great feeling, particularly after last weekend when I slept in till 11 on both days. I had an awesome Skype session with Jared, with whom I hadn’t chatted in months. Then I took a walk in gorgeous weather and had a long leisurely shower while belting out songs (I love my flatmates, but this is one perk to them being gone today).
While listening (and laughing) to Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me (another one of my favorite NPR programs), I made some tasty guacamole and got a little cleaning done. I find I’m most motivated to clean when I’ve got music or news to listen to (and to distract me). Oh, and I watched one of my favorite Frasier episodes while eating said guacamole (a lovely marriage). You can find the recipe here; I’d highly recommend it. Super simple, even for hesitant cooks like me.
And now I’m sipping some tea, and probably will read more of my new book soon, perhaps with a cat at my feet. I’m sorry if this all reads like a diary entry, but I just wanted to list all the things I’m thankful for this weekend, and there are a lot of them. And, perhaps most importantly, this weekend made me realize that I am exactly where I need to be in life. Even if I’ve already spent a quarter of the time my visa allows and I haven’t left Palmy much, it’s not a waste. I’ve made friends and connections I otherwise wouldn’t have. And thought I’m doing the 8-5 workday right now in order to save money for travel, this part of my life shouldn’t be (and isn’t) just a pre-curser to Real Life beginning. Life waits for no one.
Update: The day after I posted this, I wound up listening to the following TED clip at work, and it just felt too perfect not too add to this post. You can listen to the 9-minute version I heard or watch the full TED talk here.