Eight years ago I moved to Wellington. I’ve wanted to go home ever since. I’ve tried to find a way every year. But not this year. This year I’m settling in.
One of my best friends and I moved down from Auckland almost simultaneously. We moved into a flat in Hataitai. Big mistake. “Oh,” thought the builders of that house, “what a lovely view we will get from the side of Mt Vic. Let’s build right here.”
How about “No”? How about, “That’s a terrible idea. That hill you’re perched on will cast a shadow across your house from about 11 o’clock every morning. You will live in the half-dark. Oh, and you think it’s a good idea to install a two-storey leadlight window to bleed out what little warmth your house holds?”
Yes, please do that. My friend and I thank you for the vitamin D deficiency that threw us both into a depression aptly named SAD. It’s a thing. Google it.
That first Wellington winter was misery. But then, so was the next one, when I still hadn’t realised that an Auckland winter wardrobe doesn’t even start to keep out Wellington’s light summer breeze. And should we even discuss the asylum-filling winds of spring?
Actually, calling that disruption to the atmosphere ‘wind‘ may not fully convey to non-Wellingtonians what really happens. What really happens is that, for nearly a full month in spring, the air around you spins and spins, around and around, up and down, through your hair, into your skirt, up your nose. It’s kind of like a million demon bees tormenting you with their flappy wings until you flip out and hurl your sandwich to the ground because that is far preferable to taking one more bite of chicken, tomato and blowing hair.
But, one magical day, you learn to survive. You tie your hair up. You swap your skirts for pants. You change the direction you’ll run around the bays today to get the wind at your back. You make like everyone else and wear black. (By the way, to all you outsiders who like to criticise our metropolitan uniform, we wear black because it’s functional. Black traps sunlight. It makes us warmer. Vitamin D tablets also help.)
Once you’re surviving Wellington, you start appreciating Wellington. Now that your Beetlejuice-crazy hair’s out of your face, you spot the pretty things you’ve missed. The dome lights along the harbour at night, the spinning green pebbles on a giant stick on Lambton Quay, the gorgeous bricks of St Gerard’s perched on the sunny side of Mt Victoria.
And then Wellington hits you with the clincher. House prices. You start telling your Auckland friends it is possible to buy a better house, for cheaper, right in town. If only they‘ll move to the capital. Oh, they’d prefer to live in the burbs? Well, let’s talk about the traffic jams between that suburb and work. That’s right, they don’t exist. And hey, do we need to talk about the quality of the food in Wellington restaurants? No. You get the point. In WGT vs. AKL, the former wins hands down.
So, this year I’m finally staying put. Happily. Boy, those Vitamin D tablets must finally be kicking in.
About Heather du Plessis-Allan
Heather is a Jafa who’s called Wellington home for seven years and counitng. The wind still drives her crazy, but the bucket fountain still makes her smile. She’s running around Oriental Bay and learning to surf Lyall Bay. Her day job is reporting for TVNZ’s Seven Sharp.