What Holds Onto You?

I totally forgot to tell you some exciting news – we went on a date! Half of you reading this are probably thinking, “Um, what? That’s it? That’s your exciting news?” Well, yeah. Since becoming “responsible parents”, we’re barely able to have proper alone time. Usually we manage to get five minutes to ourselves while Little Shot is mesmerized by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but by the time we can say, “Hi, how was your day?” He’s screaming for attention again. So when we finally do get to treat ourselves to an outing, it’s kinda super special. I mean, don’t think that I don’t love family bush walks, or taking the kids out to the beach, but as important as embracing my new role as a mum/ stepmum is, I’ve gotta remember the importance of my role as a girlfriend fiancé (Woohoo!)  So about a month or two ago, (Gosh, time flies!) I had organized a special surprise evening for Big Shot. Golly, I’m romantic, aren’t I?!  When he arrived home from another hard day’s work he found a note and a few things I’d laid out for him on the bed.

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You can totally tell I’m a fan of Pinterest, right?!

I met him in the bathroom, (romantic, ay?!) dressed to the nines in a flowy turquoise dress and sparkly heels. I’d even put on make – up, so he could tell this was a serious date. I’d organized my mum to babysit when we arrived in the city and I brought with me a picnic. We sat near the water to enjoy our dinner. I’d packed samosas, fruit, and for dessert I’d made pear and marshmallow pockets wrapped in pastry. The whole pear and marshmallow thing sounds a bit odd, but I’d remembered a conversation we’d had when we first met when he told me it was his favorite dessert pizza topping, so I thought I’d give it a go. Didn’t turn out too bad. Afterwards we set off to our first destination for the night – a science – based art exhibition. This was totally up our alley. Big Shot is a huge science geek and as you all know I’m way into my art. This exhibition was based on research by an amazing microbiologist, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, who happened to speak at this year’s TEDxAuckland conference. She has a passion for bioluminescence; a topic Big Shot and I have discussed numerous times. We walked down a narrow, dim stairway. From the street, there was no guessing what lay at the bottom of those stairs, judging by the dingy doorway; but we’ve learnt not to judge a book by it’s cover, or an art exhibition by it’s entrance, or whatever. Once inside we came upon huge glowing images of hands, fish and crazy images radiating intense energy. On closer inspection, these paintings were ingeniously made up of living bacteria! I can’t really describe just how awesome it all was in words. The one thing I wondered was if the art would permanently stay as it was, or if eventually it would morph and change? Next we took a leap right out of our comfort zones. We headed across town to a jewelry making workshop. (Stopping on the bridge over the motorway to take selfies first, of course!) Our workshop was run by Soo Jeong Lee, a student studying the art of using wax to mold beautiful jewelry pieces. She was very passionate about the symbolism of hands, and she shared her interest with us in the connections between people. When the class began she had two questions for us – What do you hold onto? And What holds onto you? With these two thoughts in mind we were to each create two charms to add to a bracelet. It was fascinating to see what each person was able to come up with. Big Shot created a beautiful whale’s tail, symbolizing his family, who have a strong connection to whales. His family, he said, is what holds onto him. I made a tiny manaia – protector – symbolizing my child; the one who holds onto me. In response to Soo’s question of what holds onto us, I sculpted a barbed wire – styled cross, representing my faith, and Big Shot created this gorgeous hourglass to show the way time holds onto him, (later cast in silver): time

He also molded a heart, with a jump ring made of a smaller, hollow heart. This represented the way he feels love has a hold on him.

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After we had completed our work and we had studied the amazing artworks on display in the gallery, we stopped in at the Civic; an amazing theater in the heart of the city. The Civic is 83 years old, and the architecture and Indian- inspired character of the building continue to blow everyone away. In the Taj Mahal room we were welcomed by soft, atmospheric melodies, and treated to a small memento each – an origami balloon. When we entered the still, eerie room we found literally hundreds of the origami pieces scattered around, almost like petals falling at our feet. The soft glow of fairy lights set the mood for a tranquil performance of slow movement and barely any sound at all. Sprawled on the floor in the middle of the ‘garden’ setting we watched a woman stretch out into obscure positions, contorting her body like rubbery clay. She looked as though she were locked in some hypnotic state of meditation. Whatever she was doing, I don’t think she was really there at all. From her face you could see that she was actually far, far away.

After leaving The Civic and shaking off the odd energies we were left with after the unusual exhibition we had witnessed, we were shoved back into reality and onto the busy streets of the city. We dodged oncoming foot traffic and smoke clouds and headed up to the town square for our next surprise.

There is a small area of grass at the back of the square. On a usual day it isn’t the type of area you’d typically notice at all, and you wouldn’t stop and think, “Wow, this is a pretty neat little spot!” But on this particular night, the few trees dotted about the outskirts of the grassy area were adorned in beautiful, bright leis, and spotlighted by some powerful UV canons and multi – colored lights. We stopped to sit under the glow of purple and pink, took a few photos and enjoyed just being still and in that moment. There was a big screen stretched out in the courtyard and we found a strange box with a keyboard and buttons. The idea was to type in any word off the top of your head, and that image would then be projected onto the screen, among everybody else’s images, in the form of a mandala. I typed “psychedelic” and Big Shot hit enter. A few moments later the mandala formed on the screen – spiraling and twisting patterns of color and light; a beautiful image to behold.

That evening we met up with Tia and her friend Cory. We sat for a while outside a carnival tent – like structure which had been erected right in the center of the square. Inside they were showing an old – fashioned, cabaret – type show, which would’ve been spectacular to watch, but unfortunately we hadn’t bought tickets for that particular event. There were also dancers performing in the square.

Tia’s feet were killing her – she wasn’t used to wearing heels, and realized it probably wasn’t her best wardrobe decision. They’d been walking around and stopping off at different art exhibitions themselves. It had been a long night for everyone. Luckily I’d brought jandals with me in my handbag, (Mum instinct – always come prepared!) So she slammed them on and the four of us wondered up to a familiar old back – street, where I used to spend most of my afternoons in the city. We sat around a table on the roadside, conversing through clouds of thick smoke. We payed for a hookah and sat puffing away on some double – apple shisha and discussing the theory of human evolution, Tia’s recent NASA discoveries, Big Shot’s birthday dress – up party plans and other random matters. I enjoyed relaxing with good company and absorbing the positive energy of the evening. I sunk into the little bubble we had created around us, almost oblivious to the outside world – only meters away from the busiest parts of the city. After a few rounds of coal, and after missing the boat we were meant to be catching, we farewell-ed our friends and started walking towards the wharf.

This part of town was familiar. A bit of a chill ran up my spine as we drew nearer to the neon lights and the low vibrations of bass notes. Strip clubs. My heart raced. This felt too familiar. Part of me thought it best to start running, but the other part of me wanted to stop where I was, outside the old club, and maybe even stick around a while. There was an awful battle going on inside my head.

Eventually I gave myself a mental slap and thought, “Nope, that’s it, let’s take the other street,” but then my eyes recognized one of the bouncers, made contact, and before I could stop myself I was asking if the manager was around. Soon Big Shot and I were standing out on the red carpet, speaking to the manager and having a laugh, and when I opened my big mouth and mentioned that I’d just completed my bar duty manager’s test, I was offered a job in an instant. I looked to Big Shot, who hovered awkwardly at my side, I laughed it off and said I’d think about it. Then the manager asked if we’d like to have a look inside at the renovations. …Why didn’t I stop us there?

Thankfully I didn’t recognize any of the dancers. None of whom I could see, anyway. So there wasn’t really anything keeping us in there. But being in a stripclub for the first time in two years was like placing a cigarette in front of someone who hasn’t smoked in five days.

There is something electrifying about the energy in there. Something which sucks you in, chews you up after a few drinks and spits you out, only to drag you back again. Addiction? I’m not sure. But I feel so drawn to the atmosphere that for someone like me, it could get dangerous. Because despite my love for the atmosphere, the music, the dancing… I would never be comfortable with going back to doing what I used to do. Revisiting my past is tempting, but it’s a test I’d just have to endure. It is never worth doing something you know you’re not 100% comfortable with. Even for all of the money in the world. It seemed there was just that little last drop of Whiskey still in my system I just couldn’t shake off.

We met my mum and picked up Little Shot. I hugged him a little tighter than usual that night, reminding myself of the reason my life has changed. And that all I need is in my arms. My protection.

In my dress and sparkly heels I breastfed at the ferry terminal then we headed home to our island. The trip home was nice – we bumped into a couple from our church and shared a pie.

I slept really well that night. But I couldn’t shake that weird feeling… the “what if” no matter how much I prayed. I think this is what led me to the night I wrote about in my post, “Never Waste a Good Mistake”.

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