My friend Scarlett is moving to Japan tomorrow and I'm going to miss her. Actually, she is going to hang out with her family for a bit in Auckland and then she is going move to Japan, but why would I let the truth get in the way of a good story?
I'm not sure if it is a growing-up-in-New-Zealand thing or a studying-in-New-Zealand-thing or a living-in-this-safe-and-comfortable-but-sometimes-suffocating-country-thing, but the constant merry-go-round that takes friends away, and returns them a few years later, soaked in culture and having truly seen poverty (usually in India), gets tiring. The feeling of being left, or possibly getting left behind, gets tired. Those who linger are tired of being left for people that the leaving friends do not yet know and for paintings they have not yet seen. The left behind are tired of their own hunger for somewhere else, a hunger that is experienced most acutely when bored at work and looking through the Facebook photos of pals in Egypt and Turkey and Amsterdam and Laos. Even a picture of a primary school friend drinking a beer in a pub that probably could be Birmingham or Cork or Nottingham or Wales or possibly Melbourne and looks a bit like the booths in J.J Murphy's can be painful to those experiencing the feelings of wanderlust. Oh New Zealand, I have two questions: Why do we all want to leave you and how soon can I go?
I think the merry-go-round is really lucky to be getting my friend Scarlett. She has been my friend since the first year of university, and when we spend time together it is as if we are also sitting with who we used to be, as well as well as a vague pencil sketch of who we might hope to become. We used to walk to English lectures together, and her barbed words hooked their way into my teenage heart. Scarlett, my friend Di and I; we were a trio. Once, in first year, drunk on both freedom and pre-mixed vodka, we obnoxiously stole a mop and threw it into a fountain on Courtenay Place. Once when we were wearing black and mediocre Irish accents, a tourist at a back packers told us that we were obviously either sisters or an up and coming indie band. I think it was maybe the Magic Numbers. Once, sitting on the edge of a bath tub in Aro Valley, Scarlett found out that her mum had cancer and it was really fucking sad.
I'm going to miss drinking dessert wine and eating fondue with her, and looking at the people on Cuba Street. I'm going to miss always liking the old couples best with her. I'm going to miss the way, with a total lack of fuss and fanfare, that she accepted my girlfriend. I'm going to miss talking about our complicated relationships and taboo sexual practises. I'm going to miss the scrutinising way that Scarlett looks at me through her fringe with her brown eyes, weighing up whatever most-likely-quite-ridiculous thing that I just said, before smiling. I'll miss the way she can't cook, apart from really quite great roast potatoes and meringues, and the way that her complete lack of geographical knowledge means that she gets mixed up between Nelson and Napier. I'm going to miss Vodka and Lady Gaga and headbands and lipsticks. I'm going to miss having the funniest and sharpest conversations, carried out over 93 text messages, and I'm going to miss how much she loves her sisters. I'm going to miss talking about Marian Keyes and talking her through getting a tattoo and also just talking and then not agreeing with her and it not even mattering. I'll miss her frighteningly good time management skills, and the way she does summer school all the time and how now she has a law degree. I'm going to miss the way neither of us can drive and I'm going to miss how much she loves tomatoes. I'll miss how her high school boyfriend dressed up as a pineapple for a Seventh Form dress up party. I am going to miss the complete and total ease of our friendship, where there is always wine to drink and never any judgement, but actually just total acceptance and heaps of snacks.
Bon Voyage Scarlett, you Sweet Bitch of the Week. See you somewhere, sometime, soon.