Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving, a holiday that I don’t have many positive feelings about that has no relevance here in Wellington, but which finds many family members free and willing to travel, which makes getting them to Wellington a lot more feasible.
To commemorate our first non-US non-Thanksgiving, E’s sister and brother-in-law have made the trans-Pacific trip to visit us here in Wellington. Their impending visit caused me to feel a lot of pressure.
Not just because they are sleeping in the room in which I shoot Crushing Comics, which meant I had to get a lot more of it unpacked and get ahead on episodes before they arrived.
And, not just because of typical hosting concerns about if we have enough snacks to keep them fed, either. This post could really easily be another 1,000 words about searching grocery stores for decent ricotta and any provolone at all in order to make my baked penne, but I think that logline probably tells you all you need to know about that particular misadventure.
No, the pressure has to do with my inherent, internal tour guide and his feelings of inadequacy.
That erstwhile guide is still left clanging around in my brain a whole sixteen years after I started giving tours of my college campus. He existed even before that. He has a need to keep any crowd educated and entertained as they move through a space that is new to them … and in Wellington he is grasping at straws.
This was never a concern for my siblings-in-law’s many visits to our home in the states. Both of them had lived in and near Philadelphia for long enough that they didn’t require much showing around. In some cases, they could tell me about places I had never seen as much as I could do the same for them. Their visits tended to focus on a lot of TV and movie marathons and, later, a lot of fussing of EV6 followed by much shorter TV and movie marathons.
Now they are visiting us in a place that is totally new to them. They had to fly almost three times as long to reach us! It cost a lot of money to do so! And they’re only here for six days! Plus, they love adventures like safaris and canyoning! All of the days need to be full of X-TREME adventure content!
Except, I don’t know very much about New Zealand, Wellington, really – and certainly very little about anything adventurous! It feels like the only things I’ve been doing for the past three months are unpacking, grocery shopping, and going to kid-friendly stuff with EV6 – plus driving between those endeavors.
As a result, I have a lot to say about traffic patterns. Not too much else, though. The sum total of my “adventuring” has been within the confines of Zealandia preserve and in walking up and down Cuba Street.
Today I picked J & B up from the airport and it felt like I unfurled every possible Wellington factoid on the drive back to our house. It’s a strange feeling that drives home how much otherness there is left to tackle in my life here, even if I have gotten comfortable finding my way around and knowing where to buy my must-have groceries. In Philadelphia I could (and have!) lead an eight-hour walking tour of neighborhoods full of fun facts and hidden gems. I had a story or a memory to go with almost every square block. I could recommend a fun activity to anyone of any age.
I don’t have that here and I’m not sure how long it will take me to get there. The paradox of my internal tour guide is that he wound up that way by happenstance. I’ve always been homebody at heart. It’s not the cool stuff that draws me out of the house, but the memories attached to it. I am less likely to go out and wander here because I don’t have a history and a social fabric to draw me out. There are no streets I derive comfort from walking the way I did from a wander down 4th street in Philly.
I might not know enough to keep my tour guide self monologuing for an eight-hour day, but this week I have a brief window of opportunity to create new New Zealand memories. That’s the fuel for my future tour guide and the memories that I can follow down the streets of Wellington.