On the road

I first drove over the Kaimai ranges in 1979, I had been there before with others and in fact I had walked over the ranges before I drove over.  These days the road is well made gone is the notorious hairpin bend which I once rounded sideways due to ice, no gravel patches either.  It is a steep drive from the Matamata side.  The road is deceptive in that it is well built but it is just not designed for speed.  The fences show many places where people have overestimated their ability and have taken a path less travelled. It is a busy road with many trucks using it as a pathway to the port of Tauranga.  It is not only a physical barrier the ranges as well like many other places it is a demarcation line.  Virtually every time that I travel over these hills I leave the weather of the Waikato behind me, it is most often warmer, dryer, sunnier over there than where I come from. Thursday was no exception apart from the incessant wind however that was right through the country.

I travelled to Tauranga and the Mount yesterday because I recognised that my tank is running on empty and has been doing so for a long time.  I don’t fear that I will run out of emotional energy but I don’t want to get into limp home mode.  There is something about the salt air that is invigorating and renewing for me.  I had plans for a hot swim at the Mount Hot Pools, a superb facility, hot salt water pools with a variety of temperatures.  I find that after a soak there I am renewed physically.  I took the opportunity to drop in on my daughter who is living there now, another boost to my tanks. Apart from the physical there is other benefits to me from visiting Tauranga, it is a place of opportunity for me, vibrant and alive, plenty of culture a nice climate, and a different buzz.  Tauranga seems to be much more outdoor orientated, very similar to what I found when I visited the Gold Coast a few years ago.  I have wanted to live there for a long time but it has never worked out for me, we have unfinished business Tauranga and I.  I travelled by myself, lunched by myself and soaked by myself.  Yes those things for me are always enhanced by having good company but being by myself is never a barrier to visiting Tauranga.  This is in complete contrast to my visit to Hamilton.

I needed to get out just felt overwhelmingly trapped in a quotidian life, a bit like a ground hog day.  Get up eat wash dress, do the dishes washing yada yada yada, then repeat the same the next day.  I took myself off and decided that I would watch a movie, I got to the movies, inquired at the desk about the length of the movie and then bottled out.  I couldn’t face going by myself.  It was just an overwhelming reminder about my singleness.  So what is the difference? Happy to hot pool by myself but not movies? I have been to the movies by myself before, twice that I can remember but it feels rather like a shower with a rain coat on.  Some people are happy to be single, they proclaim it loudly. Being single is a great defense against compromise, accountability, change. For some people it is the ideal existence, they may be gregarious, outgoing people, not hermits at all but they just don’t want to be in a relationship or to be more precise in a relationship that rocks their comfort zones even worse stretch their comfortable existence or perhaps expose their underbelly, secret fears, past disappointments.

There it is the conundrum, the very thing that I am afraid of becoming so entrenched in my singleness that I will end up as a nasty selfish old man, living a mediocre life wandering what if.  To live in community involves risk and I know full well the risk of giving your heart and having it handed back to you on a platter served up as steak tartare. The giving of the body is easy it is the communion of the soul that involves pain should it fail is the difficult part.  Having done so in the past and borne the scars of that disappointment for too long it lives a reticence to become involved on a deeper level for two reasons, one is a Pavlovian response like not touching a hot element, the other is for the fear of hurting someone else.  To get to know someone involves opening yourself up on a deeper level and with that is always risk.  For me I think going to the movies is a litmus test of readiness to be lifelong single.  It appears that right now it is not an option for me, the other issue is that I am not prepared to risk integrity either, is that a catch 22?

Paul

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