“I wish we could throw a party like that, when it’s our turn to leave” says Gaspar when we have our last dinner together. Which fills me with pride and joy and nostalgia all at once, remembering with fondness the great week-end we’ve had a few days ago, in the company of fascinating, diverse, and loyal human beings, all gathered to wish us well.
Some of them strangers to one another, yet getting along despite differences of nationality, culture, background and political inclinations, tightening the net of the precious friendships we’ve formed over the years, in a joyful hymn of solidarity and connection. I had summoned them at very short notice, and they’d answered the call, making their way from all corners of the North Island (Auckland, Port Waikato, Raglan, Tauranga, Whitianga, Owhango) to support us in our key transition.
And the theme, “One thousand and one nights at sea”, which initially was, let’s admit it, a mere excuse to wear my teal blue silk dress and bake baklavas, held more and more meaning as the week-end unfolded, transporting me to the most magical place for three days. Far and close, exotic and familiar, dreamy and so, so real.
In the bush camp we had hired and very soberly decorated for the occasion with wall hangings, there were Aladdin, sultans, genies, parrots, monkeys, sharks, pirates, and Persian princesses, some who we had witnessed getting married, or played in a band with, or were the first friends to hold our new-born baby Zephyr, or babysat our boys overnight, or let us stay at their place, borrow their car, and use their home as home office, or had treated us with blissful massages, some who helped us renovate Obelix, or who organised its beautiful blessing ceremony, former or current neighbours, workmates and clients, our dedicated random boat issues 24/7 support line, some who we had celebrated Christmas and New Year’s eve with, some we welcomed in New Zealand and offered our home to after their own long voyage, and sailing, dancing, drumming, singing, and festival buddies. All who held a special place in our hearts and our lives in New Zealand.
My dream week-end come true. I felt supported, celebrated and loved. With food in abundance, kids running around in the background (30 of them!), having fun on the burma trail or the flying fox, and always a significant someone, or several someones, at my sides, to cook, eat, drink, chat, dance, swim, sing or play with.
Highlights include fiercely smashing walnuts with a giant rolling pin for the baklava filling with Sylvia, serving up dinner for our assembly of guests all queuing in line at the buffet table after the gong was rang Big House style wit Max, Marcia and Chris on the ice cream bar, jumping off the bridge in the icy cold Waitawheta river in undies with Janette, learning from Kate about the blue frilly penis of the leopard slug in a competitive game of salad bowl, and on the second night, as I was about to declare the buffet open, Azur running towards me in a panic “Mum, we haven’t done the karakia!”, then standing on a table and declaiming it with decorum, my eyes swelling with emotion.