When we first moved to Auckland I had a vague feeling I'm not gonna like it. This was not groundless. After leaving the airport I saw a small isolated village with only one tree in front and no people around. I tried to assure my husband I liked the city but it scared me. I was nervously thinking what I was gonna do in this desert, lying thousands of miles away from the civilisation.
I believe the feeling of fear was not caused by the city only. I felt I was losing my connections and would never have fun any more. After that day there were alternate periods of hating the city and making myself like it. I tried to play my part well, and said how much I liked it, and tried to find something good in it. I also tried to make my husband believe how I liked the country, but he knew me too well. Not that I didn't see all the advantages of living at the coast. I did appreciate the social institutions, and law and order, as well. But I guess I just wasn't a village type of person.
You see, the city I was coming from was literally the greatest city in the world. It is being much talked over in a very negative way now, always has been, in fact. But what I can say is that this is the city for the smart. What do I mean by smart, you may ask. It's hard to say, as the word is very worn out, overused and misinterpreted now, but for what I know, it's people's eyes. I have literally never seen as many stupid faces with absolutely empty eyes in all my life, as I have seen in my first month in Auckland. I saw friendly, and nice, and rather helpful, and very diligent people, but what I did not see was intelligence. How can you build such a thriving society, I wondered, when all the positions are occupied by people with empty eyes? The answer seemed to be simple: skills. Skills were everywhere. Very efficient, not very hardworking but very faithful to the rules, these cogs were afraid to divert from their algorithm but were merciless in devouring the one who was not one of them. They did not read, they did not go to theatres, and they had no taste. In anything.
The faces I met scared me, and I cried. I learnt to ignore the eyes, imitated their manner of talk, but it was hard. I forced myself to appreciate their friendliness and consistent smiles, but it didn't take me long to realise those weren' the signs of life experience and wisdom, which normally make a person nice, confident and philosophically calm. No, those were the prim smiles without any depth, and the calmness of a fool. There's a saying that life's easy only for fools. Well then, I was jealous of the whole nation. I always tend to idealise the people, but what can I do if I've been happy to meet mostly nice and intelligent representatives. No, this is not true. I've met fools, and I've met individuals I'd rather have not met, but the general tendency is they all were deeper, somewhat. The thing is, you'll never understand the country I come from, even if you were born there, lived all your life and studied its history profoundly. All those talks about alcoholism, bears in the streets, and what else, fur hats all year round? Well, let's leave them to the everyman. But what I saw were for the most part witty, broad-minded, and capable of having emotions people, that could do entirely everything if anybody ever needed that. What they had to do, however, was trying to survive, enduring what could not be cured (and that was a lot!), and doing jobs they didn't have hearts for. No wonder many of them drank.
Well, maybe it is how it's supposed to be, how it was planned to? No need for intelligence for ordinary men, just learn your skills, dear, and be happy in your very, very narrow field. Nevertheless, I kept looking. I studied people of different fields and jobs, I made my conclusions. Finally, I can say I've met two persons I can say have the brains. Well, guess what, none of them was from NZ! So, what do I do? Just wait, I presume. There's a whole 1.5 million citizens (yeah, it's a big city) here, there might be more...