All it takes is a few Edmontonians to make NZ feel like home. It’s surprising how the presence of people from your home country, yet alone your home city, can be so comforting. It’s easy to underestimate the value of having someone who understands what you mean when you say words like “winter,” “Oilers,” or “Garneau Theatre.” The shared experience of having lived in the same city, and now meeting up on the other side of the world, is pretty crazy.
We just met up with Mark and Laurel this past week, but it was a meeting that was destined to happen sooner or later in our lives. Mark and I actually went to the same high school in St. Albert, way back in the day, and I was in the same grade as his younger brother Jon. Interestingly, Mark and Laurel also attended and met at Taylor (NABC), two years before we got there. And Brendon was Laurel’s brother (Andrew’s) RA at Taylor, and the two of them became good friends and ate lots of late nite Big Mac’s together. I also went to the U of A with Laurel’s brother-in law, Tim. Though this is truly the tip of the iceberg as far as our connections go, this is all to say that we have a ton of mutual friends who informed us of the other party’s intended plans to move to New Zealand.
While picnicing atop Mount Eden, watching the sun set, we marveled at our many connections, and got each other slightly up to date as to what we had been doing with our lives the past couple of years, and what had brought us to New Zealand. Our first date with Mark and Laurel went pretty smoothly (from our perspective), and they agreed to the possibility of a second date.
We were delighted to meet Brandon and Kristen, friends of Mark and Laurel, when we met up at Pakiri Beach (near Goat Island). Brandon and Kristen made the move from Edmonton to Auckland over a year ago, so they were the veterans among the six of us. After a glorious afternoon of playing in the waves, taking in the sun, and throwing around a rugby ball on the lush white sands of Pakiri, Brandon and Kristen kindly invited us back to their house for a roast dinner. We were even lucky enough to enjoy some fresh molten chocolate cake from Tui, the neighborhood baker, as well. Even though the store had technically closed hours ago, the boys went down to see if they could convince Tui (who often stays late at the shop to bake) to sell them some baked goods. Brandon’s persistent knocking, Mark’s charm, and Brendon’s good looks were enough to sway her into handing over one of her prize winning chocolate cakes, which lived up to the hype and was moist and decadent.
It was a great day and it seems somewhat odd to be hanging out with people from our own city on the other side of the world, yet at the same time, marvelous and comfortable. NZ is developing one fine collection of Edmontonians.