We've been in our new place a week, and it's bonne. We get all day sun, starting with the master bedroom, and it swings around the lounge into the dining room and kitchen, ending with the spare room and Tiny's room. It's glorious and just what I wanted.
There's a lot about the new place that reminds me of where I grew up - in Glorious Tokoroa. If you don't know where or what Tokoroa is, let me give you a little lesson. It's roughly half way between Hamilton and Taupo, and is a timber town. It smells bad because of the mill a few kms out of town where most people work, but I couldn't smell it until well into my 20s. It's small and built mainly in the 1950s, so there are no lovely old villas or much history to the place at all. I lived in two houses that I can remember - Arthur Street and Kent Street. Arthur Street was a lovely apricot state house with a massive backyard that I traipsed around in, where I watered the beans for hours and hours and where Dad taught me how to grow pumpkins. When I was 11 we moved to Kent Street which was just down the road from the Tautaris - a rather impressive collection of beneficiaries and pregnant girls who seemed to have visitors night and day and when I look back on it, the martiarch of the household who had a squillion grandchildren, was probably only about the age I am now. In both streets, one of my main hobbies was riding around aimlessly on my bike with the neighbourhood kids, climbing front fences and trees, rollerskating down what seemed like steep driveways, and using clothes-lines like jungle gyms. We would truck around the streets till it got dark in the summer, then our mothers would call us from back door steps like they were calling their cats.
Our new street, which is a cul-de-sac, has that feeling to it. The first evening I came home from work, the last of the sun was still warming the asphalt and the kids from number 17 were roaring around the end of the street on bikes. I don't know how many there are, but there were lots of sizes. Yesterday, as Ange was leaving, I had the car door open to put Sweeney into his car seat when one of them sidled up. I'm guessing he was about three.
"Is that your house?" he said, pointing to next door.
"No, that's my house," I said.
"Oh. Where's your mum?"
"My mum doesn't live here."
"Oh. Is that your baby?"
"No, this is my nephew Sweeney."
A few seconds while he looks Sweeney, who is holding out his hand to the boy.
"Is that your house?" he says, pointing to our house.
He and Sweeney lock eyes and talk baby for a little while. It's very cute, but Ange has to go, so she says see you later to the wee boy. As he walks off, he points to the house next door and says "Is that your house?"
His said his name was Say, or something, I dunno, and he was very cute. The postie has already made pals with a Chinese man across the road called Ving who built his own shed out of concrete, and a ginger cat has been frequenting Charlie's food bowl via our catflap. It reminded me of how everyone's yard was everyone's, fences meant nothing, and neighbourhoods were for exploring.