By the time I got to Christchurch, New Zealand, I was done living in people’s houses. Not because of the people, but because of all the food I felt obligated to eat. I don’t normally eat breakfast, yet house rules require I wake up and join everyone for breakfast and eat it too. So I was intent on staying in a hostel.
Luckily the YMCA (which allows females to stay as well) had open space for the next 5 days with a really reasonable rate. I was in an eight bed female dorm room. I was alone the first night, then the next day I returned from my exploration of the city to find an elderly lady sharing the room with me. Her name was Margret, and she was staying there because she had moved out of her apartment to take a job down south and for some reason needed to stay in the area for a few more days to wait for her place to live down there to be vacated.
She was a nice, talkative lady with heaps of stories to tell. So talkative in fact that I had difficultly telling her that I had to leave to go find dinner because I was starving. She said she had a car and if I wanted she would drive me around the next day and show me the city. I said I’d think about it over dinner and let her know.
At this point in New Zealand I become accustom to trusting strangers. After all she seemed harmless. I came back from dinner to find her sleeping and woke up the next morning to find she had gone out, but had left a note on my night stand.
“Girl, if you’d like, I’d be delighted to take you on a personal tour of Christchurch. I’ll be back around noon, you can let me know then.”
I decided to go. It was a Sunday and everything was closed anyway.
Later I found myself in her car full of all her personal items (remember she was moving down south and had all her things packed in the car, ready to go).
We stopped at the grocery store to pickup snacks, then around the area we went. First stop was the beach which had a long pier. It was cold but she insisted that we walk all the way to end. Along the was she told me about her life: ex husband, daughter, siblings, etc. She told me how when she was 12 her younger brother (who was 10) died in some sort of accident. I said “oh that is so sad,” and she replied, “yeah it was at the time.”
We stopped by her old apartment to get the mail. She wanted me to wait in the car because if I went in her old roommate would talk me ear off and we’d never get out of the place. From there we went to the neighboring mountains along a road that she had never driven on before. There were great views of the city and she was so excited about pointing out where everything was from there and how the landscape all fit together. We stopped at some old Tudor house, which was build only in that style about 50 years ago. It was now a restaurant, but she insisted that I at least peak inside the door to see the decorations.
She filled me in on all her views about life and how it works together and shifts into new forms. How there is always going to be something to look forward to and life often just mends itself.
By dusk we were driving down the mountain. Near the bottom, one of her car tires sounded like it was going flat because there was a reoccurring flapping sound. I told her to pull into a parking lot so I could check it.
I was kind of excited because I was finally going to get to use my tire changing skills, but after checking the tire I realized it wasn’t flat at all. I had her reverse and pull forward just as an extra check to find where that noise was coming from, and nothing seemed wrong. So we figured we’d cautiously drive our way back to the YMCA. As we pulled out of the lot she noticed that it was Tyre Shop parking lot and she exclaimed, “The tyre shop fixed my tyre!” I laughed because, well, it was true, the noise was gone and everything was fine.
In celebration, she bought me an ice cream cone from MacDonald’s and we continued on our way.