Saturday, May 23, 2015

Evanston: 31; 10,228; 73

        I like to quantify things; and considering that creations as varied and subtle as Bach’s music and Turner’s paintings can be expressed in 0s and 1s, I suspect that everything can be quantified, we just haven’t had the time yet to understand how.  The age of science is only a few hundred years old.


        The number of hours from when I stepped from GANNET into the Avon Redstart to when I opened the door to our condo in Evanston.
        When I listed the elements of that journey I forgot to include the shuttle from downtown Auckland to the airport, a distance of 12 miles/20 kilometers for which the fare was $35, about the same as the normal fare for the bus ride for eighteen times that distance from Opua to Auckland.  I was glad to pay it.  A taxi would have cost at least twice as much.
        The shuttle, a small van, drove around picking up other passengers.  I had not been in the center of Auckland for many years and much of it was unfamiliar.  In addition to maple trees and fallen leaves there are many new buildings and a general air of prosperity based in part on a real estate bubble, though the Prime Minister denies one exists.  Auckland has become one of the most expensive cities in the world based on the difference between the average cost of a house and the average income. 
        But when we turned a corner and started up a hill I somehow instantly knew we were on Queen Street.  
        Restless, unable to sleep after months of never sleeping for more than an hour keeping the hull cracked EGREGIOUS afloat, I walked up Queen Street my first night in Auckland almost forty years ago.  I knew no one.  I had no New Zealand currency.  I stopped outside a German restaurant and looked at the menu.  From inside came sounds of music and laughter.  I walked on and continued past shops and banks and offices until my legs unaccustomed to walking gave out near a hot dog stand named “Uncle Sam’s”.
        I was more than just an American in a foreign country he had never before visited.  I was far more alien than that:  I had become a creature of the sea not yet adapted to being washed onto land.
        I stopped at a corner waiting for the light to change.  A woman came up beside me.  I smelled her perfume.  It had been a long time.


        Carol took a vacation day yesterday to turn this into a four day weekend.  For those of you in other countries, Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S.  We drove up to the Botanical Gardens for lunch, and walking around there and pacing the final steps back in our condo, I did 10,228 steps yesterday.  This is the first time I’ve exceeded 10,000 since I walked into Pahia three weeks ago.  That walk was harder, up and down hills.  Here in the flatlands steps are level.
        When I left in March, trees were bare.  Now they are lush with green leaves.
        Here life is more comfortable.  The coffee is better.  The drinks are cold.  Water hot and cold appears at the turn of a knob and is not ferried from shore in jerry cans.  The Internet connection is infinitely faster.  But I do not need more comfort than I have on GANNET.
        Evanston’s incomparable advantage is Carol.


        As some of you know, 73 is my age.  It is also the number of push-ups I did on Thursday.  In fact I did my entire work-out that day for the first time this year, including push-ups and crunches in sets of 73-40-40 without pain beyond that normally associated with working out.
       Only a few months ago I had accepted that this would never again be possible.  The shoulder isn’t quite normal.  There are certain movements that still cause pain.  I know that the tear in my rotator cuff will never heal; but it almost seems as though it has.