I’m writing this on the plane home to Auckland. Three days in Melbourne have disappeared faster than the glass of NV Larmandier-Bernier Longitude Brut we downed at Luxembourg on Saturday night. I feel rejuvenated and ready to return to life. I missed my husband and children but know I will return to them a more rested and culturally satisfied woman. My-Friend-Jarrod kept asking if we were doing enough. Darling, if you are reading this, I had a ball. To slow down, to lounge and to talk—about the finer points of grammar, the career success of Barbra Streisand, how to roll perfect seashells of cream with a hot spoon, and the echoes of parallel lives—was the salve this girl needed. Continue reading
The term ‘mindfulness’ had been invading everything I read like a persistent two-year-old tugging at my t-shirt. Eventually, I’d acquiesced and looked up the term on Google:
30.09.14: Wanaka, New Zealand (Katharine to Caroline)
It’s been great to hear your voice again over the last few days. I’m so looking forward to our Wednesdays recounting adventures, alongside the laughter of our children and a glass of pinot. We’re homeward bound, and yes I am happy we’ve had such a wonderful adventure. As Hanz sums it up: “We’ve had a summer holiday and we’ve skied!”
Working out the work-life balance has seen me find a calm place where I’ve been noticeably more engaged. It’s an unfamiliar pace of life yet one that is without an anxious panic and increased heart rate. I sleep eight hours a night and feel less rushed; there are no lists to complete. Ironically as I reluctantly prepare for our journey home life here has also become more cemented; Coco has found her groove at day-care and tells me with tears she’ll miss her friends, my heart skips a beat. We’ve started to meet people, who I know if we lived here, I could easily become friends with, and we’ve established routines.
Thursday 18th September, 2014: Pt Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand (Caroline to Katharine)
I’m home. Just to say it feels good. But here’s the thing: both Jez and I feel completely weighed down by things. We have so much stuff. After living out of two suitcases between four of us for two months, every bulging bookcase, every box of toys and every pile of fluffy towels feels heavy and, well, excessive. Everywhere I look there are things to put away, to mend, to take to the hospice shop, to get the tradey back to fix. How can even our most precious things – our paintings, our mementos, even books – feel so heavy?
Here in Spain I’ve been overwhelmed by the most delicious, passionate connection – not once, but twice. And, although he was with me both times, I’m reluctant to say the connection was not with my husband.
4.09.14: Wanaka, New Zealand (Katharine to Caroline)
I was saddened to read about Aunt Gloria’s passing, I know how much the journey unravelling your family history has meant to you and to lose another link must have been heart-wrenching. I wish I could hug you, I have in my heart.
We are nearing the end of our adventures friend, so many stories to tell. Spring has arrived in Wanaka; daffodils, pink blossoms, baby calves and lambs. We’ve hardly had a winter though, with today being the 20th day of clear blue sky and sunshine. Some days it feels like mid-summer, the only hint of winter being a light coating of Jack Frost in the mornings. Locals are calling for rain; the land is hard and dry, the mountain road’s a dust bowl, while the Lake is low and water reserves are drying up.
“Home was the place you lived now, the place you lived then, the place you came from, the place you went to. The place you want to be at the end of the day, when your feet are tired and you want something hot for dinner.”
– Queen of Beauty by Paula Morris.
“This building,” I say pointing to the stunning verandah-ed manor lounging across a whole block of the main square of Tamariu, “someone’s home? Una casa?”
The waiter’s wonky eyes brighten and he nods “Si, casa.”
Monday 25th August, 2014: Mas Gatell, Altafulla, Spain (Caroline to Katharine)
How frightened I was when I heard about the heli-skiing accident. It was the strangest thing – for a brief moment, before I’d received your email, I experienced what I can only describe as a tear in the fabric of reality, when it was just as possible it was you in that helicopter, as not. How close you came; so close that the man who died was a fellow Aucklander from just two suburbs away. So sad. I’m so thankful you’re ok. Do these close calls, these sliding door moments, define us? If we’re lucky they pour a resolute glaze over life and have us swinging from the chandeliers shouting “I’m alive!”
Hi lovewordsmusic followers. Some of you have emailed me asking for ‘Letters to a Friend’ as blog posts rather than a static page so you receive them as updates. Your wish is my command! You will now receive an email each time there is a new letter between Katharine and I. This post is a bit of an admin catch-up, with three new letters at the top, and all the previous letters below, so that I can delete the old page. Bear with me.`
Some of you have written asking how Kath and I became friends. We met at the very first New Zealand Fashion Week in 2001. She was there doing PR for her fabulous fashion clients and I was there managing my runway models (oh, and trying to sort out the drama of glued-on sequins tearing the skin of one of my top model’s faces…but that’s another story). My, how times change in thirteen years.
And Kath, darling, I SO owe you a long letter…
The first time it happens I’m hovering in front of the glass cabinet at a patisserie in Chamalieres-sur-Loire, deciding between vanilla and chocolate éclairs. I order both. The red-headed woman behind the counter has a lace-edged apron tied around her waist. She narrows her eyes, tongs poised above the perfect pastries at the front of the cabinet closest to me, and asks: “Tu es Belge?”
“Non, je suis néo-zélandais,” I say.
Her smile brightens and her tongs move closer to her, towards the largest, freshest éclairs at the back.