This page written circa 6 February, 2007.
This is not the promised continuation of my last Hamiltonian, there is a hiatus.
The afternoon it was posted, I first read Kay's It's me again, Wall with a mixture of shock and relief. Shock, because I did not ever expect Kay to visibly admit to misgivings similar to mine about children. Relief, because we can now make plans to sort things out.
I somehow felt before that we were both overloaded with our own responsibilities and bereft of our support structure; there was a temptation to blame New Zealand for all our dissatisfaction too. The Good Life was a step towards assessing our NZ situation to see if it really might be the cause of my unhappiness. I think it will prove that moving to NZ has brought at least as much good as it has brought evil, the leaving of friends aside.
The appearance of It's me again, Wall has stimulated a number of exchanges with friends distant and local. An old friend that we suspected to be in a similar state to us, upon reading Kay's confession-and-plea, sent a charming email that included two key comments to the effect that he was about to read the posting to his partner word for word, and that "if he had been a better manager he might have figured out some positive action". I don't know if Kay and I are brilliant managers of ourselves, but we are bloody well going to get on top of this.
For my part, I believe I now know what has been troubling me. I have one of the same feelings that first hit me when living with Carolyne years ago, namely that I am being overwhelmed with fixing things, four people increasing entropy and only me reducing it. I had the same feeling almost exactly 6 years ago, at the time I wrote Wit and Soul. Too many things break down or get broken for me to keep up, but here in New Zealand it is harder and more expensive to tackle them (or it would be if not for Stewart and Bruce, thank you guys). Living on a farm it is worse, add tractors and animals and fences and masses of plants to the list of maintainables. If you have a driveway lined with huge pines, you have to budget time for woodsmanship.
At right you see my good self contemplating the branches that fell last week, splintering a fencepost and wiping out a small tree. Even with the help of our neighbour John and his 4WD tractor we have yet to land about 6 metres of 400mm-thick renegade branch. Chainsawing is wearing. I think the picture sums up my mood quite well.
So what are we doing about this? The horse is going, is already with his potential next owners. The children go back to school tomorrow: Edwin especially needs "sorting out", he has got away with doing nothing useful or helpful this Summer. (Merinda accuses him of hiding in the lavatory when there is work to be done.) Kay has applied for a couple of jobs and may yet enrol in a course at UoW or WinTec (bother UoW for not offering Architecture). Our extension is fully approved and quotes are expected this week, so in a few months we will be able to have guests, or exchange students, or whatever. I am planning impromptu courses so that I can invite colleagues to visit, teach, and socialise. Plus there is therapy through writing!
Annette being a midwife, we knew the Hughes before we reached Santa Rosa.
Annette had just been diagnosed with cancer, she would die five years later.
We did not really know what to say in that situation.
We thought the best thing might be to leave them to deal with this,
since there was clearly nothing material we could do, and we barely knew
them. These days we know better. When I heard news of Tony being ill in
Australia I was on the phone at once. In Hamilton we are trying to get
plenty of time with Brian and Val, who has terminal cancer.
By contrast our troubles are pathetic, on a par with complaining
about mismatched socks while someone is drowning.
We have now been on both ends of something that teaches the lesson: It helps to see traffic of any kind from your friends. For your traffic, you have my thanks.