In honour of Gerry Rafferty's death today, I'm going to share a few thoughts with you all about something that's just becoming clear as we're about to leave this delightfully odd little island. It's occurring to me, after living here nearly 6 months and really getting a good feel for the place, that one of the reasons that I love New Zealand so much is the relaxed 70s vibe that permeates most everything. It's like a Doobie Brothers' album cover 24/7!
Here's my evidence:
1. The hazy crazy sunshine, rainbows, and gentle breezes all the time. It's a vision straight out of Ventura Highway.
2. At least 50% of the cars seem to be from the 70s or at least they're old enough that they remind me of the 70s even if they're actually from, perhaps, the 80s.
3. Hitchhikers! Everywhere! And no reports of any of them murdered (yet).
4. Radio -- American 70s songs galore!! Poor Gerry Rafferty, Billy Joel, Orleans (Dance With Me -- remember???), Little River Band, Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, Eagles... OK, they're not all American, but they do all take me right back to our trips back and forth to the Jersey Shore every weekend when I was a kid. Just today I drove happily along on the wrong side of the road blasting Dance With Me and singing as the wind blew through my hair. Pure joy. And if you've ever heard a song by, say, Kenny Rogers, Dr. Hook, Don McLean, or Credence Clearwater Revisited (new name mandated by attorneys, I guess), and wondered gosh are they still alive? Yes, they are and they are touring New Zealand.
5. All the barefoot Kiwi children roaming the streets, walking to the dairy and their friends' houses, taking buses by themselves, walking to and from school because it's safe to do so! Our kids don't do this anymore. It's quite foreign and scared me a bit at first. Not just foreign as in another country -- but, to an American, foreign as in another time.
6. The month of BBQs, swimming, fishing, camping, boating, and frisbee games. A month! When have any of us Americans taken off for a month to chill, drink some beers, and hang with our friends and family? Couldn't be doing that these days, but maybe in the 70s they did. I don't know, it seems like we could've. I was just a little kid. But I do know we would drive back and forth across the US in our RV now and then and that couldn't have taken only a week or two.
7. The abundance of butcher shops, dairies, bakeries, flower markets, and chemists in place of the more modern supermarkets (they do have supermarkets, too) and Super Wal-Marts (none of these, thank God). The people that run these businesses also know your face, your name, how many kids tend to trail along behind you and what they like for a snack, and what you usually order, even if you only got here a few months ago.
Maybe I've sold this idea and maybe I haven't, but I feel it and I know it's true. You really can step back into a more relaxed time, one that we all thought was lost and forgotten, and I totally dig it.