31 Jan Between Delta and Omicron
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 7.2.22
During that sweet spot between Delta and Omicron, I considered it our job not only to scan in, mask up and get boosted, but also to get out and enjoy each other’s company – very carefully – while we still could.
And so after staying put since last August – the first time in decades I’ve spent that many months without travelling – I scooted out of Auckland on a little comedy tour to some of our best beachside towns.
The first leg involved a plane – a plane! – that delivered us to a regional airport. Airports are good at planes, but less good at ground transport in smaller places where economies of scale mean taxi stands are mostly empty and you can wait as long as your original flight for a cab to respond to a call.
We tried an Uber in New Plymouth this time to see if that might work but got a call from the driver wondering if our destination was far enough away to make his trip to the airport worth his while. Given he had the address of our accommodation, and the advantage of local knowledge, we figured only he could answer that question. Ultimately he decided a drive to the airport this sweltering Sunday wasn’t for him and we were back to square one.
The next wait for a taxi, though, gave me an opportunity to hoover up a particularly delicious and quite chunky lemon slice I’d had my eye on in the airport café. It put me back in the travelling groove.
The trick with travel is to surrender to what happens next. Though I’m not a fool – I realise that whoever said the joy is in the journey, not the destination, probably didn’t have kids. Or half-a-dozen comedians to herd like cats. Still, you learn to make the best of it and get your lemon slice where you can.
We played that night to a couple of hundred joy-filled locals and holidaymakers in Ōakura, a town I’ve never played before – and there aren’t many places left on that list. Even so, it produced some old friends not seen for a long time and there were catch-ups over fish and chips, and then new friends made on the other side of the show.
I never know quite how to explain what it feels like to do my job, especially after months of not be able to. It’s like coming home, or returning to myself, or finding yourself at a really good party instead of ending up at the slightly lame one and hearing that things are going off somewhere else. And as well as having your own turn, there’s the bit where you slink off down the back of the room to watch your mates work, and see a room full of strangers roar with laughter, nudge each other in recognition, feel delighted and connected and happy. It’s a grand way to spend an evening.
The next day it’s a six hour drive in a van – round Mt Taranaki which is as bare of cloud and snow as I’ve ever seen it, then up through the King Country to the Waikato and on to Auckland to prepare for the next leg. Could’ve been five hours, I guess, but there were whitebait fritters to be had in Mōkau, and at least two stops for mango ice blocks. We remember how to travel when we can.