It's one of the strange things about being a Kiwi, that feeling that there's something desirable hiding just beyond the horizon. If you're like me you probably moved around a fair bit when you were a child, even if it's only within the the same town or city, and it imparts something to a child that you never really appreciate if your parents were more sedentary.
I've sometimes thought of it as a restlessness, but I think the word doesn't really do justice to the feeling that any one place can never afford you all the things you need. I always think of restlessness as that feeling you get waiting for the ads to finish. What I'm thinking of runs deeper than that though. It's almost like an anxiety bridging where you are, and where you think you should be, or where you should belong. Maybe the Germans have a word for it.
Anyway, the feeling is something that drove me for many years, as I'm sure it does others.
Waitaminute, could I just pause this blog for a sec to say that Tapes and Tapes, 'The Loon' might be the best new album I've heard in ages? I've been playing it all week and can't stop listening to it. I'm kind of addicted to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but this...
OK, carry on.
The kind of restlessness I'm talking about is almost like a hunger. A hunger for change, one that spurns continuity and fosters feelings of boredom when the lustre of something, anything begins to fade.
In my own case I know that I began to experience ennui (is that the right word?) in my teens. I was too big for the Mount and I knew it. I had travelled with my parents when I was young, and the bigness of the world was only reinforced by reading and TV. I committed myself to never being the one who settles and breeds immediately after school.
Maybe the word is ennui, but without any undertone of sadness? Rather with undertone of curiosity? Or ambition? Whatever. The fact is I know that a great many Kiwi's feel the same thing. Why else would we constantly pack up and roam the world?
It drove me to hitch across much of New Zealand, even when it meant I had to sleep in ditches, under trees, in flax bushes. It drew me to deep deserts and exotic beaches. And truth be told, were my circumstance a little different I'd still wander. Or maybe it's just the gradually ripening age talking. There comes a time when sleeping in bed-bug ridden dives just gets a little too much. That and the bald fact that there is nothing sadder than an old dude still hanging out with and trying to pull backpacking 21 year olds.
While the fever had me though, there was little ball of energy within me that could only be satisfied by what I can now call with only the slightest hint of cheesiness, 'the open road'. I never fancied myself a Kerouac, but the guy kind of had the right idea with that 'pack up and piss off' attitude. It's a feverish momentum of sorts. You become driven by the satisfaction of finding yourself in new places and among new people. Obsessed with wandering across open spaces, the world unfolding itself beneath your feet. All the time driven by that little engine of energy.
Sure it's never easy. Sometimes you find yourself sleeping on a couch for weeks at a time eating only microwave burritos while you look for work. Sometimes you end up working as a gardener or dishwasher. Sometimes you don't work at all and have to stow away on the Overlander, moving every half hour to avoid some grumpy conductor who doesn't like pesky hippies smoking pot on his train and not stopping some bogan stealing clothes out of people luggage. Not that I ever did that though.
It's a beautiful thing though that restlessness. You can end up 35 with virtually no flashy assets but not give a shit. And why? Because there's all those things in you that sit atop that ball of energy and soothe it daily. They drape themselves about it and muffle it's demands. They provide you with endless bullshit stories to share with workmates, family and strangers.
So I salute you all you restless bastards. Let's hear it for all those Kiwi's out there dragging there sorry carcasses into every watering hole from here to Aberdeen. All those Kiwi's making brash statements to brash people and wry jokes about dickheads.
So to you, "Wicked".