Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It was an impossible thing.

I was sitting on a bench back in Auckland Viaduct again, drinking what could be my last ever banoffee-pie flavoured Frijj drink, as the Sky Tower loomed over me like a futuristic sentinel.

I like Frijjes, but I particularly like the banoffee ones. They're only a limited edition, but I've drunk that flavour in New Zealand, the UK and Crete. They all have a picture of my best friend Herschel on the front, who tells me he endorses them heartily.

Herschel... today's his birthday. I hope he likes the Han Solo figure I got him back in tram-filled Croydon.

Auckland Airport had fought real hard to prevent me from sitting there enjoying that drink though.

After the plastic-gloved official had searched all the way through my luggage (only my luggage mind), he'd stood there looking utterly dishevelled.

"You don't have enough clothes," he'd protested. "I was going to do you for illegally emigrating here, but... you don't have enough clothes."

I'm still mystified as to how he had thought that so many clothes could be fitted into my rucksack and Jessops carrier. The thing is, he also looked mystified as to where he'd got that idea from.

When I left, he wished me good luck.

Then, following my friend Perry's advice, I asked at the information desk where the cheapest backpackers in town was. I reserved a bed by phone, and after slouching about the airport for a bit, I eventually caught the bus back to Queen Street.

That had been a fairground ride. Watching Auckland town swishing past both windows again as Sting's uplifting Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic danced a jive out of the radio.

Climbing out at Darby Street, I carried my stuff into the lift and checked-in at the third floor of Auckland Central Backpackers. (ACB) The girl on the desk expressed surprise at seeing me, because my phone call had been so long ago now.

Up on the sixth floor, outside room 610, I inserted the key, turned the lock, opened the door, and three things hit me immediately.

1. The first was the darkness inside.

2. The second was the smell. The wet, heavy, languid smell of dirty people.

3. The third was something large scurrying around on the floor, almost invisible in the darkness, and almost silent too - surrounded as it was by an unknown number of unconscious bodies. It took me several seconds to discover and unlock the presumption that was leading me to wonder what a girl was doing in a male dormitory.

At that moment, these were the exact words that ran through my head:

"Well I'm not staying here long."

Outside on Queen Street again, I was delighted to find that the hostel was barely a minute's walk around the corner from where we'd stayed last time in Elliott Street.

Fig. 1: Elliott Street Apartments on the left edge, ACB the large white building on the right.

Great – so I already knew where everything was, not least the all-important Star Mart.

Reacquainting myself with ANZ across the road, I opened a bank account. The assistant was pregnant, and I was her final customer before she began her maternity leave.

Like the customs official earlier, I wished her well.

And so back to Auckland Viaduct, to pray and reflect on the four tasks ahead of me, with which I hoped to catch-up with everyone who had left home at 18. To join a church, to find somewhere to live, to get a driver's licence, (a tough one since I'm such a bad driver) and to land a job I believe in. (which will also require a permit)

Those are four more impossible things. Well, they always have been to me. With God however, anything's possible. Everything is therefore 100% up to him to do.

Finishing my banoffee-pie flavoured Frijj, I realised that it was drive-time on a Friday. I was now watching the masses of people milling around me, going home, or out at the end of their week.

I supposed that, a month from now, I ought to have become one of them.


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