It's A Wellington Life header image 2

The Great Leap Backwards

March 1st, 2010 by the_lifer

They’re at the end of a 24-hour plane flight, at the stage where to have to stay seated five minutes longer in their economy seats is to explode.

They are experienced travelers by now – that’s what a three-year OE is supposed to be for. They know their shared travel time is best spent in silence, white earbud wires drooping from their ears, a book in her hands, a game-laden iPhone in his. The woman in the window seat is slim enough to be comfortable in its narrow confines, but starting to feel the echoing blurriness of jet lag. Still, she keeps peering out the oblong window. When the green hills rolling below start to be speckled with houses, she plucks away her earbuds and nudges her companion. He raises his eyebrows and looks at her. “Wellington,” she says, loudly.

This rates having him, too, yank his earbuds. “Serious cloud cover. Think they’ll let us land?”

“There’s sun,” she says.

As they eye the sun and storm below them, the woman sighs, “Typical.”

They both know the city below them well. At least, they think they do. It’s their home.

A Janus-faced city, changing its course every election, tough for outsiders to read, offering the best and worst of everything, but little in between. The weather is either ravishing or horrible. Jobs are either fabulous creative gigs or government-beuracracy nightmares. Flats can be delightful aeries or gloomy, cold oubliettes. People are happily partnered or committed singles. Best friends or eternally sworn enemies.

As their plane spearheads through clouds and out into sunlight, it’s hard to tell what it’s going to be for them when they land, the good or the bad.

A steward has materialized beside their row. He holds out a basket. “Would you like a sweet?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Take a couple,” he says. They both do.

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