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Perfect Anywhere But Here

March 15th, 2010 by the_lifer

“Well, tell Win and Will they must come around sometime soon. We’ll get the spa pool going and have a barbecue, if this gorgeous weather holds. Ronan! Ronan, down! Can’t you hear him barking? I must go take care of this beast of ours.”

Helena is the middle Wellington sister. She takes after their fair, rounded father, with a heart-shaped chin and a petulant expression.

In any other region of New Zealand, her cross look would be impossible to explain. To a visitor from Napier, or even Auckland,  Helena has it all. A devoted tower of a husband, unusually well off by Wellington standards. Two healthy boy children who fall over each other to give her hugs, shouting their love. A vast yet warm house with a three-car garage and dramatic views of Wellington Harbour. A passport with plenty of stamps in it from her twice-yearly trips overseas. A part-time job teaching art. A tall, silky Irish setter – but it’s the dog that gives the game away. Every time her family visits and pets the well-behaved animal, they say, “You could never have this dog if you lived in Wellington.”

Helena, you see, lives in Lower Hutt.

To live in the Hutt Valley is to have a slightly damaged Wellington region experience at bargain prices. Houses are affordable, schools range from decent to excellent, life’s luxuries (spas, dining, gyms) are cheaper, hiking trails abound. The damage comes when anyone from outside the Hutt hears where Helena lives.

It was almost a relief when she had the children and stopped going to her Wellington friends’ parties. There was always someone who would go on at length about how he’d never, ever, in a million years, live in the Hutt, even though he was still flatting at 45. She knows it’s ridiculous to let things like this bother her. She might do better at brushing it off if she didn’t get a dose of it from her elder sister Karin (“It’s ever so cold there, and the Dowse has just taken so long to find itself”) and her mother (“I’d see the boys more if you were closer, dear,” when Maungaraki is only 15 minutes from downtown Wellington).  It’s nice that little Win is back – she can’t wait to show her how much the boys have grown – but she does hope that she and Will get a car, this time.

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