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Gentrification Roulette

November 20th, 2011 by admin

Karin Kapiti sits in one of the wee towns along State Highway 1. Everything in this hamlet, Paekakariki, is exquisite. Two gourmet cafes sit across from an upscale pub. A few art galleries and a “really very good” hair salon complete the street. And have you heard of the fantastic place by the beach that sells gourmet ice cream and retro design items? Right near that lady who’s having an underground “supperclub” in her home, with the best Mexican food ever?

Karin sips her cappuccino and purses her lips with irritation. Not at the cappuccino- that’s perfect – but at the fact that this isn’t her hamlet where she lives.

Ah well, it could be worse. She’s coming back from visiting an artist friend in Stokes Valley. “They replaced the gas station with a showpiece – perfect if you’ve got an SUV or a Holden – and opened up a Mr. Pies and Fries, instead of a half-decent cafe. We haven’t gentrified, we’ve boganified.”

The visit and the cup of coffee are a respite from the latest drama. The last thing she’d expected at her father’s dull retirement dinner had been her daughter resurfacing. She’d given an infant up – it wasn’t like she was going to marry a hardcore grunge albino in 1984 Wellington – and spent the next sixteen years squatting, getting arrested, and launching an art career. When the girl had gotten in touch at eighteen, Kev had just extracted himself from that. Karin, having learned from her misadventures, didn’t want to rock the boat.  Besides, the round-handed letter on pink paper from the girl didn’t seem like it came from any relative of hers.

But this time, her sister’s friend Wazzer had relayed a message, sending the daughter’s apologies for coming up to her at the dinner, and asking again if they could meet, just once.  The clincher had been Wazzer adding, “She says she’s down at Occupy Wellington most weekends.”

Karin is wistful about that. That would’ve been her, twenty-some years ago. What happened to her that she’s pouting over cappuccino and gallery wall colours instead of trying to change things?  What’s life been like for this girl, that she’s waiting tables and wanting to see these changes? Time for her to go Occupy, herself. She can show her daughter a thing or two.

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1 response so far ↓

  • Thank you for tagging these with the character names – it gave me the chance to go back in the story and see who Karin was. That’s the great part about the format you’ve created here – no flipping pages!

    I hope we get scenes of Karin and her daughter reconnecting at Occupy – that could be a blast!