Didactic Delusions From the Other Side: 10 Days in New Zealand With dad
A quotidian delusion enervates my soul. So I decide to swallow a pill. Ecstasy. Time to roll…
Distractions abound, I’m riding in on a flight from Bali, Indonesia to Sydney, Australia. The color wheel is a pinpoint in the middle of my eyes — I’m staring out the window and the light of the sun is brighter than the biggest explosion that has ever come from 500 million years of evolution. The Cambrian Explosion. The Middle Ages. A doorstep into eternity.
“Sir, you’re gonna hafta buckle your seatbelt.”
“Yeh. Huh. Oh. Wut? Yeh.”
It’s going to be another three hours from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand. Where hounds are waiting surreptitiously like scoundrels to sniff out your drugs and paraphernalia. I say it out loud.
I’m scratching my arms, rubbing my chin, looking out the window, worrying, wondering: did I bring my passport? did I leave something behind? did I count my change before I left? will I be able to exchange my money when I land? what about a SIM card? will I have enough time? why is the Earth round? do demons dance to the drivel of radio stations back home? why do Buddhists sit so still?
I land — the pilot lands the plane. We all stand there waiting like Misfits. I see everybody’s face painted white and their eyebrows look like anchors. We’re stuck. We’ll be stuck here, forever! All of us! OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. GET ME OFF OF THIS FUCKING PLANE. I CAN’T FUCKING TAKE IT ANYMORE.
The line starts moving. Somebody gets ahead of me.
YEAH, SURE. WE’LL ALL KEEP OUTTA YOUR WAY.
New Zealand has a peaceful effervescent hue. It glows. It burns, too. The whole country is one landmass separated thousands of years ago by tidal waves and magnetic shifts in thought, consciousness, and blunderbuss.
Dad and I meet up out front. Haven’t seen him in months. Good. He looks the same. Skinny, strong. Stupid without almost nothing going on in his bean other than what he needs, what he wants, what he has going for him, what he’s gotta do. And I am like him, I guess. Except my dad would never take ecstasy.
“Dude,” I say to the guy driving me on the shuttle to the Auckland hotel. He’s talking about pancakes or mountains or mountains of pancakes. I can’t fucking tell.
“Is this where weather stops?”
“Long flight, eh?”
“You could say that.”
“Beetles crawling out of your ears will represent a new Democratic Republic. No more voting. No more hypocrisy. No more glaciers. No more thoughts from mankind. Women are here too, bro. Can’t forget that…”
I’m rubbing my eyes. Pinching the inside of my mouth with my teeth. I feel like crawling into a hole. Why?
“I have no idea why you’d wanna do that,” the driver responds. He parks the vehicle. “Okay, here we go. Enjoy the pancakes.”
I get off and greet my father. “I’M GETTING OFF THE SHUTTLE,” I shout out to him.
“Bry. You okay?”
No. No, no, no. I’m only imagining he’s saying that.
Together, we get slightly intoxicated out back of the hotel where there’s also a pool. It isn’t before too long and stuff before I’m cursing up a storm, rivaling the seances that take place behind my eyes, permanently.
“I don’t know, Bry,” my dad says, “if that makes any sense.”
“And then the bees will die. And then the bananas will empty themselves of their long rods and we’ll all be slipping on banana peels for the rest of eternity.”
I finish my beer. “You want another fucking beer, dad?”
A lady is at a nearby table plotting the end of the world from her iPhone tablet.
I get the beers. New Zealand dollars. You gotta pay with your card. I hand him an old credit card. I see lines exploding gracefully from the card, red, yellow, purple, neon blue.
“Um, sir. This card has been declined.”
“Listen, you ape. The fluxom buxom babes in this place will remember this.”
I hand him another card. Is it red, teal, orange, or fluorescent pink?
“Did it work?”
My dad comes back into the bar. Apparently, I’m losing track of time. And what is time anyway? Did we make it up? Does it really exist? They say timing is everything. And that’s true. If you don’t pull out quickly enough, you could end up with a kid you didn’t want.
Suddenly, I realize I’m talking to myself. We’re eating dinner, my father and I, together.
“I feel like eating this meat with my hands.”
I burst out laughing for five minutes straight. Nobody around us notices nor cares.
Lake Taupo! We’re riding south the next day. Lots of open fields. Sheep. Sheep shit. Cows. Udders. I eat another pill. Butterflies come out of my stomach.
“Dad, open the window!”
I start drooling.
“You think my liver’ll be okay?”
We get to the lake and dad wants to get out of the car even though he has to piss and we take some pictures, the weather is kinda cool, I’m shoeless, fuck shoes, the light and the skyline are stretched out in the distance across the horizon and nobody is really sure if it’s just a projection from the back of our brains or if it’s really there, and when you get up to it all you make it real by touching it, by feeling it, by posting it to your social media profiles.
A line of people turn around to look at me as I’m explaining myself to a streetlight that’s turned off.
“This is hurtful,” somebody says. And they all walk off. Never to see me again.
That night, my dad goes to sleep pretty early and I stay up drinking beers and watching TV. The next few days will blend together and the best moments will be when I go outside at night to take a piss and stare up at the stars. Vast. Everywhere. It’s like the entire universe is filled with salt and pepper and dreadlocks and muffins and catharsis, psychoses, neuroses, boogers, fingernails, movies, galaxies, superstars, spaceships, ankles, hands, heads, songs, and it’s strange, I’m thinking, my bladder wide open, to be in a place where the natives weren’t all massacred by dudes in powered wigs carrying crosses. Those goddamn sadists!
I scream it up at the sky while zipping up my toadstool.
Somebody next door shuts their window.
“Did you … honey, did you hear that kid out there?”
She’s ironing her blouse for the morrow, curlers in her teeth.
“Must be an American.”
Eventually, we haul ass outta town. Early. Driving around the edge of the lake. A five-hour drive from Lake Taupo to Wellington. Then from Wellington, we’ll be flying south — to the south island — to Queenstown. From Queenstown, we’ll be flying to … no, shit … we’ll be driving for about an hour to Lake Wanaka. My hands are sweating. Another pill. I can still see the stars up in the early-morning, dimly-lit, paradoxical, stubborn, dreamy sky.
“Dad, you ever feel like a bedbug?”
“What are you saying?”
“Why are we doing this anyway?”
“You think too much.”
“We’re like magnets, transmitting reality into outer space and it’s reflected back into our own reality. Like a dream. We have control.”
“I want control.”
“I know you do.”
“What are you saying?”
“I feel like … I feel like … I could really go for an acoustic guitar right about now.”
I start humming and tapping on the window with my mind. I’m holding chopsticks from heaven.
“Feel that breeze?”
“It came from the most distant star in the universe.”
“Can we go home?”
I start shivering, shaking, back and forth. Sideways.
My dad puts up the windows, turns on the radio, drowns me out.
Now we’re surfing down from the sky, straight down to Lake Wanaka. The moon is out there, dragging us backward. Holding us in place.
“Shit! I knew all these places would be closed!”
(I don’t, I’m not mentioning the explosion at the Wellington airport when things didn’t go smoothly for my dad … THIS IS A NIGHTMARE, THIS IS A DISASTER. “Dad,” I said, “it’s like I told you. What you think becomes reality. Just ask that French dude with the stache. What was his name? The philosopher. Bloody hell. I’m blanking on his name.” Dad: “Bry, can you shut up for a second?” Me: “OH. THAT’S RIGHT. RENE DESCARTES!”)
The first night in Lake Wanaka. Six hours in a car with my dad split in the middle by an hour-flight, just about, from Wellington to Queenstown — the north island to the south island. All that space. Like a buttcrack. In between.
We sit down at a place and each get a pizza with lamb on that shit. It’s pretty good. I’m chewing for what feels like five millennia. “God damn,” I’m saying, catching eyes with a beautiful blonde waitress, “my mouth is drier than your god damn endlessly pointless conversation about nothing, holy shit, I can’t breathe, just stop, I need to stand up. Okay. I’m going to get some air.”
“Bry, you’re mumbling,” my dad says between bites of lamb chops, “I can’t understand what you’re saying.”
The next day, I’m threatening him with sleeping outside after a big fight. I go down by the lake with all my shit. Hmm, I’m thinking. Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t we be normal? Why does the sky get so dark around here at night? What happened to all the lights? The darkness. Shit. Shivering. It’s everywhere… The wind picks up. A car drives by the curb, two people inside of it eating their dinner where it’s warm. Together. And I’m sitting there. On a bench. Alone. Staring out across the lake and frozen sky. Purple. Totally aimless, ambitionless, and true. No planes. Just tumbling mountains. No war. Just peace. No books. No ripped or torn-out pages. No family. The earth is one big family. We’re all going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. No death. Just eternal sadness. And eternal joy, too.
“You see that kid out there talking to himself?”
“I wonder what he’s thinking about.”
I’m thinking about walking five hours to Queenstown. I start doing that. Turning around after a few minutes, slowly coming to my senses.
I go back to the room, knock on all the windows, calling my dad over and over again, finally, then, climbing through one of the windows, scaring the shit out of my father who was sleeping, resting, peacefully — without me around.
My shoulder blade gets scratched. A scar. Another one.
“WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
I don’t know.