Small Family in Six Suitcases

Hi. How are you? We're a family of three who moved to New Zealand from Seattle in July '05. We sold or gave away pretty much everything except what we could carry onto the 'plane. We thought we'd write a bit about it. We'll love it if you can join us for a few moments.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


When was the last time you suffered from an old-fashioned chill? I ask because I think I hosted one last night. It intrigues me when folks get chills in 2006, because I thought that chills more or less went out with zinc buckets and people who put apostrophes into the words bus and pram. (To be honest it would have intrigued me in 1969, let alone 2006.)

But a couple of weeks ago our good friend Louise was rubbing her neck when we dropped in for coffee because she had been sitting in a draught the night before. And now, she said, she had a chill. Thought: maybe only New Zealand still recognizes chills? Could be.

So here I was at home, yesterday evening. I'd had a long and a hot bath which admittedly, if done on a late-autumn night, inserts you into proto-chill territory, although after I got out I put on some sensible after-bath clothes such as one of my fleece sweaters. I wasn't "asking for it", homies. However I then went to the computer, put my earphones on and spent an hour sitting still (mistake?), listening to music. Then I got up and headed for bed.

Man, I was cold. Everything suddenly felt like the inside of the fridge. Everything. Hallway. Bedsheets. Doors. Oxygen. I wrapped myself in the duvet like a taco and fell asleep. For a while.

At 3.35am I woke up with that rotten feeling you have when you suspect you're going to be physically sick. To vomit, in other words (sorry). It's awful, isn't? It's one of the very few times when your whole mouth and face, in mime-grade silence, devoutly and exactly utter the expression "Oh, no-oh-oo..." And as they do so, you shiver. You almost quake. Now I'm so skinny (try being married to a ballet chick and be the half of the duo that people refer to as "the really thin one") that I can hardly afford to shiver for more than about five seconds a year. As it is I look a popsicle stick, for goodness' sake, without any Richter moments.

Anyway, then I went -- as we all do when faced with this -- into fight and flight mode. This is that strange, here-and-now, pins-and-needles-y phase you get into whilst you're trying to work out really, really earnestly whether you truly are going to throw up. You put on the radio. You peer at the night light. You change radio stations. You switch back. You straighten your toes confoundedly under the covers and, here's the clincher, you try to think about whether any food you've eaten in the last half-day makes you feel particularly nauseous and then about whether you can even entertain the notion of eating anything ever again. Oof. Oh. Oof.

I didn't vomit. I had a fairly lousy night's sleep followed by a full day looking after Winston -- which turned out, as it always does, to be wonderful -- but my tummy stayed where it was. But what I did do, and what made the night's sleep fairly lousy, was to keep on shivering even in the 6am-8am slot, and I had to cocoon myself so tightly in the duvet that I looked like I was getting ready to mail myself. And, again, putting even a toe outside of my wrap felt as cold as an iceblock. When I did get up I made a fire and had a mug of tea and felt a bit better, though I had to keep layered all day to feel okay. Right now I feel pretty much 100% again.

So there we go. A real, genuine chill. Not a cold, not food poisoning, not flu (unlike our pal Helen on the South Island... hope you are feeling better, Helen!) but a chill.

I feel like offering myself to the local museum, to be put on a perspex stand next to the Settler Days Embroidery and the restored penny-farthing.


At 11:02 PM, Blogger Helen Leggatt said...

Had visions of you shivering in sweat soaked linen, Vera mopping your brow with a peppermint oil soaked cloth, your shadows thrown onto the timber walls by a bedside oil lamp!! Real pioneer stuff!!

*cough* *splutter* I, on the other hand, just have bog-standard, Lemsip resistant, 21st century, flu.


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