A shortlist of 5 reasons why:
- It’s easy to get dressed here and look okay. People are in their worst outfits or they’re looking outstandingly basic or they might be dressed to the height of fashion – but no one really cares. When you need to, it is always easy to fit the dress code as long as it monochrome and glowy. But most days you don’t need to. And most days it is nice to dress for yourself and for nothing more.
- Similarly, you really live here for yourself. There is no mass community and while that took a long time to adjust to it’s also kind of nice. You are free to carve meaning out of wherever or whatever or whoever is meaningful for you. And so you do, you selfishly work to preserve and grow and make flourish everything you care most about. Auckland is a city that thrusts independence upon you violently but there is also something intoxicating about the hard grind big reward flavour of it all. You’re always longing to escape it and have a break, but you always want to come back.
- It’s expansive. The city is huge with new places to go and explore even after four years here. There are always people you haven’t met and things you haven’t done and 100 routes you have never taken. It is also so busy, people flock here loud and confused and it is satisfying to navigate a place filled with wayward strangers and circular walkers who are all a little lost. Also, it’s kind of funny to explain to people that what they’re looking for (a store, an eatery, just somewhere to sit) doesn’t really exist here in this city of ours. I mean practically inconvenient for us all. But thriving in a place that seems difficult to survive in makes for a gritty sense of pride.
- It’s easy to indulge. The biggest, flashiest cloth napkin restaurants are legitimately almost the same price as Gloria Jeans. At first you feel underdressed but then you just feel fancy. It is also exciting to walk through these beautiful places and have the confidence to utilise them. The longer you live here the more the façade rubs away. I guess Aucklanders have a rep from being entitled but I think in some ways it is a good thing. We don’t feel intimidated by grandeur, and that is important I think.
- Auckland is home. It has been tough, yes. I wanted a city that would bend for me, give me somewhere soft to land a bit of gentle adventure and what I got was rough concrete, overflowing gutters and dirty streets that never seemed to lead anywhere. But it made me strong, in a way that staying at home never could have done.And there have been such good moments. There is something about learning to leap over the puddles when it rains, and watching the lightning flash big over the harbour and taking my winter duvet off in December that makes me feel at home. After four years in Auckland I can now swim in the ocean without flinching, down a glass of red wine without wincing and I revel in double decker busses, fast paced walking and sky scraper buildings that light up in the night.
There are also people here – beautiful good people who make my whole heart light up. Who I want to take with me to dinner parties and regular parties and who I also want at my wedding someday, or my kids birthday party. People who I can’t imagine my life without. All our stories have been made in this city of ours. With the hot pulse of the sun, in the breaks between rush hour.
Wellington is where my heart is at home. It is the place I grew up from child to woman, where I learnt to ride a bike and read novels and dance with a scary confidence I can’t muster in any other area in my life. Wellington is where I met my best friends and fell in love for the first time. It is full of all the memories that make me the person that I am now.
But Auckland is the city that the woman I am now is at home in. The place I have fought so many battles, weathered so many obstacles and watched people I that I loved walk away. But it is also where I learnt perseverance, and tenacity and how to love in an enduring way even when it hurts. Auckland is where I began to let go and where I danced the best I ever have and where I worked the hardest and tried the most. I’ve given it my all. And in this city that I have spent three years desperately trying to leave, somehow I have found 100 reasons to stay.