Today was day off #2. With the Holiday Riding Program over, and a few days of torrential rain, Sunday wasn’t looking busy, so Stan offered me the day off.
Sure, why not?
I’m a stressed planner. Hell, I’m a stressed person. I would say that anyone close to me knows this, but in some situations, I do my best to bottle up my emotions and stress. You know, brushing my feelings under the rug of a smooth exterior. The healthy way of doing things.
Planning for a day off is the same. Which is utterly ridiculous, you don’t have to tell me. But I like to make myself get out, do things, make things, so that I don’t let the pressure cooked stresses hold me back.
I decided that on this day off, I would explore Christchurch – seeing the Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Square, The Canterbury Museum, and whatever else I ran into there. I also decided I would make dinner for everyone.
Picture me, last night: Light off in my room, eyes glued to my screen, studying bus routes and city maps so I don’t get lost (again), and going over my recipe to be sure I remembered what I needed to get for dinner. Picture me also: telling myself I am being ridiculous, that if I miss one bus, I’ll catch the next one, and also that Erika and Stan won’t kick me out for forgetting to put green onions in a recipe that they don’t even know. Breathe. Sleep.
I wake up, get dressed, get breakfast, and get on the bus.
Going into Christchurch is always (2/2 times I have done it) beautiful. The city is a bit of a parking lot at the moment. Ever since the earthquakes, the city has been under construction, but it’s going slowly. I think it is one of my favorite cities.
Everywhere you look, there are posters and plans for what will be coming soon to the city. Despite the missing infrastructure, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything here. It is almost like the moment you plant a flower seed. You know that you can’t see it quite yet, but something beautiful is coming. There is always an subtle, electrifying excitement of what is to come.
Besides, what is there is stunning. There is incredible street art on the sides of buildings, the architecture is a mixture of incredibly old to starkly modern (these are my amateur guesses – I know nothing of architecture). And it is a short city. I have a soft spot for shorter cities, coming from D.C..
After getting off the bus, I made my way into the Botanic Gardens. It’s winter here in NZ. Plants are supposed to be ugly in winter, right? Maybe to some. For me, the Gardens were absolutely stunning. There is this incredible feeling that I have felt more times in this wonderful country than any other place. It’s a smile, but it is so much more than that. It is every part of me bursting with happiness, but it just happens to appear most evidently through my face. It’s like my whole being is laughing, without the sound. I felt that way walking through the Gardens this morning.
From tourists to local families with strollers, the Gardens were teeming. I have to admit, two weeks into this trip, I still don’t know which side I’m supposed to pass people on (the driving is different, so is the walking different, too?).
The highlight: the New Zealand Icons Garden. Walking through the native plants is a different world. I had planned to walk to nearby Riccarton Bush, which is a whole park of native flora. And then I realized I didn’t want to walk that far away, which prompted me to realize that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to, thanks to traveling alone. I’m actually really enjoying that part, despite the fact that flying solo was one of the things that intimidated me most about coming.
After leaving the Gardens and some walking around the city, I decided to head back home.
Time to cook.
In all honesty, I love cooking and baking, but cooking/baking for new people is a bit harder. I decided to make chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes and pork chops with fried rice. Both recipes, courtesy of my wonderful mother.
My cupcakes came out a little burnt and then they sank a bit more than they’re supposed to. But all 16 were eaten by the 5 of us tonight (that serving size is not recommended for anyone on a diet plan)
And my rice came out a bit drier than my moms, but all the pork chops and rice were gone by the time dinner finished. I was even given permission to cook again!
As I was cooking and serving, I realized that I have a lot more of my mom in me than I thought:
“Don’t thank me until you’ve tried it!”
“If it’s not good, don’t eat it!”
“The cupcakes didn’t work” (Sometimes when her baked goods don’t turn out the right way, she even throws them away, which I thought to be a sacrilege until I considered doing it tonight)
It might not have been as perfect as she would have made it, but I know that if I make thing even half as good as she does, they’re still going to be pretty damn good.
All in all, today was a great day. It was a day like any other: one where I worry about what will happen, and in the end, everything turns out perfectly fine. It usually does, and I know stressing is bad for me. I’m working on it little by little. I mean, I’m here, aren’t I? That counts for something.
Actually, scratch that. It counts for everything.
Now enjoy some pictures of a beautiful place.