When I was the same age as Isla, my younger daughter. That is, when I was at the magical age of between 9 and 10 years old, we lived at number 72A Hinemoa Street. Now, number 72 A Hinemoa Street is tucked in behind number 72, down the end of a long straight drive it shares with number 74A Himemoa Street.
One of the cool things that I discovered about living at 72A Hinemoa Street was that if I crept underneath the big grapefruit tree in the front corner of our section, opposite the drive, and then snuck along the hedge (I was, after all trespassing on 72 Hinemoa St.) and ducked through the hedge at just the right spot, I would be in the back section of Jimmy Drake’s house, which was on a totally different street to our house.
Jimmy Drake’s house is on James Street. James Street runs perpendicular to Hinemoa Street, up the hill past the hospital and into Kopeopeo near the Catholic Church. Jimmy Drake was in my class at school and his parents were English. The best thing about Jimmy Drake though, was that he had under his bed a big cardboard box full of comics. Now, we got pocket money and there were 5 of us at home, but for some reason our pocket money didn’t seem to stretch to comics so there was never more than 3 or 4 very well read and dog-eared comics at our house. Jimmy Drake’s cardboard box was a treasure trove and I used to quite often hang out at his place and do stuff and read comics.
There was another kid in our class who used to come around too. He was an Indian boy and I can’t remember his name, but I do remember that he had 4 thumbs. He had an extra thumb growing out of the back of his other ones and it looked kind of gross at first and then it looked kind of interesting and then you just got used to it and didn’t really notice them at all.
That year my other most favourite thing about number 72A Hinemoa Street was the big old pepper tree that grew in our back yard. It was so big that its lower branches hung over the garage in which Dad parked our boat and his car. You could if you were brave enough, jump from the lower branches of the pepper tree onto the roof of the garage. The first time you did it was really, really scary. The second time was less scary and by the time you had done it 6 or 7 times it was no more scary than walking down our back steps.
What I really liked about the pepper tree was that it was a perfect climbing tree. I used to climb it on stormy, windy afternoons and pretend that I was in the crows nest of a pirate ship, seeking out adventure on the high seas. On still days I used to climb right to the top most branches as high as I could and when I got as high as I could I would think that if I could just make myself light enough, just believe enough, I might be able to climb right off the branches and into the sky.
Now, it was one afternoon when I was exactly the same age as Isla is now and it was that dead time in the afternoon just after you have had afternoon tea and you know you won’t get any thing else to eat before tea time. Everyone else seemed to have something to do and I was at a loose end, so I decided to do what I often did in those situations and that was to climb the pepper tree. It was a still afternoon in late Winter, early Spring and there was that certain quality to the light. It was a perfect time for climbing. So, I climbed the pepper tree and by now I knew it so well that I took my favourite route to the top without really thinking about it. And then, I don’t know if it was the magic of the pepper tree (because there is no doubt the tree was magic) or the magic of that certain quality of light (because there is no doubt there was magic in that light) or a combination of the two, but without thinking about it I suddenly realised that I had climbed right up off the pepper tree and was hanging in the air!!
So I thought to myself “Goodness me. I’m hanging in the air. What do I do now…..?” And then, suddenly I knew exactly what to do. So, by a combination of doggy paddle and frog swimming I made my way over to the hedge and along the top of it and then landed very gently down in Jimmy Drake’s back yard. I thought if Jimmy Drake was around he might let me read this really cool Batman comic I had seen in his box a few days ago and hadn’t had a chance to read yet.
I guess Jimmy Drake and his parents were out and about somewhere that afternoon because there was no one about, so I ducked through the hedge, snuck along it and under the grapefruit tree and went inside for a glass of water and to see if my younger brother, Gus was up to anything interesting.
But here is the thing girls, the real (secret) reason that I practice yoga, and you know I do practice yoga quite a lot. The real reason is that I am trying to get that sense of lightness in my body. And some days, not very often, in fact very rarely, but some days I feel so light in my body that when I jump through I don’t actually touch the floor. I float just a little above it. Any one watching would not be able to tell that I was actually floating, but I can tell because I can remember the feel of the magic of the pepper tree and the magic of that certain quality of light gently holding me up.
Now we come to the real crux of the story. This is the reason that I tell you it and the reason I think I was made your father and that our lives are intertwined. I think that my job is, as long as I am alive, to remind you that the magic never goes away. It never disappears. The magic is always there, it is just that we get a bit too heavy, a bit too laden with stuff, and we sink right through it.