It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, not least that I kind of wish tomorrow wasn't tomorrow because I want to be at my best for it, and I won't be at my best tomorrow. But, like Christmas, this thing is bigger than me.
Everyone is excited. I went to get flags yesterday and the shop had been stripped (although I managed to get the last Samoa fan-cape, handed over by two girls who said they wanted to buy them together and complimented me on my team), and everywhere you go you feel a hum in the air... People are smiling, and the sun has been coming out, and everyone has a plan to get in tomorrow; even we, for the first time ever, have a table booked at our pub so we have a base. I don't think we recognise it because we're Aucklanders, and being an Aucklander means being largely indifferent to the city, but we're proud of Auckland (although if anything goes wrong we'll be the first to point it out). For the first time I can remember, we're united.
My friend's son is going to be on one of the waka; he's been training for weeks, and tomorrow his waka will have come from ten hours away - this ain't for show. Then, at four-forty, Dave Dobbyn is going to play Welcome Home. You already know how I feel about Dave (one of Auckland's Godparents), and to sing Welcome Home, in Auckland, to our population of immigrants, means the world to me. I was talking with a friend yesterday about how displaced I sometimes feel, living in a country that doesn't accept me as its own, but not belonging anywhere else. I feel like Dave understands this, and wants to change it, and sees the richness I do in living in a city so diverse. I already know I'm going to cry.
And then this, the promise that captured my child's imagination, whenever it was that Len Brown first said it would be the biggest fireworks display NZ has ever seen. Apart from how beautiful it will be, when those fireworks hit the sky, thousands and thousands of Aucklanders will be watching them, from vantage points all over the city, but together. Guys, we should do this more often. Lend me some sugar; I am your neighbour...
This is me and Vincent tomorrow, although I'll have slightly more of a lean because of my ribs. I can't believe it. Right here where we live... right here in St Louis.
Images from auckland2011.co.nz and motionsimages.blogspot.com