The other night, driving back along the hill from town, I caught sight of the top of a crane at the port, and for a split second, I thought it was the sky tower.
I can't say it didn't hurt. A few seconds later I felt my heart return to its usual spot, and I realised it had leapt. My stomach was in knots.
I wouldn't call what I feel as a longing for the city. I don't know what it is. It isn't in my every thought, and I don't try to be reminded of it, yet anytime it's on tv or a newspaper, I breathe it in desperately, smiling at the natural recognition.
When I cry for it, it's not from emptiness. Every day, almost, I realise how much of Auckland is in me. Sometimes I feel as if someone were to cut me open, my veins would resemble spaghetti junction, and each ridge in my spine would differ slightly like each volcanic cone.
Memories wash over me, and each is centred around its location. I see the exact corner of the pub where we were when the Scottish band came in playing bagpipes and drums, and my heart swelled, and my sister gave them every bit of cash she had. I zoom out, and I see the building from the outside, as if I'm floating over it. The street is wet, and the air is blue-grey. There's mist, which looks like life; like smoke from flames, except that the flames are human bodies.
It's the strangest feeling of love. It's so strong I think it must be visible, but politeness and a desire to belong here make me try to hide it. It's in the way I fix my hair, and the things I say. It's in everything I do when I leave my house; the speed at which I drive, the space I leave in queues, the smiles I give, or don't give.
It's like a bruise. I think of it when I see it, or when something bumps it. Sometimes I press on it to make sure it's still there. Maybe I even press hard, to make it stay, in case it disappears and I do too.
I like it here. I'm on my way to being happy. I can feel the warmth. I just need to know that happiness here doesn't mean I can't go back. To belong is not something I take lightly. It took too long to feel it.