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Morning Routine Overseas by Susan Hatters Friedman

Our second rental in New Zealand has cheap construction—again—despite the cost, but was a three-minute walk to the sea and that was really the most important thing. And yes, a safe neighbourhood with top schools for the kids. Our cobbled together furniture from trade-me. Homemade artwork blue-tacked on the chintzy hollow walls. What appeared to be a pole in the kitchen and was really papier-mâché. Homemade pasta drying on the back of all the dining chairs since my daughter took a class in pasta-making from our favourite Italian restaurant.

The playful morning ‘cheets’ of the fantails and the bells of the korimako. The arpeggios of the tui. Reasons to be alive, and the sun streaming before 6 in the morning. My partner, previously the cheerful-in-the-morning one of us, now routinely covers his head with two pillows as the November springtime labours on. In short order, our behind neighbour starts shovelling stones very loudly—how early in New Zealand is early enough to ask your neighbour to please just stop with the stones rather than mumbling to yourself about it? And certainly this can’t be an everyday need, to shovel stones? And the toddler in the front house is again this morning being yelled at by his mum. How much yelling at small children is OK in this country or should an outsider be alerting some authorities? I pull the pillow from my partner’s head to ask, in our new morning routine.


Susan Hatters Friedman is a psychiatrist. Her creative writing can be read in (or is forthcoming in) Hobart, JMWW, and Drunk Monkeys.

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