When we first arrived, a very nice man asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks because I had no answer – I was literally stumped. The fact that I was stumped was troubling to me, and dumbfounding to him.
He asked me: “Fred, outside of running Her Corner and taking care of your kids, what sorts of hobbies do you enjoy doing?”
Sounds so simple, right? And I assure you he was only trying to make polite conversation with someone who was new to NZ.
But I completely stumbled.
“What do you mean?” I asked
“You know” he said, “Do you like to play an instrument, or do you like to do art, or do you have any sports that you are passionate about?”
It was bad. All I kept wondering was whether learning to hang my own laundry and doing it three times a week would count, or whether a crash course in recycling would count … but I knew it wouldn’t.
So I asked him what his hobbies were.
“Well, this year I took a pottery class. I’ve always been curious and wanted to try it as an adult. And last year I learned how to carve things out of wood. And every Sunday that’s my time to bake something for the family.”
Yeah. Wow. I had an inferiority complex right then and there, on the spot.
This man is actually quite busy as a full time physician who also is very hands on with his children and as far as I can tell, is a really great husband. His cakes, by the way, were incredible and all the kids asked for seconds.
I muttered something about how busy my kids kept me and how much I loved to work, and that I didn’t mind working all the time when I wasn’t taking care of them.
And he nodded politely. No judgment. Honestly, I didn’t feel judged.
I just felt so American.
What I have learned about living here is that his question is one of the most common questions you get here in NZ when someone first meets you. Honestly, no one ever asks you what you do for a living – because they don’t care.
They want to know what you do for sport, and what your hobbies are.
So I decided I had better get myself a few of these hobbies.
But getting a few new hobbies is much easier said than done.
Because here’s the thing, when you haven’t had any hobbies for a while, it can be pretty hard to come up with what you want to do! And it’s not like in the US it’s cool to walk around and work less so you can learn how to carve spoons out of wood. Even though I know that sounds insane; I also know it’s not cool. It’s just not.
At least in my world it’s not. Or maybe in my head it’s not.
Lord, I still have a lot of unpacking to do …
Anyway, deprogramming myself to make time for hobbies was my biggest challenge. I decided to take up Zumba, because why not? I loved the woman teaching it and the other women attending, it always makes you smile even if you go in the wrong direction, and it’s fun! But it took me 2 months to get my work calendar such that I could make the Tues / Friday 9:30AM classes on a regular basis.
I also wanted to change things up a bit and start horseback riding again, but in the mountains or on the beach. That took me another 2 months to clear out my calendar during lunch on Wednesday.
And I’ve decided that I’m going to learn to bake bread. I tracked down a woman who bakes and sells bread on the weekends, and she’s agreed to teach me. Why? Well, why not? Seems like a really good life skill to have in case something goes terribly wrong in the future. *right??*
The trouble with all these hobbies though is not that I haven’t been able to make it all work in my calendar. I have. I’ve gotten really good at protecting my time and my hours and working a bit more efficiently. It’s that I kind of like having hobbies. And I’m wondering what I’m going to do when I get home and I once again have no hobbies …