Rose Matafeo's love letter to Auckland

My Dearest Valentine,

Twenty three years is a long time to have been together. I honestly never thought I'd be with anyone for that long. I always imagined myself having a million different husbands like a glamorous Elizabeth Taylor type who always went through messy divorces and re-marriages but always maintained that she never stopped loving any of the men she married. You just seemed to stick. You felt comfortable and safe, because you were all that I knew. We have so much history together, which is why it's so hard to be leaving you.

Many years ago, you took in my grandparents and great grandparents from Croatia and Scotland and Samoa and mixed them up to make the cultural cocktail I am today. You like mixed girls like me, don't you? You certainly have plenty of them. I'm pretty sure you're one of the only places where "sort of brown" could be a category to tick on a doctor's form. But at least you know what I'm made of! Everyone in England thinks I'm Italian because of my last name. When I tell them it's from Samoa, they correct my pronunciation - "Oh, you mean Si-mo-arr!"

You certainly had to put up with a lot from me as a teenager. You were there while I threw up an entire box of wine in a K Rd back street with a nice boy from Dilworth holding my hair and patting me on the back. You stayed with me during my emo phase while I hung around Aotea Square with a bunch of sulky teens (I could never nail the sweeping front fringe with my curly hair, but I experimented with black eyeliner.) You always kept me safe at night after gigs at Ellen Melville Hall and sent me home on the 025 bus with a Wendy's $1 Baked Potato in my bag for dinner. You took care of me.

Though I will admit, you still have your weaknesses. Getting anywhere on time with you can be a nightmare. When you're cold you're miserable, and when you're hot you're unbearable. I must say your size can be a problem. I'm not being a dick, it's just that Tinder in this city is near on impossible without matching to your brother's mate or a long lost cousin.

Still, I have so much to thank you for. You sheltered my mother and father and their young family in a little state house in Hukanui Cres, the place where I was born. This was before the millionaires moved in across the street, when their house was still a convent where we'd visit sometimes.

Mum painted hibiscus on the letterbox and it looked so good that they used a picture of it on the Daily Keno!

Thank you for having such a great girls' grammar school. They were five of the best years of my life. I was surrounded by beautifully diverse, vivacious and intelligent women every day. You seem to attract and nurture such talented and creative people

The thing is, it's not you. I just need a little space. Because without seeing the rest of the world, I won't be able to truly appreciate how much you mean to me.

Just because I'm elsewhere doesn't mean I'll ever stop loving you. I crave Dominion Rd dumplings, I dream of summer swims at Home Bay and most of all I miss the fact I could see every person I love the most in this world in one tiki tour around Auckland. Depending on traffic, of course.

All my love, always.

- Weekend magazine

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