What our friends didn’t understand was that Suzie and I felt we had nothing to lose.
After all, everything we owned fitted into just three suitcases!
Suzie’s eyes sparkled with excitement at the idea of America. She liked to travel and see new things. That’s why she became a travel agent. That, and to earn enough money to eat as I’ve explained. She had tremendous curiosity about the world and was remarkably free of emotional tethers to places and things.
Suzie was a wanderer. A true free spirit. A rock-and-roll angel.
“We’re not waiting for our ship to come in, Nicky,” she’d said a few weeks before, when we told Nick and his wife of our decision to leave New Zealand. “We’re going to swim out to it!”
We talked it over with them. That’s when I first saw the look from our friends. The look that said you’re crazy to go and try animation in America! Making cartoons? You’re barely eking out a living now, how will you survive the mean streets of New York City?
In his youth Nick had done some O.E. (Overseas Experience) in the States, so he understood its allure. He and Suzie had worked together for years in the travel business too, so he understood her pretty well. He even understood me to some extent.
Nick was good with people.
It was animation that he couldn’t understand. He’d watched me work at it obsessively over the years and never seem to get ahead. Which was true, we weren’t very far ahead, as far as money and things of that nature. But we’d seen the world a bit and done a few things, Suzie and I, so I wasn't concerned about how far ahead or behind we were.
It helps tremendously in life to be young and stupid, sometimes.
Nick turned from me and embraced Suzie. They were special friends, he and her, she having worked for him from the beginning and helped to grow his travel agency in downtown Onehunga.*
“Keep the home fires burning, sweetie!” laughed Suzie in he musical voice. “Shame. We’ll be back before you know it.”
She kissed Nick’s cheek, leaving a smear of lipstick, before adding, “I just want to look at America and take in the sights. It ought to be fun!”
“Keep in touch, Suzie,” said Nick. “The place won’t be the same without you.”
I could easily believe that.
Suzie laughed again and Nick couldn’t help but join her.
Suzie’s laughter was like champagne, bubbly and bright and hard to resist.
I tugged her arm.
“C’mon!” I said and we began to run for gate seven.