K Road is tinselled with grey wiring. Like hair, it splits off, tacked to the paint-stiff facades that are strung along the Karangahape Ridge like braces at the mouth of the CBD. It was Te Ara o Karangahape, a trail, then a street; dust paved over, then all at once, ablaze, buildings pushing up through the gums of the hilltop. Some were knocked out, others drilled and refilled: first an elaborate theatre entrance, then vaulted fruit-shop, then a dynasty of cafes: Brazil, Theatre, Revo. Now it is an Indian Restaurant, coffee grounds replaced by turmeric steam, soaking the turquoise walls.
K Road is where my friends shed their skins. At the corner of Symonds Street, cigarette stubs rolling underfoot, their hips gain an extra twitch. Wind sweeps the filleted road where pedestrians cross the ridgeline, ballooning skirts and wriggling up chilled sleeves. Snakelike, they discard their clothes, donning an Op Shop stranger’s ski jacket; frayed denims; a polyester slogan tee:
‘Strong, stronger, strongest’.
At night they skitter down where the guts of buildings change, Vanessa in two-dollar fur, Caitlin with ragged, hand-me-down laughter. In pairs, they stomp the gamy concrete, small worries peeled off them like stickers from lunchbox fruit.
I’ve been too busy to explore Sandringham Road. Three nights, three mornings, and I’m still shipwrecked – buoyed above this small cluster of shops, trying my bed in different corners. The hot rattle of steam from the laundrette downstairs and summer cicada scratch worm through my curtains, Westfield-bound traffic waking me nightly, sheets patterned with orange slices of streetlight.
I can see the crest of Eden Park from my window, a metal thatch strung like a spider’s web between the pohutukawa. At the top of the road, it yawns in the close cram of house fronts, strange and cavernous and open.