I’m struggling to understand exactly what the Higgs Boson particle means. Generally, my celebration of things physics-related is limited to the quirky nomenclature assigned by what I imagine to be even quirkier brainiacs. I like quarks because I favor the strange and charm varieties who co-exist with their top and bottom siblings and the problematically similar but different up and down cousins. Rumor has it that bottom and top were once called beauty and truth. Charm and strange probably cringed a little at that. My mom called me by the dog’s name until he died. Actually, for a year or so after. My raised hackles did nothing to stop that damn dog from eating my rat. Stupid Duffle.
My mom has finally come to visit me which means New Zealand, actually, and so we’ve been taking a look around. I’m not complaining at all when I say that time has slowed to accommodate her short visit. In a few short days, we stormed through Christchurch’s resourceful container city– it’s not just merchants lodging in those modules; it’s banks and cafes and the post office. Only hours after listening to a waitress describe the quakes she felt, the 7.0 up near Opunake rolled us into the hallway and then back into our room where my mom huffed and puffed about possible train derailments. She also screamed a few times in the night but excused herself so nicely that I couldn’t begrudge her whatever anxiety she transferred to me. In the morning, the train to the West Coast did not, in fact, derail. It was a strange thing to choose for worry but I spent many long seconds envisioning that catastrophe– the crunch and bend of metal, rocks grating the undercarriage, the broken window, my body launching over twisted tracks, the squeal of brakes and then silence and then screams. As the Tranzalpine climbed toward Arthur’s Pass, the views surpassed my mind’s mild cataclysm. That was nice. Think icy blue waters and frozen grasslands. Then fat snow on silver green boughs. I stood on the viewing carriage and the wind whipped my hair free of its oil or dirt or the filmy rainy drizzle that my mom said caused a complete soaking though she really only shimmered and dried just as soon as I passed my hand over her glistening shoulder.
Everyday at 4, we ate carrot cake. Shortly thereafter, we ate dinners comprised of too much meat and desserts of equal weight. My mom said things like “is New Zealand cuisine just American cuisine?” and “this is very interesting.”
We rented a car from Greymouth to see the Pancake Rocks and we waited through a few impressive sets to see the biggest waves aid in the erosion. We cheered the rainbows and my mom said, “that was a biggie.”
Now, time continues at a snail’s pace. We wait in the airport lounge because my mom sweet-talked Air New Zealand. I’ve had shortbread and tea and chocolate. I’ve listened to the drone of a college student who doesn’t yet know that her voice is worse than train derailments. And now, at this moment, the plane has arrived for us. It’s four hours late and my fingers can’t type anymore. My mom said, “if you log me out of Facebook, will I ever be able to get in again?” I said “no.” And she shook her head and said, “Gate 18, baby.”