Carmel Rowden (b.1981) has recently returned to Auckland, New Zealand after six months traveling with her girlfriend Abby, mostly in South East Asia and India. Currently she is working with The Warren, a community workshop, and co-organising Ceramics for Supper, a fundraising dinner. She is the co-founder of the Index Finger website.
01 NOSTALGIA: What was felt more deeply because it took you back to your past?
I have recently had the surreal experience of clearing out the storage locker of my ex-boyfriend Pat, with whom I am still close, with the help of my girlfriend (also his friend). He lives in another city so we had the task of sifting through everything and saving things for him, taking things for ourselves and selling and giving away everything else.
Although the locker was ostensibly Pat’s, it was filled with things that were once ours: random household items, gifts I’d given him, books I’d forgotten to take with me when I moved out of our apartment. It feels like this could have been a cathartic time but that is not quite how I would describe it.
One outcome of this exercise is that we have inherited a lot of T-shirts and stationery from him, so even though I now see Pat less than ever I am reminded of him daily, which I have to say is pretty nice.
02 DETAIL: James Salter wrote: “Life is weather, life is meals.” Describe a meaningful moment involving each in the last month.
We went for a walk past swamp grass and sand dunes to find some caves near a remote beach. The day was hot, and we kept stopping at blackberry bushes to find the ripe ones. When we went into the caves (one was once used as a dance floor!) it was sweet, cool damp relief from the hot day.
Afterwards we walked back the way we came and then over the dunes to the beach for a beautifully clear, cool swim.
We have a new market gardener at our quite fancy but very close to us Saturday Market. It is great news as the market was becoming overrun with crumpets and bacon sandwiches. From our new stall I have been buying enormous and strangely shaped heirloom tomatoes which I eat with garlic and basil and balsamic on flash sourdough.
03 ADJUST: What are you amid that is almost (but not quite) right? A draft, a relationship, an injury…what needs refinement and attention?
After a long trip around the world, I am enjoying a long Aotearoa summer of semi-employment, lots of swims and bike rides, and joining activities and events I wouldn’t be able to if I was working full-time. I am trying to be simply grateful for this space and time, and not worry about my finances or job prospects. This is difficult for me.
04 INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
I’m not sure I have been. I’d like to be more generous than I am with my friends...right now they are indulging me a whole lot.
05 SELF-INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
All too often, considering my limited resources. I treat myself to fancy ice cream and kumara sourdough a little more regularly than I should. I also had a massage yesterday, but I feel good about that one.
06 MINOR SECRETS: Describe something you did in private.(Perhaps not a "secret," but maybe something that never occurred to you to share…)
I went on a ‘walkshop’ led by my friend, the artist Richard Orjis, who led us on a walk through the back streets behind one of Auckland’s most legendary streets, Karangahape Road. We spend a lot of time here, but it turns out I know almost nothing about its past.
A secret history of this street: what is now a bridge over a huge spaghetti junction of motorways was once the top of a solid ridgeline, a hill. They scooped it out in the ‘60s, displacing tens of thousands of people and businesses. Before they did this, Kararangahape Road was a fancy strip of department stores, and afterwards it was kind of dero, so all the rad queers and artists took over. It’s not all negative!
07 PARE BACK: Did you simplify something?
You should see my stationery drawers.
08 CULTURE LIST: What was read, watched, seen, listened to? And consider the ratio between the mediums.
Read The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Rewatched Florida Project
Saw Capernaum which was incredible
Listened to our mostly female banger playlist Hongdae Honeys and an old surf rock playlist
Still enjoying Still Processing culture podcast
Watched Russian Doll, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars and My Brilliant Friend
Attended Waitangi Day Dawn Ceremony
Reading a children’s science book called The Moon by Hannah Pang, beautifully illustrated by Thomas Hegbrook