I’m free from the binds of the Northland and can finally begin my journey south, but I’m excited to spend the day shooting some portraits with Colby first.
We drive west to Bethells Beach and don’t hesitate to run straight for the ocean. I’m in disbelief at how incredible it is and we swim endlessly, battling a disgruntled Poseidon and soaking in the glittering turquoise.
We retreat for a while and get lost in conversation whilst we dry on the black sand and Colby shows me some of his fascinating film cameras. As the daylight shifts from blue to yellow to gold, I suggest we explore the rocks to find somewhere to shoot as I’m due to leave before dark. We climb around the cliff, hunting for crabs and discovering bizarre anemone and as the beach disappears from sight we pretend we’re on another planet.
We're losing light fast so he picks a spot to set up his huge polaroid camera and I pose for him in a beautiful lace dress. The process is preciously slow and feels like I’m being painted into a classic renaissance portrait. I stand still, my blue-green mermaid hair flitting in front of the sunset and the tips of waves dancing below me are streaked orange in the light, a heavenly contrast to the black-blue of the sea.
He asks if I’d be happy to pose nude and I’m slightly reluctant, despite my recent desire to bear all for my self-portraits, but he assures me that no one will ever have to see the pictures and suddenly the idea of him having some secret nude polaroids of me sounds quite romantic.
I slide out of the dress and lay bare upon the sharp rock, paying no attention to any insecurities for this feels entirely liberating and raw. He works silently but I can sense he is inspired, and if it weren’t for the rapid loss of light I think we would shoot here for hours.
We realise we can barely see anymore and the polaroids are taking over a minute to expose, so we pack up and hurriedly climb down off our rocky planet and across the beach to the car. It’s too late for me to try to reach a campsite tonight so I crash at his apartment in the city where we talk through the night and don’t sleep until the sun comes up.
I wake early to a soft light filling the room and lay still for a while, quietly observing the space he inhabits: boxes of film and an array of cameras live neatly on shelves, polaroids and newspaper cutouts fill more than their pin board can hold, and a taxidermy parakeet perches guard above a case of developing chemicals.
I sneak out of bed to take a photograph of the scene on film, and the loud clunk of the shutter wakes him. We have coffee in the garden and I write pages and pages in my journal about yesterday, grasping at details before they fade from memory.
I should be on the road by now but I’m suddenly hesitant to leave Auckland again just as I was a week ago. Thoughts of security and belonging are present in my mind and I question whether I’m doing the right thing. I drive to my favorite street shaded by a long aisle of trees and soak up the last of this city I’ve called home for ten months, and it’s time to go.