16 Mar 2016

Choices I have made

1:02 pm on 16 March 2016

We've all faced tough decisions. Ladi6, Dominic Hoey, David Farrier and Courtney Sina Meredith share some of theirs.


Ladi6. Photo: Hannah Herchenbach

This feature is part of our two-week series on choices. Click here for more.  

'Finally I went too the loo, peed on the stick, and we waited' 
Karoline Tamati (aka Ladi6) 

I was living with my little sister and my boyfriend. All three of us were sleeping on the floor of my friend's bedroom in a flat she shared with several others. I was homeless, jobless, broke and a bit broken, but madly and deeply in love.

I remember buying the pregnancy kit. Then me, my friend and my sister (I'm not sure where the boyfriend was at this point) were in the lounge, huddled on the floor and reading the directions as we tried to figure out how to use the damn thing. Finally I went too the loo, peed on the stick, and we waited.

Seven months earlier I had turned 22. Two months after that I had packed up all my belongings and moved from Christchurch to Auckland to live the musician dream. Now I was looking down the barrel of a nine-month pregnancy and a baby, in a city I didn’t know, with no close family or friends around.

None of that mattered in the end. When I tearfully got the positive result, I cried because I knew what I had to do. You see, four years earlier I had faced the exact same predicament and had the exact same result. Back then I knew I was too young, so I made the choice not to keep my baby  but I also knew I would never do that again.

So my hardest decision was a double edge sword, made up of a deeply difficult decision four years prior and the equally serious one I was facing now. Twelve years and almost one month later, my entire life is moulded around that choice. And I wouldn't change a moment of any of it, for anything.

'I was numb to words like "internal bleeding" and "fatal heart attack"' 
- Dominic Hoey (aka Tourettes)

My old rheumatologist had described the new drug as a "miracle in a syringe". He talked like a pilot, slow and authoritative, lulling me into a false sense of well being. But that was over a year ago, when I was first diagnosed with an auto immune disease. 

Now I was sitting in a different clinic with a different rheumatologist, whose voice was high-pitched and uneven. In front of me was a piece of paper, a waiver absolving the hospital of any blame for the potential side effects of the miracle drug. I was conflicted. If I took the drug I could be facing serious health issues in the long term, but if I didn't I could end up in a wheelchair. And today was the day I had to roll the dice.

The rheumatologist's patience was wearing thin. "You know the drugs you're on have side effects," he said. Of course I knew this. I had done hours of online research, reading medical websites and health forums until I was numb to words like "internal bleeding" and "fatal heart attack".

It wasn't even like the side effects of the miracle drug were that much worse than the drugs I was on. But the whole thing seemed rushed; surely this was the kind of decision you should be given counseling on before you made it   or at least a valium.

Eventually I picked up the pen and scrawled my signature on the waiver. I wish I could say I made peace with the situation, or that the rheumatologist explained it to me in a way that eased my concern. But in the end it was the thought of my friend out in the waiting room that made my mind up for me. I'd told him I would only be a few minutes, and didn't fancy walking home.

'I had a few days to decide if I wanted to give up the high life of security' 
- David Farrier

I have had some tough choices in my life and I have made some incredibly stupid ones that I wish I could invent time travel for so I could fix them. But I’m stuck on this timeline for now, so here I am.

One of the choices I am incredibly happy about is a career one, I suppose. It was during my 2nd year at university and I had this holiday job at Auckland Airport doing security. A bunch of staff had gone on strike, if I recall, so it was this short term job that paid really, really well. A few days training and boom, we were matched with super experienced people to help them out. It was great except for having to wear those terrible teal pants. 

Anyway, the money was great, and I needed money. Then my bestie at the time got me an interview for a job at TV3 doing autocue. It paid terribly, but was a foot in the door. I went along to an interview, then I had a few days to decide if I wanted to give up the high life of security, to go and get paid peanuts to twirl a knob at a TV station. I chose the airport. I chose the cash! 

Then, two days later, in a mad panic, I rang my friend. "I will do the autocue job! I need to get in that door!" Best decision of my life. Sure, I'm poor as hell, but I like this line of work. Asking weird questions for a job is bloody great.

'In London, all of my fears were waiting for me' 
- Courtney Sina Meredith

I was in my mid twenties sitting in a bar in Ponsonby, drinking the house red, when my then-partner told me they wanted to move to Spain, or anywhere that wasn’t here. We discussed Morocco and Paris and New York, as though we were merchant bankers with deep pockets. We wanted to wake up somewhere red and gold; a place of sun and spice and riches. I was going through another restructure at work and I had a feeling I wouldn’t survive the cull. And though I have working class roots, I’d grown up around the middle-class notion of ‘finding yourself’ (somewhere exotic, of course). I decided that perhaps I, too, could be found in the south of France, or the bustle of Rome.

For practical reasons we chose London – about as blue and grey as they come. I was right about redundancy, and in the three months that followed I sold most of my belongings on Trade Me. In London, all of my fears were waiting for me. A long list of ‘worst case scenarios’ ensued. My relationship crumbled; I went to the dark side and worked a corporate job; I moved in with a sociopath who threatened my life; I had 29 job interviews and cried after most of them; and a car full of strangers with a gun tried to rob me.

All of the gloss with which I’d spent years lathering myself, the lacquer that comes from the privilege of a good education and reward for hard work, fell away.

But then beautiful people entered my life in the darkest of moments; giving me shelter, food and friendship. The city showered me with small acts of kindness: free bus rides, cocktails and coffee; wisdom from African mamas; the glorious surprise of daffodils in Hyde Park.

The hard choice was coming home and giving up on my ex. The night before I left, we had tapas at a Spanish bar and pretended to enjoy ourselves. I knew putting thousands of miles between us was the 'right' thing to do, but I felt I'd failed in love and life.

It's been almost two years since I came home – I've spent a decent chunk of that time writing a new book of short stories, Tail of the Taniwha, which is out in August. I've healed during the writing process and forgiven myself for following my heart down a most lustrous rabbit hole. I'm happier than I've ever been.