These Balls

by | Mar 3, 2016 | New Zealand | 13 comments

I’m currently listening to a band of travelers (literally, a band, that travels) decide what type* of animal costumes they’re going to wear for their gig tonight.

*When I say “type,” I don’t mean “bear, pig, dog.”
I mean what specific style of clothing the animal they’ve chosen will be dressed in. Seriously.


I’m trying to act as if the conversation is normal.

In fact, it IS normal, because I’m in a place that’s meant to be weird.

My hostel is intended for jugglers – actual people who actually juggle – or would-be’s, anyway, and definitely not for the likes of me.

I am a girl who organizes her bag using carefully selected packing cubes (this is a real thing), and my quick-dry pants cost more than I’d like to admit, especially to these guys.


I work and pay bills and worry about the accrual of interest while my student loans are deferred.

I put moisturizer on my face twice a day, SPF35.


I am wholly out of place among this gaggle of kids with their dreadlocks and homemade tattoos and recreational drug use.


I haven’t even re-named myself, y’all.


As much as I’d like to fit here, I’m too something… old, stodgy, citied, schooled, raised-in-the-suburbs-whitebread-American… can’t figure out what exactly I’m too much of, but there’s definitely something.

Except this is a magical place.

It’s a place where you can do whatever suits you, or doesn’t, and be whoever you are, or aren’t, or would maybe like to be.

You can swing these things around with surprising grace…


…or nearly figure out how to juggle…


…or be taught how to walk a slackline by that guy who calls himself Rainbow…


…or tackle your neighbor to the ground without warning, monkey sounds and all.

You can make endless jokes about balls and everyone laughs, every time.


You can listen to this for hours and hours…

…and swing in a hammock with a Swedish man-boy who will fart on you without apology, but who is a total gentleman, until you don’t want him to be.

In this place, even I can do these things.


That said, I’m not fooling anyone. I will not be tattoo’d this week, or stop washing my hair, and I will only be the slightest bit reckless with the Swedish man-boy*.

*Settle down, Harry knows.
We have an arrangement.

I will not take a weird nature-name or become a fire dancer.

I yam what I yam, and that is not me. I will always be a girl who thinks about her posture and colors her greys and wears sensible shoes. I will always, always wear deodorant and meet deadlines and update my resume once a year.

Because this works for me. My life is good – the best – and I’ve made it that way by being all these ways I’ve spent this week wishing I wasn’t.

It’s nice to pretend for a bit – and I’m glad for this wacky space to do it –  but really, I’m just fine being the girl I am. Even if I’m pretty sure the Swedish man-boy would pick the girl with the excellent accent and That Hair if it came down to it.


I’ll be a-okay over here, fitting where I fit and not fitting where I don’t.

You can have these balls* and I will happily move on to the next place, where maybe they will have some clipboards I can juggle.


*See what I mean? Hilarious.

A thousand puppies will live forever if you share this post, I totally swear.

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  1. Nikki Henson

    I really like this article Kelly. I love how you’ve given another take on staying here and written something different about Jugglers Rest – and voiced how it must appear to so many travellers coming through…boho, hippy, different, perhaps a little awkward for those who feel they don’t fit with the dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings that sometimes outnumber the ‘straighter’ looking people. You have voiced that feeling well with your use of photos and comments and I know and feel what you mean! I do not have dreads, tattoos or piercings either – but as I was told today on the street by a random stranger, “I’m not surprised to see you coming out of the theatre – you’re wearing purple. I have a theatrical friend and he wears purple too!”
    I love that we can all mix together in this place called Jugglers Rest and we can peep in on the experiences of different kinds of travellers – musicians, jugglers, performers, accountants, software programmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, shop assistants, chefs, social workers, secret bloggers…. the list goes on! Jugglers Rest is an interesting and unofficial social experiment, just as life on the road can be. I have often thought that reality TV here would be WAY too interesting for actual TV viewers to watch… Big Brother? We could re-make, slightly differently(!) as Big Sister!

    Thanks so much for coming to stay with us, immersing yourself in this unusual little corner of Picton, and leaving this gem of your experience here in words and pictures. You have created a piece of writing as unique as Jugglers Rest.
    I’m so pleased that overall you left with this feeling –
    It’s a place where you can do whatever suits you, or doesn’t, and be whoever you are, or aren’t, or would maybe like to be. Magical!

    • Kelly

      Thanks Nikki! It really is a special, special place you’ve created. I wish everyone on the planet a week at Jugglers Rest. If nothing else, to see how incredibly, unhumanly tall Bruce is.

  2. HB


  3. Ben Blozan

    I know what I’m too to fit in there–judgy. Rainbow? Come on.

    • Kelly

      Oh no, Ben, you would LOVE Rainbow. You have no idea.

  4. Jenn

    All of it is awesome. It is like a good book you can’t put down! Give me more!

    • Kelly

      Working on it! Been super-crazy-busy the past couple weeks – trying to catch up…

  5. Santa (Dad)

    Good post. Kelly. Don’t know if there is anything you can do about it, but if you Google “nostrangerssayi” it comes up with the entries from last year instead of the newest ones. It took me a while to locate this one and catch up.

    • Kelly

      Oooooops – If you mean the old blog (on blogspot), I just made it private so it shouldn’t come up anymore (thanks for that). If you just mean old posts on THIS blog, not really much I can do about that, until the new posts get more views than the old ones.

      WHICH MEANS YOU SHOULD SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW. You can be a part of my street team, Dad! Go forth, sir! Spread it far and wide…

  6. Santa (Dad)

    Oh, and please get another picture to post at the bottom of your blog. Looks like you are in a burka or something is squeezing your head till it pops. Besides we can’t see enough of your beautiful face.(I’m a little biased)

    • Kelly

      It’s a hat I was knitting, Dad. The picture captures how multi-talented I am. I’m not changing it until I find its equal.

      Besides, you don’t even have a picture, so you have no room to complain about mine, juuuust sayin.

  7. Jamie ROach

    Oh so so good.


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