It’s been too long, my friends.

Life update

Harley Bell


raglan roast coffee on Titahi bay beach

I am writing this in an oceanside café. The sun rises on the other side of the street. Hot water steams in a jug. The barista is busy serving takeaway customers. My bus will leave soon but I am ensconced by the cozy, corner table. There is so much to tell you. I will try to be quick.

The barista has one hand on the machine and half an eye on the door. He shifts into a familial tone, he knows this customer. Here I am, the observer, a listener. A coffee sipper with too many scraps of paper.

Some of my thoughts are blue ink. Others are red, black, dog eared and soggy from sitting at the bottom of my bag.

The barista, I heard, is moving houses. He talks to a gumboot customer. An offer is laid upon the counter. A six pack of beer for an hour of time. This man, I presume, has a horse trailer and a sincere desire to help.

I have neither. The coffee flowers in my mind. I become irradiated by the kindness of humans. It is too much. I take my thoughts with me and extract great pleasure from etching them onto the grapevine. It does not pay to gossip, maybe this is why I am broke. I scribble this onto another scrap of paper and underline the sentence: is it possible to change feel-good-guilty behaviors?

I am writing this on a plywood desk. There is a paper-thin wall between me and the outside world. I’ve been in the city for three weeks. I leave tomorrow. This place is known as the city of wind. In my youth, it was the creative capital of the country. It is just the capital now.

The sun bends through the afternoon windows. It crisscrosses across my body and reflects on the white walls. The paint is thin and transparent. A single coat covering years of history. Stories can become so familiar that we stop seeing them. But what I am witnessing now?

White paint peels on the banisters. Wood that once grew proud and wild, now shines in the light. Above me, a narrow staircase speaks to an attic. I have not been up there. Now, my plywood desk demands attention. Some words linger longer than others. Blue ink on white paper: keep exploring.

This city feels like it is in a creative resurgence. But it never died. It was me that flickered in the wind. All I needed was to learn and relearn how to see the light.

Let’s talk again soon,



Harley Bell

I write about writing, creativity and business. I'm currently working on a poetry book, titled Wild Altar.