I felt the bed shake as Him suddenly jerked upright beside me.

“The window!”

Fully awake now, I watched as he flung off the covers and walked briskly to our hostel room’s window. And then I too remembered and  grew alarmed. I joined him at the window and peered down to the single story below.

It was 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day. We were in Auckland.

Although Him and I managed to squeeze in a little sight-seeing, we were in town for the primary reason of attending the wedding of my second cousin, James from England, and Giselle, a lovely Kiwi girl. They would be married in five days time on Waiheke Island but had invited us to join them for New Year’s Eve on the swanky Viaduct Harbour.

I will begin this family-centered portion of the narrative by reminding readers that I had thus been traveling for a month and a half with a wardrobe that, at home, would last me about three days. There had admittedly been plenty of back-to-back blouse wearing, underwear hand washing and dirty sock mitigation. As a whole, my clothes were sweaty, frayed and wrinkled. My footwear consisted of flip flop shower shoes and a pair of hiking boots that smelled like Cheese Whiz. My hairbrush was missing, and two magenta-colored athletic shirts and a neglected tube of mascara were the only items I possessed with any modicum of femininity. I had devolved into Androgynous Backpacking Slob mode, and, if I wasn’t careful, Dreadlocked Hippie mode was next. What would I wear to this New Year’s Eve party, attended by family members I haven’t seen in years? What could I possibly wear to a formal wedding?

If you’re operating on any kind of budget, the Ponsonby shopping district is not the ideal place for last-minute dress hunting. Most of the stores carry designer — or at least boutique-chic — threads priced at amounts normal people allocate for airline tickets. It is, however, a pleasant area for a stroll, and there are plenty of restaurants to tempt you away from CBD cuisine. I miraculously stumbled into a consignment store and purchased two overpriced frocks.

In the end, I believe Him and I passed the “Smart Casual” test — but just barely. We met my British family for cocktails at the Mercure Hotel and then walked in a processional to the waterfront and Snap Dragon, where we shared some tasty tapas including slices of pizza with shallots. In addition to graciously paying for excellent dinner, James’ parents supplied the group with wine and champagne throughout the night. By the time the wedding party (and the two of us) headed to the crowded rooftop to boogie, I was growing tipsy. Twice, Him left me with the group to retrieve drinks (and brave some surprisingly forward attention from a few friendly females sniffing for free cocktails). While he deflected gropes, I chatted with whoever happened to be seated next to me, including an Irishman who seemed pleased when I compared him to Jeremy Renner and a pair of Maori brothers whose only knowledge of Florida was an Orlando bodybuilding competition one of them competed in long ago. It was about this time that I realized my right foot was bleeding and likely had been so for some time. I can’t say for sure, but I venture to guess the likely culprit as glass shards thoughtfully placed on the floor by over-exuberant partygoers disposing of beer mugs.

Him eventually managed to wade through the crowd and liberate my new friends by collecting me and acting as a crutch as I hobbled toward the exit. Other than the churning of my stomach, I don’t remember much of the taxi ride back to Ponsonby.

Once in our hostel room, I sat on the floor so Him could clean my foot and then decided to stay there to appreciate the carpet’s proximity to the window.

Him was in the process of leaving a voicemail for my sister when he realized the top half of my body was no longer in the room.

To my sister: “Happy New — ”

To me: “What are you doing?! Get back in here!”

To my sister: “Your sister is hanging out the window.  I better go pull her back in.”

Based on my limited experience, a second-story window rates pretty high on the list of potential puking spots. It’s relatively easy to keep yourself clean while utterly defiling the ground below. The breeze, if you’re lucky enough to have one, is an added bonus.

Thus emptied, I collapsed on the pile of hand-washed underwear beneath the window. I slept there for a few hours before migrating to Him’s side in the bed. Which brings me back to the beginning of my story: It was 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Yep, there was an obvious trail of purple shallots leading from the bottom of our window, down the white-washed boards of the neat Victorian building, streaking the window below before splattering the highly trafficked sidewalk. I was horrified.

I sprang into action, racing down the hall, down the staircase and into the kitchen where I hastily seized a sponge, a pot of water and a vegetable scrubber.

You’ll be relieved to learn the vegetable scrubber wasn’t necessary and that I tossed the sponge after cleaning the building. And I was lucky on two accounts. The first: The rest of the hostel seemed to be sleeping off New Year celebrations, so there were no witnesses to this spectacle. The second: Our room happened to be one of the very few without a dorm room located directly below it. Without air-conditioning, most guests slept in beds by the windows — with the panes wide open.