A lot has changed over the past few weeks, so I thought I’d try to explain it all with six short pieces…
We’ve been living here for less than two weeks and everything still feels giddy. There’s a small tree in our courtyard that has burst into pink blossoms in the past week as if in enthusiastic welcome. We’re right in the middle of a group of attached townhouses, and we’re slowly getting used to the sounds of our neighbours moving about their homes – the way their muted voices drift through our open windows on warm evenings.
Everything might be new, but the top stair still creaks reassuringly when we come upstairs at night, just like the last place we lived.
I’m slowly cataloguing the thousands of little noises that come along with this new place; still finding places for all my Sydney things and my Sydney memories.
Soon, when we both get new jobs and begin to forge new routines, this will stop feeling like a holiday – but I’m secretly hoping that this transitory moment lingers as long as possible.
Train announcement, Upfield line, 9.30pm, 11/3/2015
“Our next stop is Melbourne Zoo. The zookeeper’s just radioed through to let me know that a few of the lions have just escaped. They’re all out looking for them, but if you’re in the area, please take care…”
It was a practical joke intended for a group of primary school kids on a nocturnal excursion to the zoo. Someone in my carriage audibly groaned, but it amused me.
No place like (nearly) home
It’s not such a big deal, moving to Melbourne. I’m originally from Melbourne.
(Actually, that’s technically not true. I grew up in a small country town an hour out of the city. But Melbourne has always felt like home to me.)
Moving back wasn’t a snap decision, although the way everything came together so quickly makes me feel like it was. It was something we’d been talking about for years. In the last months of 2014, the decision was made – and now, here I am, a thousand kilometres south of the city in which I spent the past eleven years, feeling a little like what Dorothy must have felt when she landed in Oz.
At least Dorothy got to take her house with her.
We sold a lot of our furniture to make the move cheaper. Including my giant bookshelf. Now all my books are piled up against the walls again, the way they were when I started this blog. It feels like things have come full circle.
My struggle (with nostalgia)
We spent a week and a bit in my hometown, staying with my parents while we were looking for somewhere to live. I packed a ridiculous number of books for the time we spent away, but I only ended up reading one – A Death in the Family, the first book in Knausgaard’s My Struggle series.
I’ve been thinking about nostalgia (in literature, but also in myself) a lot lately. Knausgaard’s relentlessly introspective look at his childhood and impossibly awkward teenage years brought back floods of memories of my own.
There’s really no better place to read Knausgaard than in the home in which you grew up. The combination of words and place set my memory whirring.
To tell the truth, I’m a little bit in love. If I didn’t have an embarrassingly large pile of books on my desk waiting to be reviewed, I’d have already started the next book in the series. Maybe soon.
While staying with my parents, my Dad asked me about hashtags, so I tried to explain and ended up handing over my phone and showing him Twitter.
“But what’s Twitter actually for?” he asked me.
“Well, you send out a message using fewer than 140 characters and people who follow you on Twitter can read it and respond” I responded.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Um – because you want to tell people about something you’ve done, or a thought you’ve had – or talk about a book you’ve enjoyed. Other people follow your tweets and see all the things you talk about”
“How many people follow your tweets?”
I told him.
Things I’m sad to leave behind (or: yes, even more nostalgia)
The Blue Mountains in the distance through my study window
Flowering Jacaranda trees (or perhaps specifically the one outside my former workplace?)
Reading on the train to work
Dressing up to go to the Opera House
Our favourite Chinese restaurant
Going to Gleebooks after a long day at work
Wednesday night expeditions to the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Glen, my Big Issue guy
A burger with the lot from the milk bar near my work for lunch on Fridays
My glasses fogging up instantly as I walked down the stairs into Town Hall station into a wall of humidity
People-watching in Newtown
Saying hello to Christina Stead every time I’d walk past her plaque at Circular Quay
The 343 through Redfern, even though it never ran on time
Getting to know my fellow commuters over the years without ever exchanging a word
Old wallpaper preserved behind clear perspex on the walls of the New South Wales Writers’ Centre
Lewisham, the home of Sydney’s friendliest cats (and people)
(Talking of people, there are far too many of you to name individually, but you know who you are)
Driving to our favourite beach for the day
Getting lost in The Rocks (and thinking of Playing Beattie Bow every single time)
Hot chocolate from Central station on the way to work in winter
The many places I never managed to find time to explore
It’s sad to be gone. It’s good to be back. Things are happening all at once. I’m unpacking boxes. I’m looking for a new job for the first time in nine years. I’m making plans. I’m writing.
I’m still working out what happens next.