Observations, music, thoughts, notes, written down
under over the course of 12 days in November & December 2016 while meandering through Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Jetlag, maybe, and something about cloves
When abroad, my general rule is: everything that’s within a distance I can walk, I will walk. So I walk to the place I want to work from today.
I love the sound that the pedestrian traffic lights here make when they switch to green; it sounds like it was directly adopted from BB-8’s sound register.
I keep bumping into people because I walk on the wrong side of the road. I walk past a road called Club Lane; it looks like less of a party than the name suggests. I google signs of jetlag because I’m not sure if I have it. Friend C. says: “If you had it, you would know.” I have very bad tooth ache.
There’s someone on a delivery bike with super adorable neon green/yellow hair. The trees are so green here. Coming from grey, dark European winter, this is just so beautiful.
I’m torn between freaking out about the tooth situation, and telling myself that it will be fine. I decide to act like any reasonable grown-up would do and suppress the topic.
I walk past a playground with three giant nested dolls lined up. I want to take photos of them, but they’re too far away. First, I’m too afraid to cross the road. Then I do it anyway:
They do have great trees here. It starts raining. There’s the answer to my earlier question whether to take an umbrella with me (of course I didn’t bring one). We go to the most pretentious place I’ll probably ever go to — a pastry store.
And suddenly, the yawning sets in. It’s the kind of yawning that comes from very deep within, and that comes with a tiredness that crawls up your spine. I go outside and stand in the sun for a few minutes. They say that exposure to sunlight is supposed to help. But I’m afraid of getting sunburnt.
One of the things I always find strangest abroad are locks. Just the basics of how locks work are often so different from anything I’m used to.
Do you wanna dance?
As I walk home, I wonder if the light here is special or if my glasses are dirty. Irgendwas in mir will leuchten / Something inside of me wants to shine. I think my body is still trying to figure out whether or not to punish me for this weird situation I put her into. And suddenly, a very strong smell of weed. I suddenly start tripping without apparent reason.
I have officially reached full on zombie mode. I’m trying to find a grocery store and accidentally end up in a mall. It’s rush hour, there are too many people, it takes me 5 minutes to find the exit again. I keep frantically checking all my bags for my camera, my laptop, my wallet, my keys. Every 3 minutes. Because by the time I’ve gotten to my keys, I’ve already forgotten if my camera is actually there.
I still can’t find a grocery store. What I find instead are places with the following names:
- Pop Culture Specialists
- Lüneburger – German Bakery
- Lord of the Fries
- Moo! Moo! Pho
- Naked in the Sky
- Naked for Satan
They really got something going here with naming things. (Of course I will lose some of my notes with more great names before I manage to write this post; it just means I’ll have to go back and restart my research.)
I find a grocery store. I wander through the aisles trying to find cloves (for the tooth). Suddenly, they’re playing All I want for Christmas is you (the version from Love, Actually), and if things were less sweaty, less tired, less jetlagged, less unromantic, less sad, and generally just very different, this whole scene could be decent content for Love, Actually – 2. But that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that I can’t find cloves and I’m about to just lie down between the nuts and bananas and hug the box of cornflakes I got and fall asleep.
I pay for my groceries and ask the person at the checkout if they know a shop where I can buy cloves. She tells me the name five times because I keep forgetting it. The sunset is so pretty tonight.
I hug my fake sheep fur neck pillow while I try to fall asleep.
One item I always buy when I’m abroad is cloudy apple juice. I never have it at home.
Golden days and less golden years (for sure)
At 6:30am, I wake up to a beautiful morning. The sun is shining directly into my room. I open my laptop, say hi to my coworkers who are still up, work for 2 hours, make breakfast, put on sunscreen. I talk to someone on the phone who’s 16 hours away. These are the moments when I look at this modern life and it amazes me.
I head out to the coffee place around the corner again and get my usual. I completely broke my shoes tripping in zombie mode yesterday. They’re my golden sneakers that I love very much. I get to a major crossroads and immediately know where I am and where I need to go. I love these moments. 90% of life are about being there when you’re needed.
I finish my second coffee. It’s 10:11am and I have blisters on my feet. It’s Friday and when I think about what I’ll do tonight, I remember the advice that S. gave me which was to avoid bars on Fridays because of guys like him. It’s incredibly windy. Suddenly, the smell of flowers. At 4:30pm, I walk home, and I need to buy pizza and a basecap. There’s a peeled lemon lying on the street.
I run into three women as I try to get on an elevator on the wrong side. I apologize. One of them smiles at me saying “Oh, it’s one of these days, huh?” I nod and think to myself, “one of these years.”
I’m getting ready for the weekend while most of my friends and coworkers haven’t even woken up (or gotten to bed the day before) yet. Being in the future is very strange.
At a party. I have sparkling water with lemon juice and as I walk home, I write a letter and send it via SMS.
I love cities at night. That’s the reason why I’m walking home. The light is so different, but still fantastic. It bothers me that I didn’t bring my camera tonight.
I’ve only been here for a few days, but I know where I’m going without a map; that makes me happy.
I walk past a guy who kicks a streetlight. Two of the three pairs of shoes I brought here broke during the trip.
It’s 16°C and the streets feel warm, it smells like flowers in some places, like BBQ in others, then there’s trash, bar smell and car smell. The prospect of summer is in the air. Summer’s not fully here yet, but very, very close.
I say “home” and home is now a hotel, and it was a place with a view only 36 hours ago; the concept of home, what can it be.
And I see a very bright star that’s not a star.
Nothing really means nothing
Is the saddest thing I know
So deliver me from sin
And give me rock and roll.
Daisies, Dragonflies, and a Choir, maybe
I didn’t have a good night, and when I wake up at 5:45am, I feel very detached from the people I care about the most. At 8am, I shower, and try new eyeshadow (three shades of red and rose). At least the eyeshadow is good.
I head out for breakfast and work.
I find people particularly annoying today; especially the people sitting at the table next to mine, who keep complaining about their eggs, the service staff, this hipster place. I pay and head back home, hoping for some peace and quiet.
Back home, I try to take a good selfie. I need that today. Selfies can help us make sense of the world, see ourselves in a different light, or connect with ourselves. All of that is what I need today.
12pm. During sync, my note-taking app erases all notes I’ve taken today so far, and I don’t even know why. I just want to cry. I get back to my work.
A few hours later, for a few moments, I can hear the sound of a choir singing from afar, louder than all the roadworks and street noises. Then it fades. I open the balcony door and step outside to listen. It comes back, fades again, comes back. I lean against the balcony door and listen carefully. It’s just so beautiful.
This is exactly what I needed today.
The sun comes out, I decide to go for a walk and resist the urge to only take pictures of trees (or to hug a palm tree).
The smell of daisies. Dragonflies. And then there’s this thing that I still can’t grasp that I’m even here. From the corner of my eye, I notice a weird, bright yellow statue. Turns out it’s a runner, leaning agains a tree and stretching.
I sit down on some rocks that the sunlight has warmed up, and listen.
Wake me up when this summer comes.
Nature (even the park version of it) sounds just so different here than at home.
On the ground in front of the symphony building, there are quotes about music and art. One says: The gift of art is one that lasts a lifetime. Across the street, big signs say Merry Christmas.
I look through some pictures I’ve taken over the past months. Funny thing is that, after doing photography for more than half of my life, I can tell exactly just by the way I look at things when I photographed them how I was doing at the time.
The light. For my last birthday, someone wished me Always great light. And that’s probably one of the most beautiful things someone wished me so far.
You’ll always be the brightness in my dark.
Coffee, coats; no goats
In the morning, I get my coffee at my usual place. The barista has the most beautiful, most sparkling eyes I’ve ever seen.
I sit in the same small street I always sit in. A woman leaves a building and waves at me, smiling as if she knew me. I wave back. I don’t know her, but we’re wearing the same coat.
At midday, I stand outside in the sun a bit. Someone sings Mad World, and it’s so beautiful. A barista apologises to me because she doesn’t remember my name. I’ve been to this place once. 4 days ago.
A few hours later, as I’m standing on the balcony at home, I hear one of the neighbours playing a song I started listening to again a few weeks ago.
Cause there’s nothing else to do
Every me and every you.
One of the greatest perks about traveling alone is not having to share pillows with anyone. La Trobe would make for a great rapper name. For the first time since I got here, someone asks me for directions.
The sunset is incredibly beautiful.
I was hugged by two people today, and I needed these hugs. I realise I only have 3 nights and days left and it makes me very sad. I walked 11,000 steps in heels today.
Then something went wrong for Faye Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace it came from outer space
And this is how the message ran.
It’s a bat town
I meet Doc, the dog:
At the zoo.
Major disappointment when it turns out that I won’t be able to participate in the Wombat meet & greet. On the other hand, this is just another item on my Reasons for coming back list.
“The female bird will have 4-5 male birds that bring her food.” #lifegoals
And then we leave the birds behind and I laugh when suddenly, they turn on some music, and this is the first time in 6 years that I hear I like birds, and I still haven’t forgotten about last time (and very sure never will).
Watching a Wombat sleep is likely the cutest things I’ll get to do this year.
There’s this thing about travelling that, very often, by the time I’d finally grasped where I was, I had to leave again. This is happening here as well. And it is what it is.
And then there’s this thing about knowing that you’re very likely not going to see any of the people you meet again in a very, very long time. That makes me incredibly sad. And it is what it is.
As I walk back home, it’s 30°C warm, and someone is playing Jingle Bells.
I love cities at night.
At night, bats are flying above our heads. For the first time since I got here, I can see the stars.
On the way home, I would just like to stay out here forever.
Maybe then we will see all those things
That I have truly lost along the way.
Walking in a winter wonderland
I chat to a barista about work (their work, my work) for a while. I get my coffee and go around the corner and sit on a bench and wait for the sun to dry my hair.
I still have time left, so I get up and get another coffee. As I sit at an ugly street corner somewhere in the city center, I think about what happened. This was the year of constant change. I think about how much things must have changed to make them look the way they look right now.
I write a list of my favourite moments on this trip. And then, I get ice cream.
And then this is it. This is everything.
I walk over to where my taxi is waiting. Someone is blasting the same Backstreet Boys song through the streets. This is how it all began, and this is how it ends. ‘Cause I want it that way.
There’s a love and a sense of direction
in the matter that keeps us apart
there’s a light coming out of the woodworks
from a crack in the door to my heart.
All photos are also on Flickr.