Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Carpeing the Diem

Sitting at the bus stop this morning after walking Sapphire to school, I packed my novel away and just observed the world around me.

Car after car after car after car were bumper-to-bumper on Portrush Road, heading slowly into the city, all with only one passenger in each of them. It was an automatic response to start toting up the cost of petrol and parking fees, not to mention the added stress of arriving and leaving in peak hour traffic. This led on to even less original thoughts - but good ones - about getting the government to subsidise public transport and put in more bus routes all over Adelaide. Buses and stops would surely be easier and cheaper to instal than building railways? And a 'car tax' of, say, $5 for every car that drives into the city area?

On the bus, I continued my idle observations - eyes, ears and nose. The funk of warm bodies wearing woollies not seen since last winter; a gorgeous red 1952 Morris Minor putting alongside us with an added spoiler on the back; a dishevelled couple wearing shredded track suit pants talking about how they were going to handle their parole board appointment; and seeing a bloke leaning on a pallet of beer, waiting for the hotelier to open up the cellar door.

Young female students wearing their uniform of hooded sweatshirts, adorned handbags, windscreen sunnies and lipgloss trying to catch the eyes of vacant uni guys lost in their i-Pods SMS and last minute tute preparations. The bus brakes suddenly, and an old lady falls back into my lap. "Oops, sorry dear," she laughs as she gets off at the hospital. She's lighter than my eight year old and manages to keep hold of her homegrown roses.

A few stops later finds me stumbling through the fierce swing-back bus exit doors onto Grenfell Street, landing in a gutter full of vomit left over from the weekend, now nice and ripe in the autumnal sunshine. The graffiti overlooks an alleyway that is crammed with cardboard boxes, rotting vegetables and urine. The gorgeous heritage-listed brewery and stableyard is hidden amongst the 'No Geek Speak' computer company and a poncy interior design store.

After collecting the books left for me by Georgia, I buy a Feel Good Iced Coffee and decide to spend a moment in the Children's playground waiting for the bus ride back home. Unfortunately, the council workers were there cleaning it. What a shame that it's necessary to have such a professional and permanent-looking sign; obviously a very common occurrence.

Sitting on the benches facing away from the park, I notice how the shops almost look European.

Hang on, why is it necessary to have metal spikes on the second floor?

Some of the wires are bent: from previous robbery attempts or by the person who has to see them framing their view of the city every day? Casting my eyes further down my hands are itching to photograph the vast array of people walking past. Some holding coffees or cigarettes, shopping bags, briefcases, backpacks or the hands of their children.

Beer bellies, boob-shelves, high-heels, ballet flats, loafers, lace ups, blundstones. Shave heads, bad dye jobs, ironed flat, pony tails, number three clipped, Amy Winehouse imitators. Chattering, phoning, eating, reading bus timetables or the just-purchased newspaper. Absolutely fascinating, and again, I don't reach for my novel.

Back in my neighbourhood, I stroll past this Dream House containing the Mean-spirited Mechanic and look across the road, thinking of Kate and Brian, coping with the death of their nineteen year old daughter. Or Bob next door, suffering his second onset of cancer and Dave down the street, ostracised by his family for being gay.

Despite all of this, my eyes are bright and I'm smiling. I'm happy. Happy to be alive, happy to have taken my own Black Dog of depression back to the distant kennel where it belongs. Two people kissed me this morning and meant it: lover and child, and I'm finally starting to realise that maybe, just maybe, I do deserve them.


ThirdCat said...

I think the spikes on the windows are to stop the pigeons landing there.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks thirdcat. My first reaction was, 'Thank god for that' and then I thought, 'Geez, why can't they let some friggin' pigeons sit and crap where they like?'

River said...

Nice observations. I sat on a bus stop once outside the Payneham library, waiting for the bus that would bring me home. The constant whoosh of passing cars made me wish momentarily that I was deaf. I swear there was not one moment when there weren't at least 3 cars going in either direction.
On the other matter, you most certainly DO deserve them and you should never ever think otherwise.

Deep Kick Girl said...

Lovely post, Kath.

You do very much deserve all the love in your life. You're a fantastic talented woman and I'll add my name to the list of many who love you.

delamare said...

What a lovely post Kath. And it's great to have the Black Dog back in its kennel. Makes you really appreciate how great, interesting and happy normal life can be.

Naomi said...

Great post again! I too am a lover of "people watching" - there are the most amazing things to see right there in front of our eyes, it is nice to stop and smell the roses.

Oh and you most definitely deserve all those kisses and more girl!

eleanor bloom said...

Oh, we all deserve lovely things. It's just hard for us to believe it, it seems - and a lot easier for others. Which is ridiculous. Surely it should be the other way round!

Great post Kath. I love this observational stuff (except... *sniff* now I'm picturing punctured pigeons).
Oh. That's why they have to clean the playground equipment so often - the birds have nowhere else to perch!

Baino said...

Lovely slice of life Kath. I'm a people watcher too . . I'd love to just take happy snaps of passers by but feel like I'm intruding. I'm glad you're in your 'happy place'.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks :)

Hungry Hungry Hypocrite said...

Lovely stuff, I'd like to do this more but every time I try and watch people I'm usually wearing my Fedora, mirrored sunnies and London Fog gabardine trenchy ... I look like a paedophile.

Ariel said...

Great post ... I was back in Adelaide with you there, seeing it all. Love the description of the female/male uni students and their unofficial uniforms. So true. Nice closer, too.

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