Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I wasn't born here but

Yesterday morning it was drizzling slightly, and after calling out, 'See ya later' to Love Chunks and Sapphire I heard the tell-tale thunder-rumble of the tram further up Mt Alexander Road and knew that a quick sprint would mean that I'd make it in time to climb on.

I did just that thanks to my beautiful, fully-healed, perfectly functioning Achilles and held a rather dramatic half-lunge pose to keep the doors open because out of the corner of my eye I could see a couple running - less athletically than moi, to be sure - to make the same tram.

"Thanks," they puffed in gratitude, before fumbling for their tickets.

Both were dressed like they'd just been to Woodstock - cheese cloth, ethnic scarves, copper bangles and long ratty hair. He held a small ukelele.

A few moments later the bloke seated across from me grimaced. The hippies were singing. In rush-hour. In Melbourne. On a tram crammed with expressionless commuters determinedly hiding away from any opportunity for unwanted public contact with ear buds or iphones.

Uni dude slowly peeled off his enormous Sennheiser mega muffs and raised a pierced eyebrow. I saw this as an invitation to speak.
"No, you're not wrong; it's Hey Mr Tambourine Man."

Plunka Plunka Plunka Spoong. One of the strings was clearly on the loose side.
Plunka Plunka Plunka Spoong.
"In the jingle jangle morning I'll come following you....."

Novel-reading nurse next to me joined in. "Well good on yer for letting them on," her voice laden with sarcasm but her face with a smile. Asian Student next to Sennheiser Scone snorted and made brief eye contact before returning back to his tiny black screen.

Don't cry, Kath. Not here.

A fair number of passengers got off at the Queen Victoria market. The advertisement on the shelter was promoting ANZAC day. A snippet from Fallen, by Laurence Binyon was in large, flowery letters; lines I'd read many times before:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The tram sooned filled up again with more office workers and market shoppers with bulging jeeps and trolleys. A young guy with enormous holes in each ear and a dripping gun tattooed on his neck helped an elderly Greek lady with her cart. "Sank you," she said, patting his arm. "You kind."

Don't cry, Kath. Not here.

Little Lonsdale Street. My turn to get off and try to run across the road before the traffic changed. Also time to buy a coffee to see me through what was going to be a long day. Moving countries means a dauntingly long To Do list and
Insomnia is now the reality. Like being able to read music or dance, sleep is something that other people do; an instinct I don't seem to have and a skill I'll never possess.

"Large flat white please. Skinny, thanks mate." He nods at me. I'm familiar enough for him to recognise, but not full-time enough to be on first name terms. He returns to the hawking and spitting sounds of the shiny metal machine and I share a small table with another woman waiting for her latte.

She's reading. The Age. From Saturday so she's clearly catching up on all the weekend supplements. It's the section I write for. Sorry, wrote for. Jumpin' Jatz crackers, it's my article.

For gods' sake keep your enormously insecure ego under control and don't tell her that you wrote it.

Don't cry Kath, not here.


Kymmie said...

Oh, how I love how you write! This is beautiful.

But did you cry? xx

Marie said...

I recognise that mantra well, as well as the heightened observations of the world around you, the soaking up of the essence of Aussie everyday life, so you can bottle it up in your heart and take it out now and again when you need to. These moments are gold.

I laughed at the couple on the tram. Don't worry, we have these people in Europe as well. You won't miss out, though over here they tend to play the violin (badly) and/or sing and dance (badly). And ask for money. I sometimes think of offering to pay them to stop.

I'm keeping you in my thoughts - I can imagine you are living in a world of "To do" lists at the moment. Before you go, make sure you get your parents and good friends hooked up to Skype and make them buy a webcam, so you can see them as you talk to them over the computer. Skype has been a wonderful and free way for me to keep in touch with people far away. It can help ease the separation pangs that will hit.

As well as remembering not to cry, add "think of all that chocolate" to your mantra.

nuttynoton said...

you could also think, what an adventure to look forward to, all the places and people to experience and compare then one day...

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'day Kath,

Great post.

I guess it's sad but exciting at the same time and sounds like a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

(Must not sniffle).




The Elephant's Child said...

Perhaps I could do your crying for you? Lovely post and yes it did bring tears to my eyes. Those to do lists are daunting and teemed with insomnia ... Hugs

Kath Lockett said...

Kymmie,once the ukelele players had left and my fellow passengers put their blank-faces back on, yes I did. No-one noticed.

Marie - " the soaking up of the essence of Aussie everyday life, so you can bottle it up in your heart and take it out now and again when you need to." Yes. Perfectly put.

Plasman, are you sure your snifflign isn't due to failing (again) to answer Mrs P's classically dangerous question, 'What do you think of those women over there?'

Nutty, of course. I'm so excited and thrilled and looking forward to it all and can't believe that it's happening to *us*. I'm teary because I realise what wonderful connections and memories we've made here and am glad that I'm feeling like this instead of 'thank god we're leaving.' I've always been a sentimental, story re-telling, photo album-flicking, eye watering old sap! :)

EC, feel free to cry too (she replies, starting to cry as well but also with a big goofy grin on her face).

Chestnut Mare said...

I have this weird 'welling up' feeling in my chest & my eyes suddenly feel a bit 'hot'.....

Sentimental? Moi?

Kath Lockett said...

Oui, Chestnut Mare :) Oui.

Pandora Behr said...


one good thing -all this aint going anywhere. And I'm sure the general public in Geneva are going to be just as entertaining - if not more so.

It's goona be great (like this post)


Anji said...

What a morning! I love it when something happens to break the ice on a packed bus.

Red Nomad OZ said...

I go incommunicado for a week (Lord Howe Island) and look what happens!! How did I miss your good news??

I wish you well - and remember, I'm always good for an OZ fix ...

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Pandora - I hope so. I also fervently hope that Le Blurb from le Blurbs is still a place you want to visit :)

Me too Anji but I'm working out that often it takes someone to break that ice and I'm older and more prepared to be that person. Today I met a fellow Litter Ninja on the tram and we chatted about his upcoming trip to Hungary (where his wife is from). I could see a couple of heads lean in as he told me about how men used to throw buckets of water over women on a particular day each year as a courting strategy!

Thank you Red Nomad - that's why I follow you!

Hannah said...

You are amazing. And if you started to cry, and I was there, I'd give you such a big hug that the lack of oxygen might actually make you sleepy. Oh, in a non serial-killer way, of course.

River said...

What do you mean, Don't tell her you wrote it? you should have asked was it interesting to her and what was her opinion of it? then you could introduce yourself as the author...

P.S. take a cadbury creme egg or two and post them from Geneva to Marie? She misses them...

Helen said...

It must be hard to be leaving a place you've loved so much, and I'm sure the people will miss you too! Here's hoping the litter won't pile up too much while you're gone...

Kath Lockett said...

Hannah for that comment alone you have a bed in Geneva whenever you want one (we're determined to find a place with three bedrooms) :)

River, I just couldn't do it. I thought she'd think I was, to use a real Aussie phrase, 'Up myself.' Creme Eggs for Marie - there must be some way I can arrange a UK to Sweden transfer....

Helen I'm hoping that the litter ninjas continue to look after their little patches and may drop a hint or two in the 'welcome to our house' folder that I'm drafting up for our new tenants. Otherwise, Milly and I will wind up our duties on or around the 22nd May.

Anonymous said...

It must be heart-warming to see someone reading your article and sad to leave it all behind! M

oving countries is ok, once you are done with it. Just as any other move it usually seems much more daunting and scary before the event than it ends up being in reality.

Jayne said...

I shall post you those ukulele strummin' tram singin' hippies, just to make you feel at home :P

Baino said...

I think you might miss Melbourne. We loved it, just loved it. Sorry we didn't have time to catch up but 8 days, 2 states and 1 territory was a tough call. I love the diversity in Melbourne. Everyone in Sydney is a 'suit' with an iPod and a phobia about communicating with strangers. Don't cry, Geneva's lovely.

Cat J B said...

Wow, Kath, what news!! I'm behind the times as you can tell. Melbourne will be that much poorer and a 'lil less colourful for losing you. Geneva on the other hand, will gain a lot!

Helen Balcony said...

Oh just look at this. A skate park with flea market and FONDUE.
You lucky people.

Helen Balcony said...

Nothing to add, this w/v was just too brilliant to waste: nurkness.
No... wait. I do have something to add. The link I forgot from previous comment!!