Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Me in Melbourne

As I write this, I’m taking afternoon tea in a large, comfy wing chair angled toward the window and its view of the Melbourne skyline in the waning hours of the afternoon. The red and yellow stripes of old-fashioned Flinders Station stretch out in front of me along the river, blending gradually into Gothic church spires and the contemporary rock-like bulk of Federation Square. Beyond the riverfront, the silver skyline of the central business district gleams in the afternoon sun against a backdrop of a bright blue sky brushed lazily with cirrus clouds.

Last night, on the way in from the airport, Joey’s boss asked me, “What do you plan to do in Melbourne?” I offered some lame excuse, parroting the typical Singaporean response (“shopping”), but the truth is that I came to Melbourne for no definite reason. I like to breathe the bracing cool, dry air, such a contrast to the tropics. I like to wake up in the morning with the real possibility of a good hair day. I like to walk outdoors along the tree-lined river under a blue, sunny sky. I like to browse in department stores designed for Caucasian bodies and listen to buskers singing country music on the street corners. And any time I tire of wandering, I like being able to turn down the first laneway in my path, where there are guaranteed to be at least a dozen hole-in-the-wall coffee shops and cafes. There’s something in the feel of the place that stirs my nostalgia for heady September days in Boston and Cambridge. All that’s missing is a course guide and a couple of crew shells practicing out on the water.

All this, of course, is tempered by the twinge of guilt I feel because my beloved, the reason I’m here in the first place, is stuck all day in a nondescript, windowless office north of the city in bland, suburban Noble Park. And during the evenings, when business meetings in the hotel lobby last until 11 p.m. and the glow of the laptop and the clacking of the keys continue long after I finally fall asleep, I sense that my other half may not be taking full advantage of our river and skyline view. It’s a lovely sight; as I’m gazing out right now, pairs of gulls are swooping gracefully over the river while commuter trains slide languidly in and out of the station. But it seems to me that the view would be even better shared.


Anonymous said...

Lovely, Lovely, I'd love to be there with you. Nice description.

Tobey said...

Wow--thanks for bringing us all along on vacation with you! :)

airedale said...

great travelling, r=trust that you are well?

Andrew said...

You're a really good writer, Jenn.