Wednesday, May 15, 2013

an attempt at nostalgia

As autumn intensifies into winter, I too am about to make a transition of the seasonal kind, leaving the chill of winter for the gentle approach of the European summer. Farewelling Melbourne for a while to enjoy the discovery of Berlin.

As I make my transition, I wonder about how one says goodbye to a place. My experience of my surroundings and awareness of those things that make my daily routine a pleasure here have intensified. I roam my neighbourhood streets, now carpeted with desiccated gold and red leaves, and attempt to imagine them without me, continuing, as they will, regardless of my presence. I stand still and try to commit the feeling of Melbourne to physical memory, as if I can line my veins with the essence of this city. But the experience of not being somewhere is difficult to preempt; my attempt is a theoretical take on a visceral notion that is troublesome to replicate. 

And so, my attempts at creating nostalgia in my final days have come closer to treasuring moments of the everyday, or those that are somehow iconic of my years in Melbourne. Sometimes these are obvious, sometimes they are glamorous, sometimes they are as prosaic as breakfast. Speaking of which, unsurprisingly, given Melbourne’s culture and my own predilections, many of these revolve around food and drink.

Here are a few ways in which I have so far tried to say goodbye to Melbourne:

* An exhibition at the NGV International
* A dumpling feast in Melbourne’s Chinatown
* Lychee martinis at Double Happiness, a drinking den on one of Melbourne’s lovely laneways
* Scrambled eggs with avocado salad at an old favourite café in Fitzroy
* Swimming laps at the local pool
* Buying sourdough grain loaf from my local baker
* Attending a jazz gig played by a friend
* Riding my bike through the leafy streets after dark/on a sunny day/in the rain/when racing to make an appointment/home drunk from a friend’s place (but not too drunk, of course)
* A picnic with friends in the Carlton Gardens, in the shadow of the Royal Exhibition Building (and staying till after dark)
* Coffee, coffee, coffee in as many cafes as possible
* Making a mental catalogue of street stencils