Letters from Melbourne 1

Photo: http://www.essentialkids.com.au

I’m commencing a new phase in my blogging: a series of posts related to each other. They’ll be called “Letters from Melbourne”, and will document my journey from a small town in Northern NSW called Murwillumbah, where the most exciting event of the year is the “Show” at the Showgrounds (consisting of small roller-coasters, bumper cars, tent food and screaming children), to metropolitan Melbourne and it’s swamp of thriving culture. I’m not resentful towards Murwillumbah for depriving me from the cultural experiences cities offer, but feel grateful to it for providing me with the ability to appreciate all of Melbourne’s shiny trinkets through the eyes of a newcomer. (For clarity, Letters from Melbourne isn’t going to be a recount of my life’s journey, but in order to contextualise it all I have to lay my past out to you like a picnic blanket. So bear with that, and then I’ll get down to praising Melbourne, you filthy Melbourne-worshipers.) Although I moved to Melbourne two months ago, I’ll start from the beginning. For some reason, the first image that pops into my mind is of the immaculately groomed gardens of the suburbs around Melbourne. From Murrumbeena to Coburg, most gardens feature rose bushes preemed to perfection, angular hedges and orb-like trees. This is foreign to me, as the gardens in Murwillumbah are generally…messy. Beautiful, but chaotic. Perhaps this says something about the comparison between country and city folk already: while people from the city depend on order and appearance, people from the country care less about presentation and neatness. In a superficial way, I have already found this to be true, simply from the obvious difference between the way people dress in the city and country. Before I began going on early morning trams to uni, I had never seen so many people in suits. Black suits everywhere, like the Matrix. But the men who suit up, comfortingly, are not out to kill me. The rose bushes come into my adventure a few weeks later. My journey really began when I moved into my Carlton apartment. It was dark, musty, relatively new but unkempt, and I paid too much rent. The location was five minutes out of the city, and advantageous to the curious wanderer, but it was a confronting shock after the Queenslander houses I grew up in. Queenslanders are houses from, you guessed it, Queensland, and are very spacious, featuring windows in every room, and (my favourite part) have enormous verandas running around one or two sides of the house. They’re weatherboard houses, no brick or cement. Cool in the summer, and well, cool in the winter – although the winters in Murwillumbah are around the temperature it is now in April in Melbourne. The veranda at my parents house overlooks a vast, green soccer field, and in the distance, the blue and purple mountains of the caldera. Uncountable glorious sunsets were seen from that veranda, fireworks from the Show every November, and of course navy, star-stained sky (alliteration: check). I was lucky in my Carlton apartment because I got the only bedroom with a window. Nevertheless, the view depressed me. The concrete facade of the opposite apartment building did not inspire me. The most difficult obstacle to overcome when I was freshly relocated, after missing my family and boyfriend, was the lack of nature. Yes, there are trees lining many streets in Melbourne, but they can’t compete with the infinite sea of rippling sugar cane fields I once knew. Drawing back on the rose garden anecdote, it makes sense that people in the city care ferociously for their small gardens because they’re not exposed to as much greenery as country folk are. We (they? Which one am I?) country folk take stunning views of mountain ranges and lakes for granted. In my transitioning period, as I’ll call my current state, while I’m suspended between the realms of Murwillumbah and Melbourne, I have the advantage of seeing both places with new eyes. So now, the old paradigm is uncovered: is it better to live a simple life in the country, with the profit of beautiful scenery, opportunities to go to the beach/river/creek and relax, sunny weather, less crime, less people, less stress, less pollution and less social, career and cultural opportunities, or is it better to live in a cramped apartment in the city, where leisurely activities are less but social, career and cultural opportunities are in abundance? This is a question I asked myself for around six months: it’s hard to determine which are the most valued aspects of your life. But I’m very, very glad I made the leap over my abyss of uncertainty (“what if” is your worst enemy when making decisions), and this conundrum will be answered, with time, in my Letters from Melbourne. So continue reading!


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