Wednesday, April 3

city mouse + country mouse {small town reflections}

Ok, you can take me home now. Our stint in the country town is nearly finished, and as of Easter weekend I feel almost home sick, despite having had a truly good time. I miss the spaces and places and people I love. I miss the city like I never have before.


On day one, people at my husband’s new work knew his name before he’d told them it, and by day two, they knew that he had a fluffy dog and a wife because they had seen us out walking. On the streets people stopped to talk to each other, it was as though they were all acquainted. At the gym they wanted to know why I was in the town {because I was newer than new}, and I found many people already knew about ‘the radiography intern’. Our growing circle of friends from work, music and church all knew each other, we discovered. Some of them were even relations. We heard stories about friends, and we heard town gossip. The courier knew me well from visiting an embarrassing number of times {because, I couldn’t find what I wanted at the more slender selection of shops}. Once on the beach a lady walked up to us and she knew our names – a lady we had never met. It turned out she knew all about us from various people, and told us that she liked our wedding photos – we are presuming facebook played a role?! We frequently met people while we were walking at night, along the beach, or in the supermarket.  

I couldn’t figure out whether all this question asking and life-sussing was friendliness, or nosiness. I think there is a real mixture – from beautifully genuine, to lovers of details. I felt a strange combination of pleasure at the interest which was shown by people who ordinarily wouldn’t care, and a strangling of my freedom. Sometimes I wanted to walk down the street, known by none, as I used to. I love the anonymity of a bustling city, where each person is dancing along in their own world, decidedly uncurious, or content to just passively watch those around them. I don’t mind sitting on trains in silence; I’m happy with that, although I’ll chat if someone wants to. I just wanted to leave the house, do what I needed to do, and return – and not be told the next day where I had been spotted and what I had been doing {and wearing}. I didn’t want people to know who I was before I knew who they were. Perhaps it’s a concoction of my city love, introvertism {handcrafted word}, and lingering fatigue which makes me enjoy the unnoticed, one-in-the-crowd way of life. 

And yet, this lack of anonymity has been thoroughly enriching too - for Ben who works in a place where he is a person; valued, respected. Not just another intern, one of the flock who pass through on their way to full qualification. As for me, I was fast in contact with musicians who wanted to play with me; who would give me many opportunities because I wasn’t competing with 50 other flutists. On a purely aesthetic note, I soaked up the starry nights, the calves, the kangaroos on the road, and the unpopulated stretch of sand and sea and moon. 

I know that if you were a much loved town member, and of a social disposition, knowing the people you lived around would be deeply satisfying. Someone was telling me that people can be so rude in the city; but I think it all depends on your definition of rude. Independence may come across as lack of care, and yet friendliness can feel extremely nosey. Neither is right, neither is wrong. It’s what you know, and grow to love and cherish. And I unashamedly love Melbourne city, although I gladly take away many things from this adventure and learning experience.

block arcade

But now, I want to walk down the street and see more than jeans and jumpers, and I want to go to a quirky cafe at night, drink a well brewed pot of chai, wander through Block Arcade, and see a film. I also want to buy balls and balls of wool at Lincraft or Spotlight, and photocopy my music for less than 20c a page. I want to have more than one yoga class time available so that being sick on Wednesday night doesn’t mean a two week wait, and I want to pop into the health store for Loving Earth sugar free chocolate.

I also want to see the stars, hills, and paddocks stretching for miles. So I suppose I want the best of both worlds, but if I had to pick, it would easily be the city with its variety, anonymity, creativity and excitement. 

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