An unexpected glimpse of beauty in architectural detail, a tiny new art piece buried in a laneway corner, the giddiness of standing in a pub falling for yet another quirky, talented band; it’s the little things that catch at my heart. Things that make me stop, look up, smile - ornamented buildings, blossoms outlined against the sky, clouds rushing to cover the sun. Heck, the fact that stopping and looking and having internal monologues doesn't stop crowds here. People move around me peacefully, and I know that even though I’m boringly corporately besuited, I could be a pirate or a spaceman or in terribly deliberately clashing colours and be as free as I am now.
Then there are all the tiny villages, every high street a hub - people know their laneway, their walking distance, their nearest good coffee, their tramline, but not the next suburb over. There is adventure in cross-pollinating, jumping tramlines, savouring the transition north to east, back in to the centre, sometimes – bravely – west or south.
There are all the obvious things; coffee, food, plays, wine, sport, cocktails, and, of course, music, and people who also love these things. There are conversations overheard: a musician setting up for a gig and explaining to someone that in Melbourne you can love music and sport, and it’s ok. A six year old lecturing his father on the prospects of the team whose scarf I am wearing. Old ladies, born thousands and thousands of miles away, who see my phone and ask me when the tram is coming, because they know there’s an app for that.
There are crazy things too: the flagrant crazy of weather and traffic that provide a never-ending conversation supply, the fun crazy of too much drink and not enough sleep, the tiring crazy of too too much work. But then there’s acceptance, new homes, friendship revived, the broadest brush of remarkable new friends I could ever hope for, and the space and time to be as crazy as I want to be.
When I first arrived I would glimpse the strange skyline out of the corner of my eye and startle. Once, drowsing on a tram, I wondered where I was, mentally flicking through cities, before remembering, breathlessly relieved, that I was here.
Happy anniversary, Melbourne. It’s been a good year.