“Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking — the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in — it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”
This comment comes from my favourite, newer Woody Allen flick, “Midnight in Paris”.Insufferable, know-it-all Paul offers it as an indirect criticism of Gil, who is working on a novel about a character who owns a nostalgia shop. Gil shares in his character’s penchant for the past and as an aspiring novelist, idealizes F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway and other creative figures of the 1920’s.
As I alluded to in a previous post, life in Australia hasn’t always been easy. There have been challenges that have tested me. Where my significant other found a job immediately, I still haven’t been able to land one. He also starting playing competitive soccer, and so, when he wasn’t at work he was at training. Consequently, I have been alone a lot.
In all honestly, at first this solo time was great. We had been in each others company 24/7 since we both quit our jobs last October — I was ready for some time apart. In the first week, I tackled chores in the house we had been putting off, reworked my resume, caught up on television, went on some long walks and baked more cookies than we could should eat.
My significant other loves South Park. I mean loves it. Having seen Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s other creation, The Book of Mormon, in New York a few years ago, I was convinced he would love that too. And so, it has always been at the back of my mind that at some point I needed to take him to see it.
As luck would have it, Melbourne was covered in advertisements announcing the arrival of the play when we first moved here. I looked into purchasing tickets as a Valentine’s gift, but they were out of my budget, so I was delighted when I learned $20 tickets were going to be released for a special preview performance. I woke up bright and early the morning tickets went on sale and made my way to the Princess Theatre box office to join what I assumed would be a modest sized line.
What follows is a run down of events and my rationale for staying as each hour went by:
I used to think there was nothing better than driving down the Don Valley Parkway, following it’s twists and curves, until finally the CN Tower and city skyline came into view. My city, I would think warmly when I saw it. My home. But now that I’ve been here for a while, I have to admit — Melbourne is really beautiful. Perhaps not the part that my significant other and I reside it, but the CBD and some of the surrounding suburbs. It has a European flair with it’s sprawling parks and grand monuments. The Victorian architecture of “The Paris End” of Collins Street. I’ve spent many days with my head in the sky admiring it. As someone once told me, you have to look up to fully appreciate the design of a building. Though the Toronto skyline makes me feel home, I could get used to this.
After feeling a bit lost and unsure about how I was spending my days, I turned to my old friend Google to try and find some fun, free things to do in themost expensivemost livable city in the world. This search resulted in a trip to the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the Royal Botanic Gardens — both of which are free to enter.
The ACCA is located slightly off the beaten track and so I hadn’t heard of it before. When I arrived on a sunny February afternoon, I found the rusted steel exterior to be harsh and uninviting. I would not have thought to enter had I not first read about it online. There was one exhibition on display at the time called Sovereignty, a collection of contemporary art by First Nations peoples that explores Australia’s history of colonization and Aboriginal identity, self-determination and resistance.
One of my grips about Melbourne is the lack of sporting culture. I know, I know. Melburnians like to call their city the sporting capital of the world. (And some seem to agree with them.) Sure, there are plenty of teams and sports venues to go around. And Melbourne hosts its fair share of world class sporting events. But what I’m talking about is a city-wide pride for one team.
None of these divisions between Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory fans in soccer (albeit, a lopsided division). Or Carlton versus Essendon in Aussie Rules Football. Or Carlton versus Collingwood. Where the entire city rallies together and collectively celebrates when their team succeeds. (We the North! Go Jays Go!) That unifying celebration of sport intertwined with pride for your city. In Melbourne, sports are most likely to divide rather than unify. There’s just too many teams to go around.
I almost called this blog “Black Flats and Flat Whites”. To me it was symbolic of the journey it took to get here — moving more than 16,000 km away from family and friends in my hometown of Toronto, Canada to Melbourne, Australia with my significant other — and also my struggle to find Timmie’s style coffee in a city obsessed with their cafes (more on that later).
I spent my last few weeks in Toronto trying to shed as much of my possessions as possible. We sold most of our furniture and larger household items on Kijiji. Interesting fact: there’s a market for used mattresses online and it ain’t pretty. We hosted an “Empty the Cupboards” party and invited friends over to take whatever items they liked. We held a garage sale. The goal was to whittle our possessions down until they could fit into five suitcases. My personal goal was to limit myself to packing just five pairs of shoes.