Turn the lights off / Carry me home

Date: 3 October. Guys, it's last day of my 20s. Freaking. Out.

Location: Melbourne!

Whilst in Melbourne I'm starting at an Air BnB. This feels very odd in my hometown but is quite fun. The AirBnB itself is the cutest. It's a worker's cottage in Abbotsford and, from the front door, it's obvious who lives here.

Their framed selfie hangs above the mantelpiece, sharing space with an anime sketch of the couple, near where the Wii and Xbox and the box set of Glee have been tossed for now. The living room floor is covered with a cowhide rug, sitting under a glass coffee table that someone clearly took from mum's place when he moved out. The Union Jack-printed couch is super comfy as are the Melbourne icon pillows (one with a tram, another with the Arts Centre spire). A giant television screen dominates one wall. A giant mirror dominates another.

I continue to explore the little house and find a bedroom decorated with plenty of love, though with a sense of style that clashes with my own: a framed David Bowie poster holds prime position over a bed with the most stereotypical 'boy' sheets you can imagine (navy with thin grey stripes); a pair of Japanese figurines rest on one nightstand; a Maori dictionary and a Dalek model on the other. At least four very male fragrances adorn the dressing table.

So, when I realise I haven't packed any facial scrub to sandpaper off all my plane skin (shudder!) I figure I'll be just fine and, sure enough, there's a tub of St Ives apricot scrub in the shower, just next to the Morroccan oil shampoo and conditioner. Of course there's also a hair dryer. Of courses there's an iron with steam function. Of course the towels are fluffy Sheridan. And of course, when the jetlag threatens to jeopardise my evening plans, there's a Nespresso machine and four varieties of customised loose leaf tea.

Thank God for the gays!

***

My heart bursts with love at seeing all of my friends again. By the end of my first week in town I feel caught up on the Melbourne gossip.

Lady Lovelylocks has dumped Byron. On a night out wth with work mates she suddenly realised that she loved him, but was no longer in love with (goodness, how cliche that sounds when written down) and made the grave decision to leave him the very next day. She turns up to my 'Pomp & Splendour British 30th Birthday' dressed as Bridget Jones at the Tarts And Vicars party in just fishnets, a leotard and bunny ears. And she promptly knocks all the boys' socks off. It is, as Wolfgang so perfectly puts it, something akin to her coming out. She seems so free now. I'm in awe.

Tim & Dawn continue to be as incredibly sweet, gentle, warm and happy as ever. They give me one of the most insightful birthday gifts: membership to the National Trust. I can't wait to go to swirl in dusty ballrooms that have witnessed regency romances, hunt gardens that have played backdrop to myriad Jane Austen adaptations and stalk corridors pretending to be Anne Boleyn (before her very swift 10lb weight-loss).

The Planeteer is taking her PhD to Columbia in NYC next January. It goes without saying that that is damn impressive. Interestingly, Hemingway has recently moved to Boston to undertake his MBA at Harvard. Even from this distance I've detected a flicker of something vaguely romantic betwixt those two so we'll see what eventuates when they're enduring through that long East Coast winter so close to one another.

Ariel continues to be restless and I wouldn't be surprised if we see her in London some time next year.

Finally, Bunky has moved in with Powerjam. They have a darling flat in a period building overlooking the Yarra river. Courtesy of her parents' divorce Bunks has inherited a great deal of furniture and, in contrast to the late 20s IKEA chic to which must of us continue to cling, their flat has a distinctly adult feel to it.

Yes, there are developments at home and, certainly, I can see that my friends are growing. What strikes me hardest, however, is the gentle pace at which these developments bubble along. This accords with the city itself. It's a buzzing metropolis but the streets here are quieter, the public transport slower, the evenings quieter. It's pleasant. It's leisurely. It makes me feel a little uneasy.

At 30 years old, many of my friends are settling snugly down into the next phase of their lives. I admire that. I'm not ready for that. On the Thursday evening as I walk home from dinner with a newly engaged, puppy-owning friend I suddenly realise that I'm absolutely certain that London is the right place for me right now, something I'd hitherto only suspected. I'm in the phase of my life where I need to be pushed out of my comfort zone and this is something that I have to go out of way to do in Melbourne but that's difficult to avoid in London. Allow me to make a brief chemistry simile because I think it works well here. Consider 25 degrees Celsius against 75 degrees Celsius. Atoms in either state are moving, jostling, bumping one another and making things happen. Each bump is a trip away on the weekend, a silly drunk night out, an awkward work event where you know no one, getting lost in a new suburb, trying a new brunch spot, taking the wrong bus, a blind date, an all nighter, an adventure. Melbourne is 25 degrees, London is hotter: everything is moving faster and and the number collisions per nanosecond is far greater. Right now I believe I need the bumps.

***

(Oh, and I've also learned a few things about how I behave when left to my own devices in a home that's not mine when all my friends are at work and not around to play with me:

  • I cannot be left unsupervised around cheese.
  • I have acclimatised terribly easily to having a dishwasher in my London flat. By Thursday the pile of dishes in sink starts to grow thin layer of something organic.
  • The number of back-to-back episodes of Say Yes To The Dress that I can watch is around 7. I am not proud of that.
  • I miss my cat and keep mistaking my white sweater for her fluffy little body.)

Love

Alex

 

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