I spent part of last week’s trip to Melbourne roaming the city streets alone. I was not lonely; I enjoyed the solitude. I felt, as I walked, solid, curious and aware.
Melbourne was practice for next year’s trip to Europe. Dare I walk the streets of Paris alone? Dare I broach Rome? Time will tell.
The anxiety I have lately suffered dissolved, for a time, in Melbourne. I was obliged by my lack of acquaintance with the city to draw on my strength and renew my frayed resilience. People say that will happen when you step outside your comfort zone, but I wasn’t really that far out of it. I was where the populace spoke my language; the traffic codes, the food, the images were all culturally familiar.
Did I feel strong because I had only myself to depend on, because I had no one else to consider, because the only needs I had to meet were my own?
When my companion joined me I saw Melbourne from another person’s perspective. I walked now familiar streets overlaid with stories of his past. I listened and I enjoyed, but there were moments when I regretted my lost solitude.
Strength is found when you walk, look, listen and when you share.
November has come and gone and not much of it was spent blogging; that’s what happens while working on a novel. I relished my first NaNoWriMo; I hit 50,000 words on the 28th, validated my novel and yesterday set out for Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city and an eighty minute flight east of Adelaide, for my reward.
The plan was to fly to Melbourne and explore the city while my partner attended a conference but because he was offered last minute work I had to fly in on my own. I woke at dawn yesterday and arrived in Melbourne before nine: the entire day was mine to enjoy.
I first visited Melbourne in the 1970s but on that occasion, and every visit since, had no time to look around. This time I have (or had) four days. Situated on the banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne is sometimes the butt of jokes about its capricious weather. As Raili over at Soul Gifts has recorded in a recent blog, the weather was indeed the cause of much distress recently. Despite this, I love Melbourne. So after checking in to the hotel and wandering over to Federation Square
I headed to the National Gallery of Victoria.
Five hours later I was replete. The first exhibition I saw was David Hockney’s ‘Current’. Hockney, at seventy nine, has embraced hand held devices as an artistic medium. His images are reproduced on numerous iPhones and iPads throughout the exhibition, but also as larger images, such as the one below:
Hockney’s exhibition included eighty two portraits and one still life; all in all I believe the exhibition featured 1200 different images.
After a break I saw Transformations: The Art of Fashion According to Victor and Rolf, a fascinating pair who merge fashion, art, rebellion and technical skill, making as they go, perceptive and critical statements about modern life and the fashion industry.
The final exhibition I visited was Italian Jewels Bulgari Style, which was also quite exquisite but somehow a little gaudy and avaristic after the first two exhibitions.
In the evening I saw ‘Burning Doors‘, the most compelling and profound piece of theatre I have ever seen. But more on that in my next post, once I have managed to think it all through a little more.
After a drink with friends to talk over what we had witnessed, I went back to the hotel where, just before midnight my partner joined me. When his conference is finished we plan to share more Melbourne adventures together.
I’ve written this blog in the State Library of Victoria, which has been a somewhat frustrating process. (I miss my computer, obviously my skills with an iPad are not commensurate with David Hockney’s). It’s time to take a break and visit the reading room, maybe take a few photographs and then venture back to Federation Square where there is food and entertainment on offer.
Melbourne, you have more than delivered, I am grateful you are my reward.