I woke up on Australia Day in a different bed from usual, which was a plus. I had spent the night at the Cheese’s for the second week in a row. We’d had a tacos for dinner, a couple of bottles of wine, and watched a movie. I woke yesterday full of vivid dreams, including moments of casual and matter of fact eroticism.
We had a very un-Australian breakfast of poffertjes with coffee. The TV was on celebrating and previewing the days festivities. The sun was already bright, and the grass outside wet with the sprinklers that had come on at 6am.
I left a little before 10. The streets were quiet of traffic. I drove by the odd woman in lycra running by the side of the road in pursuit of their news years resolutions. On the radio they played Australian songs, some of which I’d not heard from ages. Later I’d tune in to that other mainstay of Australia Day, the Triple J Hottest 100. Memories came back to me of this over the years, of celebrations, of times away, of returning to Melbourne in the car listening to the countdown.
I stopped in Malvern to visit the shop. It seemed quiet still, but people had gathered at the corner cafe for coffee or breakfast. I did the same.
The previous Sunday I’d followed the same routine. That time I stopped at a cafe in the back streets of Malvern I’d passed again and again in my car every time thinking that looks interesting, I must check it out. I checked it out last Sunday. I parked the car in the street beside a small park. It appeared a pleasant neighbourhood, quiet and cosy, the sort of area you think you’d enjoy living.
The cafe was busy with people in well cut summer clothes. The coffee was good, the breakfast menu interesting. I soaked it in, eavesdropping on surrounding conversations and examining the artwork. I felt at peace, as if this was my milieu in some way – though not completely true; and as if this was a return to a lifestyle very familiar, but now sadly missed. That much is true.
Yesterday it was a little different. Yesterday felt more of the current routine – a coffee, a chat to the owner, and a last minute decision to have an omelette. Then afterwards, the shop.
I drove towards ‘home’ at a little after 11. The streets were livelier. I drove with the music loud and the sunroof open. I watched as people went by in their short t-shirts – it was a perfect summer’s day. I spotted a man in his shorts using a leaf-blower to clear his nature strip of debris. Somehow it struck me as entirely Australian, though of course it’s not. It summed up much about living here though, for me, the familiarity of it all, a middle class boy like me with the songs of my life ringing in my ears and the Australian sun beating down in a blue Australian sky and the images flickering by me, each of them seemingly epitomising some aspect of life here in Oz.
That’s Australia Day. We fired up the barbie, as you do. We have Pavlova for dessert, as you do. And as so many across the land on this day did. The cricket was on TV, and later the final of the Australian Open.
It’s all so small in its individual pieces, but as a whole it paints a vivid picture. Like a mosaic made of a thousand tiles that joined in one presents an image to make you stop and look. Days like this you have to remember, we really are lucky.
There was a fairy-tale element to the day yesterday. In both the women’s and men’s cricket we looked like losing on Australia Day, only to win both in the last over. In the distance as the last throes of the match played out I heard fireworks go off like crackling thunder. On another channel Wawrinka was finishing off Nadal. It was the end of a big, very Australian, day.