I was in Brisbane last Thursday for work, and hoped while I was there to re-acquaint myself with the place. On the drive in from the airport I peered out the window hoping to recognise familiar landmarks and orient myself. I lived on the river back then, in Tenerife, in an old woolstore converted into apartments. It was large with high ceilings and a small view of the river from the balcony. It was a good place to live, a 20 minute ride on the bus into town, and trendy New Farm just a suburb away.
We bypassed that on the way in as I knew we would, but even so I didn’t recognise the roads I would have taken leading to it, though we passed by a pub I remember going to.
The office is in Ann Street and once out of the car I felt as if I’d been turned around somehow. I used to work in Market St, just across from the river, and for a moment I had no idea where it was in relation to my location.
It was a busy day in which not everything went initially to plan, before finally it was fixed and there was a mad rush to squeeze everything in before I left. I had to leave by 3.45 and didn’t get to have lunch until 3, and then just for 10 minutes. I took a quick walk down towards the city centre before returning.
It was a long day. I was up a little after 5 and in a taxi just before 6. We took the beach road heading towards the city with the sun not yet risen. It’s not a time of day I’m generally about, and if I am I’m certainly not out, and so I took a sleepy interest in the world at that time.
Beach road is notorious for cyclist as all hours of the day, but I was surprised nonetheless to find big packs of them wheeling in one direction or the other. They were not cycle commuters on the way to work, but rather cyclists who had donned their lycra to go for a long ride before work. At some point they would return home, shower, dress, perhaps have some breakfast before joining the great throng of worker bees heading to the hive.
For someone who keeps more civilised hours being up to see the sun rise is always an interesting experience. You feel as if you witness the city rouse about you. It’s the start of something new, a sense never experienced when you’re up with everyone else. I peered out the window taking things in. Being on Beach Road I had a broader view of the city. In the distance I saw flashing red lights indicating a quite substantial, but still invisible structure. It intrigued me until I figured it must be the West Gate Bridge. It made sense that it would have lights on it come dark to warn off potential low flying aircraft, but I had never noticed it before.
I watched his and her joggers in their flashy outfits out running together, as doubtless they do every day. Here and there was someone walking their dog. As the sky slowly lightened we stopped by lights where the ubiquitous tradies in their shorts and high vis tops headed into their construction site. It’s the tradies hour, and no matter the weather they have their King Gee shorts on, and perhaps a lunchbox in their hand for later in the day.
The sun peeked over the horizon as we crossed the Bolte Bridge. The city looked splendid, but the light was still dusky as I reached the airport.
I boarded the 5pm Qantas flight out of Brisbane that afternoon, but we were stalled on the tarmac for 20 minutes. I was in row 4, I had extra legroom but was in the middle seat. I was weary after a testing day and just wanted to get home. As it was in the morning the plane was full of businessman. I sat and listened to my music and an audiobook and counted the minutes.
It was post 8pm when I was finally in a taxi heading home. I had seen the sun rise and returned after it was dark, and missed altogether the day in Melbourne. It felt strange. I had been there at its birth, and here I was again in its late maturity, but the bit in between, the fun bit I had missed altogether.
It was a little after 9 that I got home. It had been a long day and I was bone weary. Rigby greeted me warmly and I lay on the couch for an hour dully watching TV before deciding to make an early night of it. I was in bed by 10.30, early for me, and about to turn the light off when Donna called. I turned the light off anyway and spoke to her in the dark for 45 minutes. And that was my Thursday.