Tuesday, November 22, 2005


This drive is second nature, you do it everyday.

Avoiding the busy main artery you take a smaller vein, cutting through the green belt of fluttering leaves and white tipped fence posts with golden numbers attached to dainty letter boxes. This is not your neighbourhood, but it might as well be - all of them are the same, familiarities without actually being acquainted. The accustomed turn of the wheel this way and that, brings you again to a busy junction. You accelerate past the dying milk bar, a suburban favourite reduced to deary handwritten cardboard signs and peeling white-come-grey exterior paint. And past the flurrying newsagent, still open. And of course the ever present Fish and Chip shop. This one, you know is good enough not to keep a secret, and so everybody knows about the fried-to-just-the-right-amount-of-crispy-outside-with-maintaining-smushy-inside perfection of the chips. Suburban Melbourne is not boring, exactly, it has just always known what it is.

You take the main artery again, homeward bound. Houses on the main road always seem like the sad, dreary cousins of their society relatives hidden somewhere behind. Cars struggle to find their way out from their crackled concrete driveways and the smog seems to build up on the brick, making colour fade before its time. You've noticed that someone has scribbled on a bus stop sign nearby with permanent marker, an incoherent message. How on earth did they get up there?

The freeway is not your favourite part of the journey, but you welcome the no-brainer anyway. The steady traffic is like a gentle river, rippling from town to town welcoming, every so often, a new stream of cars into the flow from an adjacent arm. We all keep this machine running. You travel this stream until all you can see is the expanse of blue sky above, littered, occasionally on the horizon with the familiar signs olive green leaves and the harsh bushiness of native fauna.

Eventually you slow, taking the outstretched arm offered and find yourself in your part of town. A town so like every other you have visited, and yet so full of its own character - the purple coffee shop, the row of stores that seems to change owners every year, the group over ever-present laughing children playing cricket in the park... This suburban familiarity is like the touch of a old friend and you desperately crave new ones.
But this is nice...
This is nice for now.