So today I went into town to do a bit of shopping and meet Katy for lunch. That sounds very grand doesn’t it? Calls to (my) mind hats and gloves, heels and old-fashioned seamed stockings, and perhaps steam trains. And for some reason a nice fitted forest green coat…
Sadly nothing so splendid – I only live 30km from the city centre. But it’s an hour on the suburban train, and in general, I enjoy it reading or peacefully day dreaming. Or eavesdropping on the conversations of others which are generally infinitely amusing, but that’s a whole series of posts for another time.
I took a list of things to do and buy, as you do when you don’t go into town very often. All in all, it was quite disappointing – I planned to visit an old store to buy a vintage rhinestone brooch, but the shop had been replaced by a sushi bar. I wanted to buy a pair of red jeans (straight leg, regular fit), but all I saw in a very limited range of colours was low-rise stretchy skinny leg jeans and they are just the wrong shape for me.
After going in and out of EIGHT speciality stores and two department stores, I did not see anything other than a low-rise stretchy skinny leg. Not a straight leg. Not a mid rise let alone a waist-high. I feel that I need to open a store featuring clothes with traditional styling for women who once played some kind of sport and therefore have muscles in their arms and legs. (As opposed to toothpicks).
There was also searching for a diary and an address book. I do kind of understand why these aren’t easily available these days, but in this instance, I am looking for my 90-year-old mother who doesn’t really understand cordless let alone mobile phones. Another thing for the traditional store.
Anyway, it was lovely to catch up with Katy despite my shopping travails. I love that we can always catch up where we left off no matter how long it is since we last saw each other. Our most recent diversion is sending each other photos of us from the 1980s which is amusing because we thought we looked hip and cool, and amusing because we thought we were hip and cool! And of course, I got to sit down for a couple of hours, drink wine and eat pork belly.
But I digress (again). It’s only a little over three years since I was commuting daily, but as I was following up on Katy’s shopping suggestions I felt quite disconnected from the city. I already mentioned that some once familiar places have shut down, others have been knocked down, and others are new buildings entirely. I didn’t have the same sense of belonging and ownership and kinship. The sense of estrangement wasn’t as strong as when I visited the city I grew up in after 15 years away. But the feeling of connection was not as great as when I get a glimpse of my London home turf or even a once visited holiday destination on the television or in a movie.
While I was in my hometown, I met a guy from Portugal who has lived in another Australian capital city for about 30 years and we talked a little about that feeling. His take on the situation is that your relationship with your town is a lot like your relationship with your lover. You see each other frequently, you talk and exchange news and ideas. You nurture that relationship and it blossoms, you become closer and closer. But if you ignore each other and seek out separate interests you draw apart and lose the love. Or something like that.
And so I wonder – am I breaking up with my town? Can you even break up with your town? I can’t imagine living anywhere else…
What do you think?