Days of Future Past
It’s a clear September night 2015. The sound of ‘Ulay Oh’, is over powered by the trees shaking in the wind, as I stare up into the night sky. Laying on a dock in Brooklyn, I’ve never felt more centred in this world. The timber is comfortable and raw on my back and the sight of a billion stars makes me feel smaller and more insignificant than ever, but yet fills me with hope and a sense of passion for life. “Jess! What are you doing down here on your own? Everyones been looking for you!”. I just smile up into his soft hazel eyes as I take his hand walking back towards the house. My sense of passion resonated and I’m not entirely sure why. The sound of voices muffled as I entered the room. I smile with my mouth closed. I want them to think I’m listening but my thoughts are somewhere else. I grab my glass of red and walk out onto the balcony to clear my head. Leaning over the side, the warmth of Aiden shields me from the cold of the breeze. “Aiden? Why don’t people connect with their surroundings? We spend a lifetime disregarding it’s beauty.” “I guess that people are so concerned with the next thing they have to do, they don’t appreciate the wonders of the world.” he responded swiftly. We know that we do it and we can recognise that and yet we neglect it and destroy it and rebuild it. Nothing is sacred in the environment and people will stop at nothing to advance and excel. But what do we destroy in the process? Traditions and culture, adventures had and lost, history and natural phenomenon.
Driving down the Pacific Highway I’m blinded by the flash of light escaping the day. As it fades three cranes come into focus. This is an imminent proclamation of the future that awaits a once quiet suburban area. Home taken to create more space for the masses. With no room left on the ground, the only place to go is up and the Australian suburban dream is slipping through our fingers faster than ever. There will come a time when you will have to search for a park to spend time outside and people will no longer have a neighbour from across the road but rather a neighbour from across the floor. I park in the back of the west side and walk across to the station. With the smell of Chef Noodle filling the frosty air, Mia from Hornsby Tailors finishes locking up and walk towards me. “Next week is our last week, so make sure you bring me those shorts!”, Mia orders. “What do you mean last week?!”, I question puzzled. “They’re knocking most of these buildings down to make way for the renovations. Everything on this side will be no less than three stories high. They are moving us into a new complex they’re building but it won’t be the same.” Mia mutters regretfully. It’s not that we don’t like change, it’s just that Hornsby has been the same for a very long time and the changes will not go unnoticed. “I’ll let you go but good luck with the move. you’re not losing me as a customer.” I reassure her. I cross the street and look out at the sunset. Its the perfect backdrop to an unusually comfortable place. There may be more than a few imperfections here but any resident will tell you, there is a secret beauty in the atmosphere of this street. Turning the corner, a shop window is lit with the words “The West Side Expansion” accompanied by a scale model of the development. If this today, what tomorrow? Will my children only know a life of high-rises and modern aesthetic? It may be clean and sleek but it holds little passion, creativity or connection to anything greater. They aren’t just knocking down a few buildings, they’re destroying the culture of a community.
I never considered what it was to rob someone of their history, not just mentally but physically. Bubblegum alley. A truly historical attraction of Sydney’s Northern suburbs. Walking through it on a sunny afternoon, the light hits the alley perfectly, illuminating its otherwise dull interior. The smell of freshly cut grass shields what could be years of horrible breath exuding from the ancient gum of these walls. This is the one place in Wahroonga which completely contradicts the superbly elegant beauty of prime real estate and heritage masterpieces. With the accompaniment of one Mr John Mayer, I wander down the alley, trying to remember where I put that piece of spearmint Extra five years ago. Nearing the end I see two gentlemen, they stand facing the wall with paint and tools. They must be tradies, stopping to admire the historical beauty of chewing gum and graffiti. As I pass them, I smile and nod. A smile short lived as I see them stripping the walls of the chewing gum and deciding on a paint choice. “What do you think?”, one gentleman asks. “I’m not really sure” I reply, trying to remain polite and mask my shock. Another change to make our community “better”, but who does it really better at the end of the day? The ego upheld by the majority of this community? They didn’t just strip chewing gum, they stripped an entire generation of memories and future ones from ever experiencing it.
The large brass gate creeks and I walk across the pebble driveway, looking up at a beautiful two storey house surrounded by magical gardens filled with flowers lit by the breaching lights of an early morning. I reach the cobblestone path. Two arms stretch out to greet me and hold me close. “Hi, sweetie. How are you?” my grandmother says. We go inside and sit in the sunroom for some tea. “Who are you texting?”, she says sarcastically as I glance at my phone smiling. “Just Aiden”, I respond. “Things were different when I was your age. It was at that moment that I realised, things will alter my world continuously. Things that I can’t control. Some I will hate and some I will love but I will accept them, because they will be the history of the future.