If I knew how much I’d miss you, I’d never have left you.
Geographically, we’re incompatible — you’re located on the complete other side of the world, we’re separated by miles, the equator, and a fear of flying.
In other ways, though, we’re a perfect match.
Your European undertones welcomed me with open arms, and I immediately felt at home, but you still surprised me with your mysterious air — a city with so many layers to uncover, the neighbourhoods, the suburbs, and everywhere in between. The graffiti’d laneways that I’d find myself lost in, the fresh smell of coffee lingering from the plethora of cafés, the fashion that changed as I wandered from one part of the city to another.
People complained about your temperamental weather. Sure, four seasons in a day caused confusion with my choice of attire, but even with the lack of an umbrella and a constant need to lag around a coat when the sun decided to come out after a rainy morning, I still appreciated the much more frequent appearance of the sun compared to where I’m from. The rain was also unusually comforting, If i were ever to feel homesick, the gloomy weather on winter mornings often reminded me of back home.
Melbourne, the people of your city were nothing short of wonderful, welcoming and as energetic as you are as a city yourself. I’ve crossed paths with a diverse range of people, full of culture and creativity, shared interests and a magical aura of charisma that was contagious. They made me come out of a shell I was so enclosed in, and I bounced off their carefree yet grounded personalities. I found myself surrounded by people I’d want to have connections with for life, on either of our respective parts of the world, and managed to build bonds that no amount of distance or time difference can break.
While in your city, I expanded my horizons in terms of friends, food and fashion. Often, they were combined and I became accustomed to the Melbourne way of life without realising. From the hidden brunch spots to the pop up stores and a buzzing social scene, you’re a city that is never running out of ideas, a proud owner of the title as the Most Livable City in The World.
The surrounding regions in your state, Victoria, provided perfect escapes from the busy city life. Out-of-town festivals with Australia’s thriving music culture allowed me to discover homegrown artists that I’d never even heard of. A visit to the country towns where my friends grew up were featured a potent combination: laughter, bike rides and wine. Road trips with my boyfriend where we captured our adventures on a disposable camera and got struck by a storm on a mountain walk, only to run back down to the car, soaking wet, eating peanut-butter sandwiches for lunch and listening to Triple J.
I lived in the heart of the city, so it felt like it never went to sleep. I miss the way there was always something happening whatever time of day. I miss the buskers, the breakdancers, the hustle and bustle. I miss the walk up Flinders Lane to my apartment, passing by as Melbournians sat and people-watched at the trendiest dining spots. I miss the surrounding, leafy, suburbs with the beautiful houses and serene streets. I miss how Chapel Street seemed like two streets in one, with the first part of it filled with upmarket clothes boutiques, and the other end an arty, alternative hub filled with bars, restaurants, and black clothes and beards. I miss running around the Tan as the sun began to set and watching people have a barbecue on the river. I miss watching the excited football fans emerge from the stadium and fill the city with their energy. I miss the dinner parties with my friends, the impromptu walks on St. Kilda beach with my roommate as we talked about our day, and the wanderings around the beautiful University campus.
My best days were spent with you, Melbourne. From the balmy nights walking by Brighton beach, to the endless markets where I began a love affair with food, the packed tram rides where I leaned against the open window watching the busy city go by, and even mundane days spent at University…every moment counted and has contributed to my mental memory box of Melbourne.
Melbourne: although my teenage self did not see it at the time, when we met, you stole my heart. What followed was three years of remarkable memories that I still carry with me on the other side of the hemisphere, an experience that will be part of who I am always, endlessly, forever.