Rambling thoughts about a rambling country
Packet of redhead matches in everybody’s kitchen drawer.
Kitchen sink always faces the window.
Women have hair that won’t behave, despite best efforts.
Always squinting against the heat, the wind and the nagging voices in the head that..
there’s something better.
Everybody knows the words to Crowded House.
Most people have trees that they didn’t plant in their backyard.
Young married career men rarely seem happy,
their kids hang off them like needy fruit, they can’t wait to get back to work.
Wives behind sunglasses, they don’t know what to do.
Lino in kitchens.
Endless cups of tea, the mugs leave milky rings on every flat surface imaginable.
Homeless people rant and rave in public parks, then sleep during the hottest part of the day, sprawled out under Eucalyptus trees in faded and dirty sportswear.
Athletes in some bizarre race.
Uni students on public transport view this scene and shake their head, disgusted at the widening gap between the rich and poor.
Their concern, though genuine, is transient, it will only last as long as it takes the bus to move three blocks, then it’s time to change the playlist on the iPod and start planning the next overseas trip.
Apathy is worse than disgust.
Summer arrives without warning one night, and doesn’t leave until March.
Hippies in Broome, with tanned, lined faces.
Kids with ice-cream on their hands.
The sad, desperate changing of locks.
Men still hit women when the lights are on. Women still let them.
Too much homework. Cordial too strong.
Sand in hot chips.
News at 6 o’clock.
Paint peels off the ceiling in every lounge room of suburban bungalows everywhere from Brisbane to Adelaide.
Refugees, immigrants, tourists.
People from every corner of the world who are running from someone or everyone or themselves. They stay for a few years or forever. Nobody minds. Mosquitoes are an ambivalent audience for such huge and laughable dilemmas.
Sometimes I wonder if this sense of disconnectedness is born or acquired. If the country’s just too damn big, the sky is too huge and from the moment of your birth, it satisfies neither you nor itself. Forming a loving relationship with this country is hard. It’s too sandy, it burns, and how exactly do you embrace a jagged rock face? The sea is full of rips and sharks and the sunsets are so heartbreakingly beautiful that it’s impossible not to feel oddly devastated, like a post-apocalyptic survivor bathed in orange lonely light at the bottom of the world.
I feel instantly emotionally affected by the sound of bagpipes. This makes me wonder if some sounds or images can become a genetic inheritance, I certainly seem to have ‘memories’ of places I have never been, notions of what if would ‘feel’ like to stand in a place, just as I knew what the quality of light and smells of places overseas would be like before I got there. Perhaps it’s nothing quite so esoteric. Perhaps I just like bagpipes.
How do you describe this country? The nonchalance and fierce determination and how they aren’t mutually exclusive?