Sunday, July 02, 2006

Going "home" again


Nine years ago I came to Melbourne for my first foray abroad. For three months Melbourne was my home; I lived and worked here and despite the foolishness of youth I felt like I'd gotten to know the city and in my later travels more of the country at large.

In looking back now I realize that I'd gained only a small tidbit of insight into this town. Thankfully age and more travel experience has taught me that that's ok. Our visit this time has enabled me to gain a little additional knowledge of the city and what it has to offer. Sure it's just a little but it's knowledge that is built upon and continues to transform my impressions of this wonderful city.

So much of the city is the same from my previous visit; the shadow of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) looming large, the various bustling stalls at the Queen Victoria Market, the clocks informing passengers of the trains leaving Flinders Street station and the night lights and night life along the Yarra River. With continuity comes change though: Federation Square and its funky architecture both stand out and somehow fit into the downtown landscape while the new Docklands development stands alone, desperately wanting to be included in the vibrant energy of the city but just not quite knowing how.

In the end though the city just continued to feel like home. I wish I could tell folks about the museums and art exhibits that make Melbourne the cultural capital of Australia. Instead all I can point to is the warm spot in my gut whenever I'm walking the Melbourne streets or even just thinking about my favorite city in the world. It doesn't have the tourist selling points like a Sydney or Paris. Instead its calling card is in its livability. Fantastic public transportation; high levels of culture and sport and a multicultural population that allows the city to continue to grow with the times. It's a metropolis that doesn't take itself too seriously and is widely regarded as the cultural and sporting capital of Australia.

All of this makes for a great quotes in a tourism brochure I'm sure. What really truly makes it my second home is the people; my "extended" family so to speak. Having the opportunity to reconnect with the Greens (Michael & Rita as well as Sarah, Catherine and the always entertaining Father Mikey) whom I lived with for my time in Melbourne and with my old boss Phil and his wife Margaret has made me again appreciate how lucky I am to have such friends halfway around the globe. It's also given me the opportunity to introduce them to Becca and show I suppose that I'm no longer the raw, inexperienced 22-year-old they got to know nine years ago. It was a great visit albeit too short. It's very tough to fit nine years worth of catching up into a week. Hopefully the time between visits won't be so long the next time around.

I always wondered whether I could go back "home" again. In some ways this was one of my most anticipated visits of the trip. I was both excited and anxious at the same time. Would the city hold up to my previous memories? Would Becca enjoy it given how endlessly I'd talked about it over the past 5 years? And most importantly, would having the chance to reconnect with everyone go well?

Thankfully after a week in my favorite metropolis in the world the answer is yes, you can go home again.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

What an entry! I fell in love with Melbourne and I've never even been there. You have a true gift Brian, and I'm sure that the city of Melbourne would be proud of your portrayal.