Monday, February 22, 2010

Outside the Window

Journal extract
4 February 2005

In Melbourne with nothing to read.

Outside the icons of Melbourne ting! their little bells. Overhead planes are on the business of coming and going. Ting! Daughter Hope snores on. Her phone vibrates.with messages.

After a week in the Fryers Forest community with compost toilets, and minimal water supply I have had my first shower and brushed my hair. It was showing the beginnings of a giant dread lock. I am clean. ting!

There has been a huge storm in Melbourne, the Yarra flooded, a boy swept away, a tree fell on a car and squashed a man, branches fell, electricity failed, ting! banks broke, back yards sank, front rooms filled with water, leaves flailed from branches, ting! trams water bound, cars piling up.

It is chaos, a friend of Stewart’s phoned.
Why would you want to come?
Stay away!
But my brother believes the news makes it sound worse than it is. Ting! Cath wanted us to cancel
Don’t go today. she said. But I wanted to go and now alone in this white modern city accommodation I wonder why I decided to leave their comfy house so early.

We miss the babe and the vibrant boys. We are sad and have to eat ice cream to seduce our loneliness ting! I text them and they respond. “Hazel has been miserable all day and the boys went to bed crying.”

Outside the window is a grey brick wall and flocks of European birds. Starling, lark, dove and sparrow. No more the plover, rosellas, galahs, crows wrens of Stewarts hippy house in the forest. When Hope and I see the feral sparrows we remember the cute Mongol sparrow flocks digging in the snow fluffed and plumped out against the cold. It was only then, seeing the sparrow in its own environment we understood love for the tiny bird and how they were missed by the first colonists.

We are surrounded by apartments but we see no one I watch a window where dishes are stacked. They did not move all day yesterday but this morning different dishes have taken their place and the door onto a balcony is open. I saw the pink outline of a body through the opaque glass. But other than that no sound no sight of human habitation. In Mongolia ting! you only had to look out your window to see the lives of hundreds of people and you could always hear someone shouting, crying, laughing, fighting, working, all night long. From my Ulaan Bataar apartment I could see into dozens of other apartments, people playing cards, cooking, cutting up meat, drinking vodka and tea, watching television. From six stories up I could see them walking below outside warming themselves in the winter sunlight, talking in groups, staggering home drunk. But here in Australia nothing. Roads and homes appear empty. The footpaths are deserted. No one shouts to children playing or greets their neighbours, the milk man does not call “Soo Araa” and no one goes outside with their jugs to be filled for breakfast.

The trams have stopped ting tinging and a crumpet pops in the the toaster. My daughter’s phone clicks and beeps as she messages her friends.
It is nine o’clock.

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