This was my weekend in Melbourne: One thing after another, one great thing after another, each inspiring thoughts and conclusions and stimulation and meditations. There's not enough time to write fully about all of them, so this is a bit summary in nature.
Friday evening, a million years ago, I had the great pleasure and fortune to accompany mrrules to a sort of regular weekly dinner party, a gathering of what you might generalize as hip young Melbournites, most in fashionable eyewear. We were in an apartment many many floors above the city, an apartment with bare white walls and entirely white furnishings except for a few black pieces. Even the tableware was modernistic and white. Huge windows overlooked the city. I got pieces of several lives, and some others got pieces of mine, and there was a lot of champagne. Twice I had the experience of an attractive lively young lady or gentleman expressing great astonishment on learning that I was a bit over twice their age, which happens to me at times and always amazes me because I don't look younger than I am so the expressed surprise, from my perspective, comes from the fact that I don't seem like the parents of the person I've been spending time with. Maybe. Maybe it's just that I was flying high with energy and pleasure that night, enjoying these folks so very much, and that seems to be what people see most prominently (as opposed to, say, my grey beard and eye wrinkles and morning stiffness).
The distressing part, though, is that there is something frustrating about the situation of meeting people you enjoy and knowing, pretty much, that you'll never see these people again. Although one of the fun young men will be in Sydney when I'm there next week and he gave me the information to contact him there about getting together. In this country people do seem to be serious when they issue such invites; it's not just the social politeness it can be in the US.
And then came Saturday, for which we have to completely change mental gears and social positioning and become a member of a Morris Dance team. I dressed in full kit in the morning and took the train out to Canterbury, where the Britannia Morris Men went busking on a sort of revived Victorian shopping street. I actually danced many of the dances with the team -- they're a bit diminished in number so my presence even seemed to help a bit. Although for the most part my dancing with the team was just for the fun of it. Their bagman invited me to do a jig at one point, following him, and that was great fun; I pushed myself a bit there. At its conclusion the team started making comments about when I would be moving to Melbourne.
kasinik and his new wife alamark flew out from Adelaide for the weekend primarily to visit me (so kasinik/Glenn could pay me back for flying to Seattle when he was there). They met up with me at the Morris gig. Eventually I'll have some pictures of my own to post, but Glenn has already made a few of his own available which I offer as evidence of me dancing Morris in Australia.
Afterwards we all went to a pub in the suburb of Auburn where they asked us to stop singing. ("Apparently this is not a place where they allow life," said one of the team members under his breath.). It was just like home. Actually, that's the astonishing freakout part of the whole thing: There I was, around the world, getting up early on a Saturday and dressing in kit and going off to dance just as if I were home. Amazing. Unbelievable.
Glenn and Sophie and I went back to my hotel so I could get out of kit, then we spent a fascinating couple of hours at the Immigration Museum in the old Customs House in Melbourne. We walked along the south bank of the Yarra, stopped for a drink, then went to the funky Brunswick Street area to check out the shops and restaurants and, eventually, to stop at a cafe. We sat at that restaurant for three delightful hours. Again, that whole adventure could inspire a longer post of its own. I'll probably consider this account a placeholder.
Sunday morning was coffee and laundry, just as if I were at home, and then my friend Brian Coogan (the other Brian C. I met at the Seattle LISA conference a few years back) came by for a walk to the Victoria Market and a nice lunch. It's the dead of winter. I didn't wear a coat.
I got back just in time to head back out again, back to the Brunswick suburb (where Morris practice was held last Thursday evening) for shapenote singing. We sang in an old stone church, very old for Melbourne, 1850 or so. There's a small group here that sings, with only a couple of people on a part, and I sang bass. But it was fine and fun and so very very normal for me. How many times and how many ways can I express my astonishment that I'm filling my time here with all the things that make up my life at home, in a way that feels regular and natural and unforced? After the singing I went back to the small Melbourne house where the couple who runs the local shapenote singing lives. We feasted on good takeaway Indian food and, of course, some nice wine. And, once again, the others at the table drank every bit as much wine as me.
I was back the hotel by 10pm, whereupon I fell into a coma until the alarm rang this morning.
And that was my weekend.