a day in my life | part two

Saturday, November 17, 2018


"Dear, please, be careful."

The words appear on your screen and sound all too familiar. "Yes, mom," you think, "I promise I will try my best not to get killed by a psychopath today."

You don't reply, but you understand. The responsibility to be safe is a large part of living abroad. It causes you to adopt certain survival tactics. 

Small things, like keeping your earphones off as you walk to remain vigilant, or moving briskly enough to get home as soon as possible, but slow enough so you don't appear too scared. Having the common sense of not passing though dark alleyways, staying away from quiet parks, or ignoring every drunk man that tries to capture your attention. Small things.


Regularly, you end your days with eyes fixated on the pavement, looking out for shadows, praying that no one attacks from behind. Turning your head at every small rustle, just in case someone might be following you. You know you should've taken those self-defence classes. But who has the time? This is on me, you think, I'm female and 5'3. Being a young girl seems to add more threat to your life in nighttime situations. Funny how "be safe" texts remind you of the patriarchy.


---

The air is still when you walk out, but only for a minute, before another gust of wind nearly blows you to a wall. The air is never still in Melbourne.


Around the hours you head back, you catch people with suitcases and workplace attire waiting beside you at the street lights. Eager to go home, just as you are. 

They check their watches and tiredly gaze at the passing of cars, their well-kept hair already loosened after a day's work. Pencil skirts and polished shoes. Lanyards and ID tags they haven't taken off yet. You avoid eye contact, but observe them to guess their line of work. Not much of a story can be imagined from a man in a work suit. In your mind, they're all accountants.

A SkyBus vehicle passes the street in front of you. "Airport-bound", it says. I could just leave now, you think. You imagine if you just packed a bag, bought a ticket, hopped on one of those, and just left. You look at those buses and feel mocked. Big, passing reminders that the trip back home, or the adventure you seek, is always so far, yet so close within your reach.


---

"Your street is so dark and empty at night," people have uttered, "You shouldn't walk home by yourself." 

You agree.

Located humbly between the busy, lively streets of Swanston and Lygon, Cardigan Street bears no excitement. You wouldn't call it dark, although the lights are fairly dim. The emptiness others find intimidating, however, you find peaceful for your many walks home. 

It's one of the few streets in the city where you can still walk a straight line, not having to constantly shift sideways to avoid crowds of people like a salmon swimming upstream. In contrast to a loud, bustling city you had to endure a whole day in, with cars left in park, bars only halfway full, and offices locked and left empty, Cardigan Street's lifelessness offers nothing but comfort.

Amidst contemplating about what to make for dinner, you look up at the dark sky, with grey clouds circling the moon. You love how dramatic skies can get; the clouds spiral around, with its edges outlined by the moonlight. 

It reminds you of a few things.

Like those tacky werewolf horror movies you never watch. Like that one scene in the Addams Family. Like those paintings made by deeply emotional artists in those obscure art galleries.

But then it reminds you of those camping trips in high school. They'd set up night time games in the forest where you'd have to tread footpaths, collect clues, and solve mysteries. You remember being a senior, when it was your turn to organise the games. Clutching a walkie-talkie behind a messy patch of leaves, your feet began to itch but you were exhilarated by the thrill. While waiting, you'd look upward into the starry night. You remember things you see; like when clouds would circle the moon, against a dark, deep blue sky.

It also reminds you of a view you used to witness from the comfort of your front porch. At home, alongside the sound of your family sizzling meat on the barbecue grill. Different to Melbourne, it was a warm night. There was chatter, the sound of kitchenware, the noises your family makes when they know the food's nearly ready. You leaned on the hood of the car, gazing upward into a similar sight; grey clouds circling the moon against a dark, deep blue sky.

Memories like these make you want to reply, "Okay, mom, I'll be careful," with a heart to show how much you miss her. Memories like these make you want to catch that bus. "Airport-bound", the orange letters blinked as an open invitation. Memories like these make you want to ask those "accountants", just so you can say something like, "Oh you're an accountant? My brother is too!"

But you come back to your senses, after time traveling to seventeen. 

On an empty sidewalk of Cardigan Street, 

as lifeless and dull as it always has been. 


---

Gee, this took a while. 

It might've been shorter than expected, but this marks the end of the "Day in My Life" series (you can find part one here). 

I thought about writing more at this section, explaining about why I went with this writing style, the reasons behind my references, but I decided against it. I can certainly say I've been spending most of my days feeling slightly reminiscent. I can only hope this gave you a nice read, and at best, I'll simply leave it to your interpretation. 

If anything, I hope you stay tuned for more writings to come.

Have a lovely weekend.














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