Melodies can bring back memories, and define periods of life. Presently, “Too Much Time On My Hands” (by Styx) is one of my themes. I don’t have a job (yet) and Will and I are living in a hotel. I’ve mastered the skills of cooking in a mini kitchen with only a bread knife and one pan (mincing garlic has been interesting!) I get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Other people make our bed and clean our room. My running shoes are getting a lot of attention and my training plan on Nike Fit Club has been followed religiously. I walk an hour each way to the grocery store, multiple times a week. When I’ve run out of things to do, I find things to organize.
I wander the streets of Melbourne making discoveries of creepy street art and Minnesota Vikings jerseys in hipster neighborhoods.
I enjoy the most lovely parks, like Carlton Gardens,
and head to my favorite running trails along the river at Yarra Bend Park. It is this park that introduced me to Collingwood Children’s Farm, Dight Falls, and the Blue Tongued Skink. The name of the farm would lead me to believe they farm children, kind of like the “Wine Farm” we discovered in Israel, but not so. I thought I had nearly escaped death by a poisonous reptile until Will read that the skink is a friendly garden critter that eats bugs, and they are sold as house pets.
House hunting lead me to the beach neighborhood of St Kilda. To my delight I found penguins hiding in the rocks at the end of the St Kilda Pier (see the little nose poking through) and impressive Aussie stacked boat storage.
We researched several housing options, and considered places with city views (top picture below), but opted for an apartment a bit further south in Elwood that has two balconies, is a short walk to the beach (bottom picture below), and a quick jog to the penguins on the pier. We sold almost all of our belongings before we left Minnesota, so we’ve been on the market for furniture, bedding, electronics, etc. To our surprise we also need to buy a fridge and a washer. Our apartment (like most rental properties) doesn’t come furnished with those appliances. We don’t have space for a dryer, so a clothesline on the balcony will suffice. We have one parking spot in a stacker garage, so we’ll lower another person’s car below the ground to back our car out. The bike storage room will house our bikes when they arrive in a couple weeks. We move in November 30th and are very excited!
We’re enjoying our last couple weeks of hotel living in the heart of the city. We’ve made some friends down at the pool, and have soaked in the “hot tub” that unfortunately doesn’t get much warmer than about 70 degrees Farenheit. Across the street, we get the lights of the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG). We’ve spotted wildlife in the city. There was the owl that swooped in and perched above us near the MCG,
and the possums and bats active as all get out in Fitzroy Gardens. It took us a while to realize that the sound of the leaves rustling was not wind, but bats scurrying around the branches above. The possums got so close I thought they were going to bite me. Luckily we haven’t encountered a drop bear yet.
Will has jumped into life as a trauma sales rep. His days are busy and he is in surgery until late night from time to time. I keep our life organized. I have been filling out paperwork for insurance, banking, utilities, housing, etc. Most forms ask that I state my occupation. I no longer get to click the option as “Employed, Full Time.” However, I don’t need to check the box next to “Unemployed” since “Stay At Home Wife” is an option. Who knew. I like this occupation. Unfortunately I don’t get paid, so I continue to shop the local Op Shops for clothing and accessories. I scored big time at the Salvos Op Shop recently. Two business outfits, dress coat, casual outfit, dress and Prada purse for $78 USD.
I get to see my new friend Anastasia (Ana) often. Ana moved to Melbourne from Greece 19 years ago. Her parents and grandmother are still in Greece, but she hasn’t been back since arriving in Australia. She has a husband and two daughters a bubbly personality. She loves good coffee and offers great advice on shopping for things around the city, job search, and life in general. I love my conversations with Ana, and she lets me help make the bed. She doesn’t really get a choice in this friendship since she’s assigned to clean our room, but I consider her one of my best friends in Melbourne!
Ana and I don’t get into politics, but almost everyone else I encounter wants to as soon as they pick up my accent. I appreciate the opportunity to look at the U.S. and the world from a totally different perspective. It is coincidental that our visa term and the next presidential term are both four years. Here are Australian comics and American-inspired furniture I’ve run across (and a globe I want for Christmas).
I had the opportunity to participate in the Australian Remembrance Day at the Shrine of Remembrance. At 11 am on the 11th of November each year, a ray of light shines through a small window at the top of the building and shines on the stone in the center of the building that says, “Greater Love Has No Man.” Lucky for me it was a clear day and the light was radiant.
I feel fortunate to be able to spend so much time exploring Melbourne. With all of this extra time, I’ve made some pretty awesome discoveries. Walking through a park I found a Casio watch on the ground, identical to the one my dad used to wear. It sounds the same alarm that played from his every day at 5:50 pm to remind him to get home for dinner. When he was remodeling our house the watch fell off his wrist and down inside the wall between our kitchen and family room. He wasn’t able to retrieve it, so we heard that alarm chirping inside the wall for years until the watch finally died.
Another great find at Salvos was a book titled, “Such is Life” by Tom Collins. My dad’s name was Tom Collins. He didn’t put up with whining, and accepted the good and the bad with a positive attitude. The title of the book reminds me of his outlook. I opened the book to read the first line and laughed at how much it reminds me of me, “UNEMPLOYED at last!”
Last week we woke up to two hot air balloons outside our window. Back in 2001, my dad and I took a hot air balloon ride in Australia. He has been gone since 2008, but with these random discoveries I like to think he’s floating around Australia, letting me know he’s still here.
The music list in my mind also keeps playing “Breathing Underwater” by one of my favorite Canadian bands, Metric. As I sat by the ocean on Philip Island over the weekend, watching my husband playing in the waves, dozing off to the sound of crashing waves, smelling the ocean air, feeling the breeze on my skin and sand in my toes, and spotting penguins along gorgeous seaside boardwalks, I couldn’t stop replaying the lyric, “Is this my life? Am I breathing underwater?”