So, so, so...I'm at the end of leg one of my move to Melbourne, having (a) started my new job and (b) moved into my latest rental abode. When I say moved in, I mean me, the swag, the esky, a suitcase full of workclothes, and later a toaster, a saucepan, a fridge and a microwave. Leg two will involve the cats and the bike, and those finicky electrical goods I could have brought in the car but forgot (the jug, the powerboard, the clock radio, etc). Needless to say, first housewarming gift to self was a secondhand swing-door kitty-litter box.
Otherwise, I'm slumping after five days of hitting the tarmac pretty much running at my new job and organising various bits and bobs before the Big Move. That's right, the real move, leg three, when I load the rest of my stuff into the back of a van and hope that it somehow makes it here from Alice. The removalists have given me a set-down date of 6 April, tho that does seem optimistic, given they're based in Alice and they'd have to be driving over the Easter break. All this removal business is reminding me what an undertaking it is, and how it's not to be done on a whim...every year. I'm leaving my unit semi-furnished so I can go back for a stint in Alice if I want, but I doubt I'll ever do another permanent move back there.
I ended up applying for the first place I saw -- the Greek Grandmother's Delight in blue and white in a divey-looking block with lots of pot plants and cat kitsch -- then rescinding the application after seeing several larger abodes which would take all my stuff easily, but which were considerably more expensive. At one point, I was seriously taken by the renovated ground floor of an old bank -- plenty of cupboard space, and potential for me to subdivide an area into a study and a living room. But there was no outside space for the cats, all the windows were fixed (so I'd rely on air-conditioning to ventilate the place), and a tramline was directly outside: I'd be woken every morning by the first tram that rattled along. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought: do the cats really need to go outside? The Ancient Princess was not in question, as she'd sleep all day on my bed if she could, but did the others really go out when I wasn't there? Answer: not a lot, but they do like sitting on their chairs on the balcony of an evening.
The solution was clear: I must return to the Greek Grandmother's Delight, with its north-facing balcony. (Happily, no one else had applied.) There were other advantages, like potentially clear delineation of cat boundaries (with separate litter boxes). The living area was kind of small, but it had an unusually large dining area opening onto the balcony, which would make an excellent writing nook, especially in the winter. The block might look divey from the street, but it had a quite congenial feel (indeed, the residents have been friendly in a downmarket funky Melrose Place kind of way). In fact, it seemed almost rural, because of its relative quietness and proximity to Merri Creek. "Rural' is good after Alice," a fellow ex-Springian in the office said. He's right; you don't want to get too urban too quickly.
It was also walking distance from High St and, as C pointed out to me on Google maps, it was a 1.2 km walk to work. I could always buy my own floor of an old building if I still liked living in Melbourne as much in a year's time, and subdivide it as I liked. (And who wants to be worrying about having enough money to pay the rent at the expense of all the other things one came to Melbourne for -- like going out and buying books?)
So, even though it probably meant jettisoning more of my furniture, it seemed like a good option. I am currently sitting on my only chair, the screen door onto the balcony open, the late evening light streaming into the kitchen. The sea of traffic is in the background, the waves of cars, occasional train noises...it does seem very rural and peaceful.
There's a certain Olive Pink-esque appeal about my current adventure. When I left Alice, I packed pretty much everything I had with a lens (doubting the removalists' ability not to break them -- wish I'd brought my grandmother's mirror as well). Sebastiane said to me, 'What are you going to do? Sit in your flat surrounded by Aboriginal art, watching TV, taking photos and looking out the window with a telescope?' Which is pretty much how things have been over the past few days, except for the stargazing. I've been swagging it in Northcote for over a week (dogsitting across the northern suburbs preceded flat-dwelling), using the esky until the fridge came, so my existence has a certain eccentric quality. I'm surprised how taken aback some people in the office have been by this, especially my lack of a bodum, tho owning one hardly seems necessary my location.
I feel as though I'm living in a pleasant triangle, with the villages of Northcote, Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy at either point. I'm still full of the excitement of being in Melbourne, not yet nostalgic for Alice. I keep on wondering whether I should be this pleased with things...As a friend said, 'How like you to be suspicious of your own contentment!'
I'm planning to write a 21st version of Rasselas, about an Olive Pink-type figure running from place to place, desert to city, etc, New York to Alice, never quite sure where she's happiest.Now, have to get on Tiger flight at very ungodly hour of the morning and return to undertake legs two and three of the move...