Thursday, February 9, 2012
Aloneness and serenity
Can there be such a thing as contented aloneness? And am I contented thanks to three (legal sized) serves of New Zealand Sqyeling Pig Sauv Blanc? I am even contented enough to forgive the cehf his use of re-c0nstituted dried figs on grilled saganaki IN FIG SEASON! Perhaps it is the mellowness of the wine relecting the mellowness of my mood for the first time in weeks.
Is it alcohol that fules my empathy for my dear friend who under time pressure returned home to be "domestically accountable" at precisely the "expected time" to perform her "anticpated wifely duties"? Yet again I sit pondering relationships, especially marrriage and the contraints and limitations that seem to flow towards one particular gender only. Surely the columnist speak of trust but is that trust only accountable one way? Is she (whichever married, ex-married or partnered acquaintance) trusted to have space.. some private alone time without explanation or justification? Where is that freedom to "just be"... not to do anything morally or ethically suspect or downright wrong or misguided just free to have a private space uncluttered with the demands and emotional baggage of significant others?
Am I too selfish? Is there such a thing when trust and negotiated boundaries are clearly articulated? can somebody tell me how simply "stopping and gazing across a marina revelling in the gentle sea breeze ruffling one's hair and the salty air wakening the nostrils to living nature" doing anything wrong or damaging to others?
And what of friends who share a common bond with an intricate understanding of what scholarly academic pressures are like throughout the simmering pressure cooker of a PhD. Only one who has been there has any possible inkling of what is necessary to simply 'get through it in one piece', mentally, emotionally, academically and even physically... RSI anyone?
I look out over the marina cove and I see it for what it is an unphotoshopped real estate marketing glossy in the shop windows. The water is not blue or turqoise or any other aestheically sounding hue of blue-ness. It is green, an not the most attractive shade of green, a green verging on military khaki.... or to be kind perhaps olive. This very olive tinge is a life giving force. It is from this water the brighter algae adheres to the concrete pilons and foundations of the hotel deck. I watch mesmerised as quite large dark grey/black fish quickly push through the surface with a tail swish whilst nibbling on the algae.
The green surface has the very slightest ripples from the onshore breeze interupted by samm clusters of airbubbles hinting at the teaming living world below. As I gaze acroos the many empty moorings I am tempted to anthropomorphise the small motor boats reminiscent of patinet domestic pets waiting the return of owners for daily excercise. Behind the few boats and the tidy coils of rope laying in waiting next to the bollards my eyes are drawn inevitably to perhaps the most offensive building aesthetically, the corrugated iron multi-level boat under-cover storage area. The one st St Kilda shows stach upon stack of glistening white and blue craft, this one has a small roller door offering only the tiniest peak inside to a dark space reminiscent of an industrial complex or aircaft hangar, and on one middle rack a single vessell is in full view as if the last unwanted item on a supermarket shelf.
To one side of this monstrosity blocking any possible visat across the marina to the riverfrontage units on the opposing side, resides a large metal skeletal structure with angular thrusting beams and trusses. I pray this is not an extension for the ubiquitous neon-dominated 'pokies area' just visible past the bar and servery. Enough. Too many elderly players resorting to these inanimate voracious machines gulping coins, notes and point of sale e-cards.
Pokies and thrusting architecture... so Melbourne circa 1980. What is it with this 'aspirational heavenward reach'... forgive the sinners lord they know not what they do? Or forgive the finacier-predators for they truly believe in the economic 'trickle-down' effect whilst churches and welfare agencies deal with the familial collateral damage?
Neither neon-lit machines or monolithic outdated architecture suits the locale. Nothing compliments the gentle curves of a once natural watercourse, or artificial islands and curving boardwalks lined with palm trees, serviced by monopoly supermarket and fuel outlets to facilitate the needs of city-bound comuters attempting to find their small piece of seachange whilst daily battling the gridlock of the freeways.
Yet despite the somewhat incongruous waterfront villa 'stacks' each complete with mooring, jetty and balcony I still feel calm and tranquil. I guess it is because the place is so vacant of activity, no nodding passers b y happily walking Fido, carrying the environmentally sound fabric shopping bags and all the time in the world for a kind word or two as encountered at Yarra's End in Melbourne. This vacant environment is ghostly with a sense of expectation... something will happen eventually even though it isn't Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
"Little boxes, little boxes and they're all made of ticky tacky, little boxes on the hillside and they look just the same". These have no hillside. Yet they are exactly the same. Each balcony showcases the ubiquitous multiburner BBQ, weather-proofed woven outdoor settings with reinforced glass tables and the obviously compulsory 'mop top' planters. Each apartment or unit is stacked one on top of another with a minimalist dividing wall. Obviously communication between neighbours is frowned upon and despite a raked and stepped design no conversation is possible between upstairs occupants with their donstairs counterparts. Yet I can hear in my imagination the same sizzling steaks and seafood sounds, the murmurs of conversations, wine bottles being opened and corks popping. The same communal relaxation noises without the Community.
Suddenly my reverie is interrupted as I realise the community buzz is in fact real and emanating from a sectioned of part of the L-shaped deck of the hotel where a work function is taking place. You can tell the deeper rumble and throatey guffaws of the men with the lighter pitched women's voices in counterpoint as alcohol and party atmosphere lifts normal vocal pitches even higher. I look at the group and realise I do not want to be with them. I do not want to be over there listening to the same mundane workplace gossip and inanities with forced smile and party face. I am content, alone, here across the water. I am calmly observing the world going about its business.
At a table for two just down from my seat there is an animated conversation taking place between what appears to be late twenties best friends of each gender. She is defensive of him and her pecerception of how a particular female acquaitance is abusing his good nature. He nods and replies with the obligatory 'umms' to give the impression gthat this is actually a conversation when in fact it is a very bad therapy session replete with self-help cliches being hurled in his direction from his "bestie". Oh no back to relationships again... the afternoon is turning full circle as the sun lowers in the sky, the seabirds head noisily home for the evening.
I am fighting the urge to stand up and scream to everyone in earshot, the party, the couple the pokies players... "Just shut up and listen. Listen to the sounds of paradise"... the softly discernable whoosh of wind on water, the falpping of the duck wings coming in for landing, the gentle thuds of the boats bumping against the rubber floatation hammocks, and the sounds of the seagulls across the marina through the one green treed pathway between inlets.
It is then I notice them, the family. One man, one woman a young girl in blue print school dress walking their fluffy white puppy. She skips along the boardwalk opposite, the man and woman holding hands. Ah possibly the ad agency picture perfect photo... quick pass my camera for THAT real estate agency advertising shot.