Monday, April 20, 2009

Night in the sticks

We spent last Saturday night at a 50th birthday party for someone who was, prior to the weekend, simply a friend of a friend.

As far as 50ths go, though, this one was a standout. For reasons I'm yet to really know, birthday girl Carole is nothing like the "typical 50 year old". I sort of knew this prior to the weekend, but it kicked in even more as she regaled the gathered group about her marathon stint at the Byron Bay Blues Festival the weekend before. When a group of 40- or 50-somethings turned up with guitars, a double bass and a saxophone, you know it's going to be a cracker of a night.

Alas, for the Tiger and I, it was not too be a purely enjoyable eve, thanks largely to QRs ineptitude. Rather than go into a big sob story, I'll just say that due to a "police incident" at Ormeau, trains were not running between Robina and Beenleigh. About 6 phone calls later (to both Translink and QR), and I was finally assured that we would not be left stranded some 100-or-so kilometres from home. How pleasant. What ensued, however, was a marathon bus and train trip, still partially intoxicated from the beer bong Carole's young son and friends peer pressured me into. Joy!

This is not to detract from a great night at Carole's. Before the evening, we were merely "acquaintances", hanging out at various gigs and events in Brisbane thanks largely to her then boyfriend John. Accepting the invitation to her 50th was not taken lightly, due pretty much due to where it was (Palm Beach) and my absolute hatred of the feeling of being "trapped" somewhere without an easy plan for escape (as we don't drive, this can be a drama).

Just a few minutes into the afternoon, escape became the absolute last thing on my mind. Carole and her extended family of adult daughters, a teenage son and thriving gaggle of friends and compatriots made us feel completely at home straight away. It was with a sense of sadness, in fact, that we were wrenched away from the madness of her teenage son's beer bong shenanigans to venture home. And, despite the dramas imposed on us by Queensland Rail and Translink's absolute failure at both communications and customer service, I was bouyed by the beauty, joy and love such a humble thing as family, friends and laughter can bring. And it made me glad that my now 1-year-old marriage has (hopefully) put me on that path of such things as I head towards my 50th.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reflections Of A Sound

The Easter weekend has almost evaporated, and as I sit on the "nearly back at work" side of the scale and look back, I can honestly say I loved every second of its lazy goodness.

Just sitting at home, soaking up the Love Den's wonderfully welcoming embrace as the slow, lazy and overcast days rolled by was sort of cathartic, in a way. I have even managed to sleep in every morning, which is pretty rare in my world (thanks mainly to the construction worker's union remaining strong and ensuring NO work was being done around my home this weekend... it's easy to forget how quiet it can actually be on Sandgate Road sometimes). Hanging out with the Tiger was bliss, too. Our lives have been slowly circling away from each other's in the past few weeks as she focusses on her study, and I find most of my evenings wrapped up in either the gym or the gathering steam of the jamming sessions.

Late this afternoon, however, in the usual innocence of the Tiger's curious ways, I was slapped in the face by where my life had come in the past few years. Researching places to stay down the Gold Coast next weekend for a friend's 50th birthday party, we clicked on to Google Maps. As usual, we get side-tracked and the Tiger takes us on a Streetview tour of Albion... a tour back in time, as it seems.

Google isn't that keen on new-ness, it seems. A cursory glance around streetview shows the pics in my little neck of suburbia were taken about 2 years ago. The office block/restaurant across the road was nothing more than a lone cement slab standing as an omen to its future emptiness (the place is still not fully tenanted!). The curtain shop next door was still the curtain shop (it's now empty); the laundromat across the lane was still the laundromat (before it was turned into the mysterious upholstery shop which never seems to open). Heading down the lane is when you get the most stark view of where this corner of Brisbane has come from in such a short time. On the screen, the corner house was still there: it's now 2-story a construction site, complete with a high-level crane and countless to-ing and fro-ing from very early in the morning 6 days a week. A little further down the road, and the streetview single storey brick workshop is still there and in business. Today, it's a 6-storey concrete slab monstrosity which has topped out and add to Albion's big grey box skyline. Across the road, and the old mill is still completely intact (although, the hoardings are up advertising its future): today, it's nothing more than the old brick mill building, the iconic blue and white silo and a motley collection of weeds slowly taking over the site.

It got me thinking, naturally, of where I'd traveled in the same space of time. Sure, 2 or so years can fly by without you noticing it, but when you pack as much into those years as you can, 2 or so years ago can seem like a lifetime ago. And it also gives you a bit of a kick up the bum to get on your way to filling at least the next 2 years with as much fun, excitement, joy and love as the past 2 or so have been.

And while it's easy to get dismayed as you see the heart of your sweet suburb get ripped out from around you (and possibly even swallow your home), it can also be the necessary siren-song for the end of an era and the beginning of another. I'm rapidly turning this into a positive, as I look at the uncertainty of both my professional and personal worlds, and see it as nothing but a great thing: I know I'll land on my feet... I'm just pretty darned anxious to see exactly where those feet will end up.