It’s the close of autumn, but the sky is barely registering. Yesterday, the 21st of May, was amazingly warm - sunlight streaming through in the afternoon at the perfect angle for my second floor window. It’s then that the light’s brightest — the geometry of light, the geometry of how the sun folds down toward the horizon and my unassuming window.
Driving past a peculiar little centre with a thermometer in its front yard, I noticed it was 27 degrees outside. Twenty seven degrees! With leaves falling, the air thick, warmth like spring and summer on my skin. I wanted this to drag on for good. Ice cream melted on my tongue, my stomach craved prawn cocktails.
It was only this morning that I woke up and realised that yesterday was meant to have been the Rapture. It’s so overcast and wet — at first my thought had only been for my laundry, which I’d put off thinking that we’d have more of the same gloriousness today. It was only later, going online and filtering through all the articles from the US (a day behind us, vaguely, in time zones) that I found out.
Oh. Did I miss it? How weird it would have been to have actually slept through the end of the world, if it had been the end of the world that day.
I hate all those end-of-the-world jokes, by the way. The 2012 forecasts, the Rapture dates. Not that I’m a non-believer, because I don’t think it impossible for something greater than ourselves to exist; but I can’t let this go - life, breathing, everyday miracles.
Last Saturday I threaded my way through Federation Square where I’d parked to catch the tram to the medical careers expo and found myself at walking past a populated atrium. It was raining hard.
An occassional stream of tourists took shelter under the roof of the exit beside it before dashing down the stairs towards the Yarra and that’s exactly where I was when I found myself drawn to the sound of music, and all the red banners.
The atrium was large. I’d never been inside, only glimpsed it in passing from the carpark on days when I had reason to be in the city - an act at the International Comedy Festival with Catrina one evening, and on a separate occassion with Will. It was a function room, I’d gathered; it doubled as an auditorium. The glass all around gave the room natural light, even though the outside was grey.
A balcony lined one of the walls, overhanging the auditorium area. Soft pipe music and the sound of running water echoed everywhere, beyond the chatter of the crowd. I soon realised that they were all young families - prams everywhere, little people tugging on their parents’ and grandparents’ hand.
From the top of the balcony, I peered down, arms hanging over the glass rails. It was so bright - some stairs down and then a stage below us in an indent in the room. Always, the sound of leaves and trees; the calmness of living things. Tibetan monks in yellow and red robes, head shaved, were standing with welcoming arms under lights. An excited line started at the back of the room, and snaked up to the stage. Parents were bringing their children forward, full of pride. From everywhere they came, from all nationalities.
At the top of the line, a monk dipped what looked like a branch in water and sprinkled it onto the heads of babies and children. A pregnant mother and her two small children came up and he blessed her too, and her swollen belly. She ruffled the heads of her two children. They pressed their palms together and bowed - the little girls peered up shyly from their bangs. It made me cry, but I don’t know why.
Sound seemed to be rushing out of the room.
It kept raining.
How can you tell me that the world might end the following week, after that?
Last night I had the strangest dream that woke me at dawn with the most awful feeling. Stretched, empty, the sharp tangy taste of loss, fear and something else that somehow went beyond what was appropriate.
In my dream I’d lost a dinosaur. Don’t laugh. It was a small brontosaurus, if I recall. We — a small group of people and I — were lost in a strange jungle land, trying to find our way to something I no longer remember. Along the way we struggled to survive from snakes, to pits. The only thing comforting us from the dark was a dinosaur that came along with us, as equally out of place in the landscape as we were. In the dark or in the cold, I’d reach a hand and lay it on its torso and felt safe, grounded.
From the Asian forests, we fell off a cliff and into Amazonian rainforest, and suddenly we were in an Aztec fortress. Somehow or other the Aztec fortress turned out to be a modern day museum and in the gift shop, I made my mother (how did she get there?) promise to pack all my souvenirs with me so I could take them home. When she got back to our house after me — a home that I thought I’d never see again — all that she had were a few live snakes from the various regions we’d survived, which I had to kill — and a dried fang from a fossil. No dinosaur.
“Where is the dinosaur?” I asked.
“Oh.” she’d said, devastated mostly because of the expression on my face. “It didn’t occur to me that you’d want that.”
I woke with a deep, writhing ache that I hadn’t felt for a long time.
Only later, much later — after I’d gotten up to drink a glass of water and eat some toast; after I’d gotten up to fold my clothes, clean the sink — did I wonder if the dinosaur might have been a metaphor for something. The past, maybe. Because the past is a living, breathing thing. A brontosaurus.
Oh my! I feel so undeserving, especially as your blog is amazing, amazing. I literally follow you around Melbourne in your pictures. x
P.S. What are you procrastinating?
- Theatre tech: A medical student, huh. So, what do you want to be when you 'grow up'?
- Melissa: A doctor. ;p
- Theatre tech: Haha I mean what kind of doctor.
- Melissa: A REAL doctor. ;p