A month ago, I quit my day job to go off and get married, honeymoon and then embark on a self-imposed creative sabbatical, which after seven full-time years in the workforce has 95 per cent been incredibly rewarding. But on those other 5 per cent of days I sit at home, eat ice cream and reminisce about all the good times had during my public transport commuting, office-dwelling, professional ex-life working in Melbourne.
Today, it’s working in the Melbourne CBD that I’m having the most difficulty breaking up with. Five things in particular:
1. Flinders Street Station
Yes, I’m about to say this. I actually used to enjoy and now miss my twice-daily train rides. There, said it. Working on my own in a satellite Melbourne office, and now on my own at home, public transport was my only daily contact with real people.
Although what was even better than a push in the back or arse grope was arriving at the architectural beauty that is Flinders Street Station, caught between the looming city on one side, and Southbank and the Yarra River on the other side. All her old worldly grandeur would always make me feel like I’d been transported back to the turn of the 20th century for a moment, before getting caught up in the present again and charging along through the station with the thousands of other commuters, all with purpose, a place to be.
I’ll admit, sometimes, even if I wasn’t in a hurry, I would charge along, arms swinging, just so I looked like I fitted in.
2. Degraves Street and Campbell Arcade
I also always secretly enjoyed detouring through Campbell Arcade, hidden in the bowels of the CBD between Flinders Street Station and Degraves Street. With its salmon-coloured walls and Art Deco design, I liked to walk through the subway each morning (even though it took me out of my way and I’d have to backtrack) and pretend my name was Mary and I was fabulously stylish in my 1950s wardrobe.
It would be the strong and truly amazing smell of coffee emanating from Cup of Truth that would always break my little daydream. Making me acutely aware of my need for caffeine. I would then feel like a crack addict fighting the desire to hook a strong black intravenous drip straight up to my arm.
Finally, being spat out of the subway into the graffiti art-splattered Degraves Street, with its cafe tables, coffee shops and boutique stores, was always a subtle reminder that yep I live in Melbourne.
3. Melbourne Central, Melbourne Emporium and Bourke Street Mall
The shopping trifecta that is Melbourne Central, Melbourne Emporium and Bourke Street Mall, I fear I took you for granted. I apologise.
It was indeed a glorious world working 100 metres from Melbourne Central. The ability to hastily buy a weekend outfit at 5pm on Friday or just peruse the latest fashions in the window as I’d hunt down an almond croissant at 3pm, or whatever other sweet pastry sugar craving I was having that particular afternoon, was under-appreciated.
And when Melbourne’s temperamental weather was out in force you could shop the three blocks sans umbrella. Tunnels, genius!
The choice of fashion shopping within this prime section of city real estate is mind-boggling, given that you can take your pick from not one but two Portmans stores, three Lovisas, three Kookais, three Cues, etc, etc. At least I could always find my size without having to get in the car.
4. Food court choice overload
At my previous, previous job, sometimes if I’d been really well-behaved I’d reward myself by buying lunch. These were the best days of the week. I had three options: sushi, Subway or the IGA supermarket. They were on a rotating roster.
Then I started working in the Melbourne CBD where I had easy access to Melbourne Central’s two food courts, Melbourne Emporium’s food court and all the little eateries surrounding the area, covering off all possible types of lunch food cravings that you did and didn’t know you had.
One day I couldn’t make up my mind what my purchased lunch treat should be. I was lapping Melbourne Central like an F1 driver. Did I want a Bing Boys prawn king omelette wrap, a chicken schnitzel and avocado wrap from Schnitz, or the four for $9 Vietnamese cold rolls? Or did I want a big fat super cheesy piece of pizza? For the first time in my entire life all I wanted was a boring salad from home. In the end, my lunch break was over and I went back to work in a daze and ate a tin of tuna I found in my desk draw.
Now sitting at home, I’m often seen running, kicking and screaming, away from a home-made salad.
5. The characters
Finally, it has to be the assortment of characters that the city draws in like a magnet, keeping the day interesting and making sure you’re always alert, with both hands on your handbag.
Like the guy who spent a whole tram ride with his finger up his nose. The junkie who asks for a spare $50. Who has a spare $50?! I don’t even have a spare $5? Or the lady who sat with me on my lunch break in Flagstaff Gardens convinced I was her daughter.
Melbourne CBD I miss you!