Letters Home IX. Merry Chrissy & Other Suburbian Tales.

A month or so ago on a sunny afternoon I was walking in the city center – which doesn’t happen often anymore (if not to come and go from The Usual) – wearing my Mom jeans and a green top.
A random stranger stops me in the middle of Flinders Lane.
Random person: “Hi, sorry, are you Spanish?”
Me: “No, I’m not.” I was surprised and puzzled. Was he Spanish? Did he need my help? Did he have a question? Did he need me to translate something?
Random person: “Ah, ok. No just ‘cause your style is very cool today so I thought… well… where are you from?”
Me: “I’m Dutch.”
Random person: “Oh, oh, ok. That has nothing to do with Spain.”
Me (feeling bad for him as I’m hiding the fact that I’m actually Italian as well so the ‘Mediterraneaniss’ is certainly present): “Well, I lived in Barcelona if that’s any consolation.”
Random person: “Yeah well, but that doesn’t give you Spanish features. Maybe after generations. You know.”
Me: “Hmmm, maybe.” Not sure what he was trying to say or where he was getting at. Was there a point to this weird conversation?
Random person: “So you know all about the cha cha cha? Or what is it that they dance in Spain? Cha cha cha? Or flamenco?”
Me: “It really depends where in Spain you are, each region has their own traditions. Spain is quite big and culturally diverse.”
Random person: “Aha. You’re a smart girl.”
What did he want?
Me: “Well, I gotta go. Was nice meeting you”.
Random person: “What, no, wait! Where did I go wrong?”
I laugh while walking away.

Life as a Suburbian is alright. It’s nice and quiet, we know our neighbors -saluting them with ‘G’day’- some of them even became our friends and we go camping with them, we can have parties in the backyard. Nothing to complain about. But still, when on a hot summer day I walk down a stinky lane in the city with a homeless guy on one corner and a crappy 7/11 on the other I think to myself: this is what I love about cities. I love the city, any city, because it’s smelly and dirty, it’s busy and anonymous, it has the right amount of scary and familiar at the same time.

Summer is here – finally! After a long and shitty spring, I’m sweating and cursing about the tropical heatwave that has taken over the city. But it’s good. It’s real summer. The one you hate and love. The one where your skin smells like salt and sunscreen, sticky days are followed by sticky nights. Life is good.

Since last time a couple of things happened: I turned 31 and am now officially old, Jesus’ Birthday got celebrated again and A and I had a long Christmas-Summer-Camping-Trip in Tasmania. Now let me tell you, I’m not a Christmas person. I like Christmas, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not attached to any traditions per se. I enjoyed Christmas Eve the most during my childhood years when it was spent in my grandma’s beautiful old house on the Oude Delft – tables were elegantly laid and a big Christmas tree towered at the end with real candles (and a bucket of water next to it, just in case) but even then there wasn’t really a ritual about what was going to be eaten. Christmas is just a cozy day with family on a cold winter night. Or how Schmidt from New Girl calls it, it’s a ‘White Anglo-Saxon Winter Privilege Night’. So when Christmas arrives in Australia, I just don’t care that much. I don’t feel it, it’s just not there if you just setup your tent on a beach in Coles bay and have a swim in the clear blue sea because you’re melting from the sun (the ozone layer hole in Tasmania is even bigger than in mainland Australia). Also, I realised a wonderful thing this year: having the months screwed up, living upside down, has an amazing perk: my birthday is not in the winter! I can have a BBQ in the sun while drinking margaritas. I forgive you Australia.