two posts to put up on one day; and as it's "a poor sort of memory that works only backwards", I'll do today's now and the one from two weeks ago later.
Jet lag. Like a dream of being awake in the middle of the night; but it's bright and trams and bikes are rolling by. I wake up at 6.30 am. It's not ligt yet; it could be midnight (it is in Vegas).
By seven, the sun is just rising. I keep it behind me as I set out on the ride, the same ride I always do in the morning. Today, though, it's different. Two weeks off these shores have disconnected me from the familiarity of landscape, the rhythm of days and I see anew with the clarity of an acid trip. It's been raining, and I'm in love with the sudden green of the park, the tang of eucalyptus in the air. All around me, people are taking this morning, Melbourne, here and now, for granted, but I arrive at the Vic Market at 7.30 with the surprise of a witness to a resurrection. I buy a coffee - proper coffee, which is unobtainable in America - and a donut - smaller than my own head and freshly made, I note to a friend later - and make my way in the anonymity of a scruffy bike rider to a chrome chair at a chrome table.
On the way I collect a free postcard advertising an anime exhibition, and what looks like a small cartoon/newsletter zine, photocopied and stuffed into the postcard stand. Only when I sit down, bite into the soft dough and hot jam and start reading, do I realise that it's a piece of provocation, a pretend newsletter from a pretend refugee action group, advising the good people of North Melbourne that they must take in refugees this month, and then learnt to slaughter sheep halal-style, to cover their heads and silence their women. Who would believe this was real? who would be turned against other humans by such transparent trash? I don't know, but a hot flush of anger invades my ghostly disconnected self; I leave my coffee, walk inside, take the rest of the newsletters off the stand and chuck them in the recycling bin. I wouldn't do this in America; I don't think I would. This is part of what it means to be home; to care, and to act, on how things are.
That was yesterday; today I rode out even earlier, at 6.30, when the only sign of dawn was a small crack of yellow sky hovering to the west. There was a storm coming (now, at 2pm, it's blowing all the trees outside down in a synchronised fawning bow, and people shouldn't go outside); the storm somehow coloured the earliest light of the sun so that the clouds were an inverted dunescape, red glowing sands on the peaks and dark purple greys in the valleys. Over the sky-desert a small flashing white light travelled tiny; a plane moving fast, but small and out of place in the angry sky. By 7.30, when I was almost home again and the sun was rising, a nuclear explosion coming up from the east, the city was a jagged mirror reflecting yellows and pinks against a purple western haze; the white trunks of the trees were tinged pink and the green of their leaves glowed with radiation.