A Woman sitting opposite me on the train. It is peak hour. She is reading a novel which is apparently the funniest thing in the world. She cannot control her laughter, despite her best attempts at reigning it in to save face on the crowded train. Laughing in spite of herself, she remains unaware that she has brought a smile to my own face. I wonder if all the worlds ills can be healed with spontaneous outbreaks of laughter.
It is 11pm at Flinders Street station. I have just missed my train and have to wait half an hour for the next service. I assume a seat and begin to read my book. To my left are two young men- I would place them at about 21 years of age. They look like and speak like bogans. They are clearly heading home from a night out in the city. I give them a quick glance up and down and then resume reading, whereupon I am interrupted by the shorter of the two. ‘Oi mate,’ he says, with a mixture of friendliness and aggression. ‘Do you want a Ferrero Rocher?’
Somewhat startled I turned to face the voice. In front of my face is a gift box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. The contrast between these bogan personas and the box of chocolates makes me smile to myself. I eagerly accept the chocolate and continue my book, thankful for their kindness.
I am heading into the city to meet a friend for coffee. Being new to Melbourne I am still yet to get my bearings. As I head down what I think is the right street, I notice two elderly men who are volunteering as city guides. I approach one of them and ask for directions. His name is Peter, and he warmly welcomes me to Melbourne and provides me with a detailed map of where to go. I am touched by his by both his helpfulness and friendliness.
The owner of the second-hand bookstore welcomes me with an almost excessive warmth. She asked me if I need help with anything, and I tell her I am after a book on modern German history. She sets about locating anything of relevance with a determination that I find both awkward and endearing. She buries herself in piles of books, all the while muttering to herself in what sounds like a made-up dialect. She emerges some ten minutes later with a classic biography of Bismarck. It’s just the sort of thing I need. I smile, thank her and promise to come back.
My brother puts his arm around me as we bellow out the lyrics to Hall and Oates’ ‘Kiss on My List.’ We are in a small bar in inner Melbourne. We are merry, after consuming several beers. We are celebrating our reunion after over a decade of me living interstate. We have both had a long and difficult journey in life but at this moment none of that matters. We are free. We smile, laugh and abandon everything to the joy of being together.