For the love of Melbourne

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I have this dream. Up against Dr King’s, I’ll admit, it’s a pretty petty one. It’d make sense as an opening speech; the sort that can’t be heard because people are still bustling about, waiting for the person they came to see. The likelihood is they can’t even physically see me: I’m not allowed to stand above the last step, and this is no doubt giving the crowd an excuse to turn a blind eye. Blind eyes do see again though. When Dr. King walks out, he announces how happy he is to be joined by everyone on a day he deems significant in his first line.

I’m not saying that Dr. King is cocky. I am, however, whole-heartedly admitting my stories’ inadequacy for the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In that they tend to be accounts of others’ humiliation, dominated by my own laughter, there’s not a huge sense of brotherhood involved. At least, this is what people tell me. These people probably missed Kelly Clarkson’s message in “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” too.

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We needn’t hold it against them for we have progressed in at least one way since the era of Dr King. Fortunately for me – and probably not for you – I don’t have to stand on the Lincoln steps to spread a message anymore. I can kick back, make a green tea, even enjoy myself a glass of champagne while I sprinkle my thoughts on those happy to bask amongst. I find there’s less pressure. I don’t have to be concerned people might repeat what I say in 50 years time. And finally, there’s no one persuading I ad-lib the rest of the post. Most of my impromptu work up to date – apart from those times I swore in school presentations for emphasis – has been pretty, well, shit.

What makes Currently Loving most desirable over the Lincoln steps, though, is that while I can discuss all the bigger dreams – you know, the becoming of good people and whatnot – I figure it’s an open space here. Surely we can share the more trivial dreams too.coffee.jpg

The one to which I refer now (you guessed it) involves a little poodle. Actually, I’m not sure it’s a poodle. I’m not really a dog person, unless, of course, it slightly resembles a poodle (there I go re-including the entire population of dogs). You’ll have to have patience with me; I didn’t grow up with animals. This means that despite my belief in vegetarianism and the equality of all, I struggle to comprehend gender as a differentiator between anything that isn’t human.

I will probably definitely call your dog ‘it’ at some stage, if not recurrently. In the past I’ve concluded the method as a safe out when I can’t remember the sex of people’s pets. In hindsight, objectifying these living and emotionally attached beings is probably much more insulting than simply mistaking their gender. My deepest apologies – for the fact that my writing style is either incredibly heavy or pure shit-talk about poodles too. I swear I get somewhere with this eventually.

So in my dream, there’s this brown and white dog (and it kind of looks like a poodle). On Sunday mornings, we walk down the South Yarra river. We rise early though we’ve spent the night dancing on Chapel Street (myself and friends, not me and the dog). It’s by 8am that the sky has whisked itself into a blue and white esplanade; it follows us along the river. The further we walk, the less it streaks in white. Now, several shades lighter than the ocean on clear days. It is Winter, yet the sun is so strong here, black jackets tie themselves around my waist.

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On these mornings, I find myself back at Richmond, a neighbourhood I want to describe as the Ponsonby of Melbourne. If you can possibly believe it, here things are even more aesthetic; people are interesting, creative and nice. As with most of my judgements, this too is purely surface-level. Fortunately I do prefer it this way: whereby I am young and naive, equality and sisterhood do exist and my dreams remain taintless.

Richmond is the suburb whereby Uber drivers rock up in Range Rovers. This experience is the closest most of us will ever get to Karaoke with James Cordon. Only out of courtesy, one is obliged to live it up: to sink into the brown leather covers, straighten our backs in accordance with the high seats – and our equally high horses. A complimentary mint? Why, we’ll take two.

On arrival at Two Birds One Stone Café, it’s hard to miss the obvious: everyone in Richmond is good-looking. They all care about their health, but not even in a forced, my-parents-made-me-run sort of way. Here in Richmond, they don’t have to be pushed to walk their dog; they actually want to do it. Untitled-5.jpg

These people are the first to sport Adidas X anyone, to order a long black instead of a flat white. They appear as if they’ve had their hair (and skin and tan) done just a couple of hours before. They go out each Saturday night, but you wouldn’t know because they don’t look pale and washed-out like us. They still look fresh, the shits.

And yet, in my dream, I’m not actually angry at these kids. All that they have, they’ve earned. They’re young, they’re affluent, and such is the case for they’re behind some new social media endeavour. They’re initiating a most innovative marketing shift for several different companies. They don’t come from money, as much as they are creating it. For they’re smart and they’re driven, they can afford to order avocado smash with haloumi every Sunday.

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The attractive guy in leather boots a few tables down, the girl in the long trench coat just walking in, they’re both somebodies. And not because they’re famous, but because their ideas are waiting to be. These two, they walk with a self-confidence, yet talk with a sincerity that assures you of their consciousness. This isn’t a bubble of handed-down fortune. Granted, you can fake it till you make it, but on one condition: that you make it for yourself.

This is what I found most exciting – and notably, inspiring – about Melbourne. It’s the reason I find the place I live, Wellington, equally stimulating. There’s a lot of culture to be found in both places; more, they share such a prominent youth culture. Actively embraced is the new, anything that buzzes with potential. There is space for quirk, for difference and for experimentation. Nothing is conventional, and even that which is finds an alternate angle.Untitled-3.jpgIMG_4678

Although there is money here, somehow, it hardly feels the focus. People are driven by interest and passion because to have both is celebrated. It takes only viewing the series of graffiti walls that line the Melbourne city map to recognise this. Such creativity is not scrubbed off as a hinderance to aestheticism. No, the art becomes a destination for sight-seers, a reason to come.

I left Melbourne with a burning desire to return not solely because I’m a big city girl, I’m into fashion and coffee. I witnessed a lot of self-belief, and even more, collaboration. Here it would seem pretty impossible to be driven by trivial dreams after all.

McKenzie xx

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