Day 144 - To The Top!

Flinders St Station
August 29th, 2015

The plan today is for me and Shimou (no Luke) to make it back to Queen Victoria Market during the day before it closes, as we had missed the window yesterday. I’m relatively familiar with the transport and how to get to select places, which gets us there with about an hour and a half to shop around.
Hipster city!
To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the day market after my first exposure to it being the night version. During the day, it’s basically just a standard flea market, albeit a large one. It’s much more densely packed with stalls. It has the usual fare, but a lot more emphasis on Australian products, such as hand crafted wood made from, I think, wood specific to here, and Aussie opals. There are also a lot of Chinese stalls, but that seems to just be because of the large population of them in Melbourne.

Said Street Art (Flinders Ct)
I had missed getting a gift for someone, and was looking for something that fit the following specification:

  • Inexpensive
  • Australia/Melbourne Specific
  • Small
  • Light
  • Person Specific

I also applied same decision making process as the Bazaar Game back in Bali - the longer you take to decide and the more choices you have, the less happy you will be with the decision. I saw one thing that was perfect, a wine stopper, but passed it over because I figured I could find something better. I didn’t.

Shimou bought something as a congratulations for one of my friends who recently bought a house, which was quite generous given that she hasn’t met him yet. We leave in search of a new cafe, but find that most of the ones nearby aren’t anything special/have already been visited. Then it rains. The people here seem to handle the rain a lot better than they seemed to in Perth. Instead of disappearing, they just pull out umbrellas. Normal.

This one was across from the Day Drinker
We tram back to flinders station because I know I’ve seen a number of cafes that look cool around there, but they’re all closed. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea and no explanation is offered. I don’t think it’s a holiday, and the cafes around here seem to be open longer on Saturdays that on weekdays. I remember noticing that because it makes less sense to me. Again, if you work 9-5, no afternoon coffee for you cuz they close at 4!

After walking around a full block, we discover Flinders Ct, which is another one of those art laneways. We both have to go to the washroom, but I figure this will only take a couple minutes. This alley is a bit sketchier than normal, With artwork only going about a quarter into the lane from where I entered, and a homeless-looking woman drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. She keeps an eye out every time she’s about to take a swig. I pretend she doesn’t exist while I snap photos around her, and make sure to avoid having her in the frame. Don't need some pointless confrontation.

Bread with a Hotdog baked in
After collecting the photos, I head back out the way I came to find Shimou isn’t there. Not around the corner, either. I figure she wouldn’t be stupid or mean enough to just wander off without just saying something, and isn’t responding to text. Little background about me: whenever starting a new experience, my Dad would always be sure to tell us any and all horror stories he could possibly think of regarding the experience. Sure, letting people know the dangers involved in an activity can be cool, but telling someone the extreme, outlandish, rare cases is... counterproductive. Want some fear? Sure! Given this little tidbit, it might make sense why I have such a strong stance about not giving in to discomfort and fear.

The other “gift” my Dad's approach gave me was the ability to see potential disaster in anything. It can be useful when you keep it in check and be mindful that they’re extremely rare, but this particular situation also primed me* to think that something could have happened. Shimou dresses like she has money, and the stereotype of the rich Asian students doesn’t help. It is possible, but how possible? Not very... but why isn’t she responding to messages? Luke hasn’t heard anything, though would she tell him if she got mad and just walked off? Why wouldn’t she say something if she was annoyed with having to wait?

Elvis Praying to become The
World Overlord
She finally shows up after having gone to the store and finding a washroom. She had walked off out of annoyance for having to wait for me, and, I guess, tried to teach me a lesson. I wasn’t impressed, especially since I started thinking that the chance of something having happened was increasing as time had gone by. I didn’t reach any form of panic, but 20 minutes of silence can raise some alarms.

My Dad is not the most emotionally expressive guy, and times like this can make me relate. For him, like many others, concern in these situations is shown through anger. How could you do this?! Don’t you know how stupid that was! You are so.. blah blah blah. It’s tempting, since you can put up the mask of anger and hide your vulnerability. Add on top of that being a 6’7” guy whose eyes tear up when having vulnerable conversations and it makes it all that much harder to emote. Hell, I’d rather be lost in China, have a fist fight, or start door-to-door again than have to show that much exposure to someone, let alone write it on the internet. Yet here I am.

Melbourne! I'd like to see a long-exposure
To make matters worse, I forget the emotional rule that “whatever you resist persists” and constantly try to fight the tears. I’m not full out crying - they’re contained to just my eyes - but my throat and voice are doing that stupid tightening thing, which makes it impossible to fully hide or deny. God, an explosive fight would have been so much easier than sitting in a fucking McDonalds trying to calm down. Worse, again, is that anyone trying to comfort me in that situation will just make it worse or make me angry, given that, as a guy, you get ridiculed to no end any time you show this much vulnerability. I can't help but interpret any comforting as mocking. It also pulls my attention right back to the issue at hand. I have to tell her to stop addressing it, stop stroking my hand, and let me surf reddit for 5 minutes.

Another general emotional rule: whatever state you’re in, you want to stay in. The perfect example I heard from a youtube speaker was this: Say you get super mad at a friend after hearing about something they did. That goddamn, no good, piece of.. but wait, you find out that the information isn’t accurate. They’re completely innocent - no harm, no foul. Does the anger just disappear? Not at all. It remains and you may even find yourself trying to justify why you’re angry. Well still, they shouldn't have... I mention this because a big part of this situation is anger, and to a lesser degree fear and worry. The relief I felt when she turned out alright was like using a gasoline soaked rag on a grease fire. Sure it might have helped a little in the beginning, but actually made it a lot worse. I felt like a fool, which makes anger even more tempting.

Nutella Donuts, Anyone?
I’m surfing reddit, angry. I can feel what’s happening. I keep seeing funny things, or things that she would like, but I don’t want to laugh or be light hearted. I’m mad, damn it! After a couple more quick posts, I’m calm again, and fairly collected. Now I know what strategy I’ll be using next time.**

We eat these meat buns that she bought while she had disappeared, and take the tram back to Luke’s. We eat an actual meal of Japanese curry, then take a nap. Tonight is Elvis’ birthday, and we’re heading to this high-end bar that’s 55 floors up the 2nd tallest building in Melbourne.

Shimou had also bought a cake and candles, which are lit, blown out, and consumed at Elvis’ apartment with his live-in girlfriend, Claire. You may remember them from Day 132, and Puffing Billy. Off to the sky lounge!

A featured stairway in Crown
It’s about a block from their apartment, and doesn’t make reservations. We buzz into the building, tell the front desk that we would like a table for 5, and he summons the elevator when it’s our time. There is no button for the elevator, only a remote that he controls. You can feel your ears pop more than once when flying up to the 55th floor.

Lui bar (Vue de Monde) has a spectacular view of the city, and is priced to match. It feels like the place you’d go to really impress a girl, despite being way outside your budget. It’s made all the more enjoyable since I’ve been used to living in relative dumps since this trip began. Then again, it’s not like I was a rockstar in Canada.

We enjoy our drinks, the view, and nutella doughnuts.*** One thing I found weird was the men’s washroom. Massive door, single sink with one stream of water (nice looking, but not functional), and there were three urinals… that faced one another. Imagine a pillar that goes up to a normal man’s chest with three recesses into it, each containing a urinal. If they’re all in use, you’re standing, dick in hand, with two other guys doing the same thing, facing each other. It’s some sort of weird dick Mexican standoff.

Makes me think of this terrible bar in my home town.
After the bar, I’m wiped, but they want to check out the casino. It’s my last saturday here and we haven’t gone out at all. Fight the fatigue, and surrender to the casino.  Elvis tells me that it’s the biggest casino in the southern hemisphere, and that you can occasionally find celebrities wandering around. Looking around, I don’t understand why everyone dresses to the nines in a casino.

Didn't spend much time here
Around 2am, we say goodbye to Elvis and Claire, thanking them for the good time and that I hope to meet them again at some point in the future. The cabby must have been pulling a long shift because his scent gave it away. Luke’s face was priceless.

Editing Music: Minor Swing - Django Reinhardt

*sketchy alley off of a side street, not that much foot traffic, sketchy woman day drinking from a paper bag, etc.
**Alternatively, sticking with the emotional turmoil and letting it fully ride out would be the more difficult route, but I’ll be damned if I do that in a goddamn McDonald's while hearing young couples gossip about some girl they know
***They were like timbits/donut holes filled with gooey, melted nutella

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