I have been very close to a beautiful lady for over a decade that I am struggling to say goodbye. She’s graceful, strong, and one of many moods. She can also be a little dirty, but I think that’s why we love each other so.
How do you break up with someone you’re still madly in love with? “It’s not you,” I try rehearsing as I walk the familiar streets I have walked so many times. The long shadows and the crisp air as I watch humans and dogs frolic on the oval as I pass signal the start of Autumn. A somewhat fitting time as the season changes to end a relationship. “It’s me. It’s been a while and I just need to do something different.” What a weak excuse. I’m bad at breakups.
The glorious woman I speak of is my suburb, St Kilda. She is in my bones and knows me intimately. She has always looked after me and been a consistent compass that has guided me through a significant part of my life. She has seen me at my best and my worst. I can say the same for her.
I feel like I am losing a little part of me. There are pieces of me all around this seaside suburb; I have lived many lives here. I see teenage Celia emerging from a gig at the majestic Espy as the sun was rising, wondering how time can move so fast, is it really 6 am? I see Celia the bride dancing barefoot in the 43-degree heat down at St Kilda Marina surrounded by the ones she loves best. And I see the everyday Celia, the one who has loved, laughed, hugged and cried here; and fallen asleep on the tram at the end of Acland Street too many times to count.
We’re leaving St Kilda soon. I am excited about the next adventure. But I am also incredibly sad. There is a tug of war in my heart, part of me that wants to stay, but there is also a restlessness somewhere near the left ventricle that has other ideas. I’m comforted by the fact that there was life in St Kilda before I arrived, and it will go on without me.
I will miss just the small everyday things that made up a happy time here. So mundane by themselves, but together form a beautiful scrapbook of memories in my mind. I have my favourite walking routes, via the clackety clack of Luna Park’s Scenic Railway, past gorgeous art deco front gardens, through little alleyways where junkies say hello and into my local café and watering holes where my friends inside don’t even need to ask me what my order is anymore. Why would you even leave? It’s a nice feeling knowing you belong somewhere, and that things are familiar. But after a period of time, if nothing really changes, are you doing life right?
I think it’s the bay that I will miss the most. It’s a constant backdrop to many of my St Kilda memories. How can anything top walking along the beach on a Sunday morning before anyone else is awake, right along St Kilda Esplanade, where Paul Kelly famously sang the palm trees have it hard. I’d give you all of Sydney Harbour too.
Don’t get me wrong, I have also experienced the other side of my suburb. The people who like to urinate/have sex/pass out on drugs in my driveway have been numerous. The ice addict who laughs like a joker every hour or so in the apartment block next door is unsettling, yet I have been priced out of buying property here. Day-trippers who leave us souvenirs of rubbish. I have also gotten into a real bad habit of ordering gelati online to be home delivered when it would take me two minutes to walk to the goddamn shop.
I once spent a monthly paycheck on seafood down at the Stokehouse, and as I walked home, full of French champagne and oysters, a wild-haired woman, whose weather-worn and drugged eyes made it hard to tell her age came at me, screaming something so loudly about heroin and brandishing a tiny spoon. Since that evening I see her all the time, usually, she’s much less animated, sitting on a bench near the Vineyard, minding her own business just mumbling to herself. I nod to her as I pass, a kindred spirit. If you swap the gelati for heroin, she’s just like me, just happy to have found a place to call home. I will miss her too.
As the storms roll in, as the sun rises and sets, St Kilda has shown me her many moods. She’s taught me that it’s ok to be bright and sunny one day, filled with laughter and champagne and friends, then rumbly, dirty and dark the next. I think this is what I will miss the most. St Kilda is unashamedly beautiful and ugly at the same time. She’s not perfect and never claims to be and doesn’t care what people think of her. I hope I can take some of that self-assuredness with me on my next adventure.
St Kilda, I love you and thank you for all the love you gave me all these years. Even if you don’t want to hear from me after I move away, I will always check-in, and visit often. I might find there’s nowhere else better to live than with you. But I guess there’s only one way to know. It’s not you, it’s me.
Here you'll find some unfiltered musings from my brain.
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