Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Chasing Ghosts Backward In Time

In the last few weeks, it seems, I have been chasing a ghost backwards in time.

In Melbourne, nine years ago we were close. "Intense" was her word for that state.

Three years ago, before and after, we were planets apart in every sense. "Alienated" is my word for that state.

Two weeks ago I found myself unexpectedly in London - so close, I presume, yet so far.

It is with a certain symmetry that I now find myself in Melbourne again working for the same customer I was nine years ago when we first met - so far, yet so far.

It is strange to be in this city again.

It seems my intangible memories have stubbornly outlived many of the tangibles.

The phone booth on Grattan - gone. Only a concrete slab remains. The Thai restaurant, the milk bars and mini-golf on Swanston - gone. Ruby Red's in Drewery Lane - gone. Barfly's on Bourke - gone. Caterina's on Queen - not gone exactly, but shut.

The intimacy we once shared faded long ago. Now the spaces and places we shared are fading too: renovated, removed, replaced.

However, the delightful Cafe Italia is still there. As I dined there the other evening, I looked across at the table we sat one Saturday so long ago. How strangely appropriate that a reminder of that melancholy evening should remain so visibly etched in the present.

The ghost has moved on and the city, sensibly, moves on too - in its own way, it forgets.

Yet, I remember.