This is a piece i wrote last night while listening to angsty music and generally hating the Navy. If you don't get it catch a train to ST James, walk past the Barracks, through the Domain, down past Boy Charleton Pool and into Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. Then you'll understand. I terrorise the Medical Personnel department tomorrow so hopefully this doesn't end here.
Twenty steps up. Twenty steps. Three. Two. One. Concrete landing. Oxygen. No stale cigarette smell. Greenery. Light. More stairs. Just four. Large. Off-white. And concrete. Stop. Lights. Road. Green. Walk. Deep tan walls. Bus stop. Traffic honks. Look up. Park. Fountain. Car park. Still pretty. Can you smell the sea yet?
Round a corner. Glimpses of blue. Just a second and then gone again. Enter the park. Follow the path, stay off the grass. Don’t ignore the signs! Stay off the grass! Through the over-hanging trees. Watch out for the cyclists. Jerk! Scowl then continue. Pass the schoolgirls having lunch in the park. Café. Actually I am a bit hungry. Fight it. Keep walking. Back out onto the road. Look up. Art Gallery. What does that banner say? Ah, stuff it. Cross the road. Back turned to the gallery.
Stick to the road. Over the expressway and onto the gate. From here you can see the baths. Finally I see ocean. The marina is full today! Little rich men’s cruisers are not my cup of tea. Continue. Trees grow thicker. Someone’s playing loud music down in the hall. Keep walking. Get out of the way for joggers. This footpath isn’t wide enough for the both of us lady. I guess I’ll go on the road then. Watch out for the bus. Doesn’t matter because he stops at that last bus stop anyway. The driver shuts the doors and goes to sleep. Nice place for it buddy.
Pass the oversized trees. Small placards at their feet tell me they’re Morton Bay Figs. Interesting. Let’s continue. Crossroads. Left leads up. Right leads down. Choose right. Pass the pool. Nice day for a swim. Too bad I didn’t bring my swimmers. The first sign of what I’m looking for. Walk a little faster. Pass a boulder. Now who hasn’t camped out there? I’ve done it twice. Once for a picture, one to just take in the view. But not today. Today I’m passing through. I’ll be back little boulder; just like the other 30 times I’ve done this exact walk.
Reach the hill. View obscured for a second by bushes. Stop and lean up against a staircase behind the pool. Push a branch out of my way. I can’t read that number yet. Maybe when I get around to the other side. Not that it matters. I know each by sight.
Reach the base of the slope where the handrail ends. Nothing here but the path, grass and harbour. Just the way I like it. Nothing to kill the view. Take a step closer. Feel the breeze. Hear the sound of the waves splashing on the small rock walls that fall away into sea. The sunshine on the silver. The gleam hurts my eyes but I can’t look away. Enticed. Take a breath. Breathe it in. Remember when, just for that small amount of time, you were up there. Holding the hot rails. Climbing the stairs. Navigating the halls and narrow spaces. Remember how it felt like home. How can you make them know it felt like home? How desperately you want to go home.
Bite your lip. Cheer up because life isn’t over yet. Another deep breath. A small smile. Share a look with a passing jogger. She looks at them the same way you do. Do you think she’s one of them? Or maybe like you? Revelling in what you can get. Ignore the passers-by. Draw your eyes once again to them. Movement on the deck. Cleaning. Grin. Don’t envy them for that. Glance at watch. 1510. You have to go. You’re already late. It’s what you get for getting off the train one station early just for that moment of… Well? What is it? Sanity? Peace? Self-torture? A mix of all maybe. So close and yet so far. One hand reaches out for them but you pull it back. Look but don’t touch. Can never really touch. Sigh. Draw eyes to the ground. Keep walking. You’ll be back soon. As with every other time. You’re fated to return. Forever...