Hayden and I go to our favourite delicious Indian takeaway on Palmer Street. While we're waiting for our food, we go for a short stroll along Ross Creek past the maritime museum. As we look up and down the banks, I feel the sea breeze on my bare arms and I see the lights gently twinkling on the other side and the boats bobbing peacefully on their moorings. We pick up our Indian (one butter chicken and rice to share, one garlic naan and one sweet naan), and take it home. All is right with the world.
Later, we book our flights to Melbourne for Drue and Sarah’s wedding in November. Yay! We’re going to Melbourne! On holiday!
I wake up already thinking about Melbourne. I’m slightly anxious. We haven’t been back since we left nearly two years ago. I’m looking forward to the wedding of course, but we’ll have a whole week to hang out beforehand. What are we going to do with that?
I spend the morning looking at accommodation options and trying to imagine what we might possibly do after we’ve had a cup of $2.80 coffee (is it possible that it’s still only $2.80?) and about five rolls each of sushi.
After dinner, I declare my wish that Townsville had a Borders or any bookshop that was open late. I haven’t pronounced this wish out loud for ages (it was probably a year ago that I gave up on this impossibility). My absolute favourite thing to do in Melbourne was to go browsing in bookshops after dinner. I’ve loved doing that ever since I first moved to Melbourne in 1999 when it struck me as the height of civility, and the effect hasn’t worn off yet. My favourite was to go browsing in Borders and in Readings in Lygon Street, then afterwards to Trotters or Brunetti's for delicious pastries.
I ask Hayden if he wants to come for a walk to have some dessert? He looks at me warily. This is highly irregular. All restaurants and cafes in Townsville close their kitchens at 9pm sharp. In Townsville, if you’re going to the 7:30 movie you have to make sure to have some dinner first. It is 8:55pm … but I convince him to chance it. We have a nice walk along the strand and when we reach C Bar, they allow us to sit outside and have a milkshake, a cup of tea and a slice of cheesecake. I feel lucky.
But while we’re sitting there, the cafe staff begin packing away all the chairs and tables from around us. They take the potted palm trees inside. They take down the guard railings and we are left feeling quite exposed, our little table alone in a sea of emptiness and the waitresses all standing around staring at us, willing us with their eyes to finish our cake so that they can go home. The cake isn’t that good so we leave half of it behind and let the waitresses off the hook.
Wake up. Mmm, wouldn’t it be nice to have a big Melbourne-style breakfast? You can get a good Sunday breakfast at The Balcony. (Actually it was breakfast at The Balcony on our recon trip two years ago that made me decide that I could live in Townsville after all). I decide that that’s exactly what I’m after now. I bundle Hayden into the car, promising that afterwards we can go shopping for his running shorts, and we drive into town. The nice lady at the Balcony’s front counter tells us that she can’t give us a table straight away, there’s a twenty minute wait. Not because the café is full - I can see empty tables behind her - but because they don’t have enough staff on today. Ok. I’m not daunted. But it’s not like we can just go to the café next door. There is only the one café serving breakfast.
So I go and look in a dress shop filled with synthetic clothes I don’t like. Clothes shopping in Townsville is very easy on your purse. On the whole the clothes are cheap and nasty, and no-one minds at all if you just wear shorts and thongs and the same five-year-old t-shirt. Sometimes when I see little kids at the beach I tell them, I was wearing this shirt before you were even born.
The big rugby league game is on this afternoon. It’s a preliminary final, and the North Queensland Cowboys are in with a chance (you should have seen the locals in the sports store this morning. They couldn’t get their hands on enough cowboy hats, cowboys jerseys, cowboys thongs etc). The pub is going to be full of big angry red-faced blokes. Instead of playing pool, like I had been thinking about, we make plans to go and watch the game at Rob’s place. We ask him if he wants us to bring some sausages? He says no, he’s already got some thawing in the sink.
I'll never stop being a Melbourne girl transplanted, but ... It’s Townsville. I’ve gotta go with it.