Monday, February 13, 2012

The best of all possible worlds

The Builder and I are a little bit Big Smoke-sick at the moment. We've been in Fibrotown three years, and while we love it here, we have a keener sense now of the people and places that we miss than we did just after we moved. The thrill of the new has worn off and the pall of the old is lifting. Things that drove us mad in the Big Smoke before we left have taken on the glow of nostalgia. "Remember how we used to have to fight for a parking space?" "Ha, that was funny!"

On the weekend, we found ourselves in the Big Smoke. It really is a beautiful city. When you go as a visitor, you tend to take the best of the city and suck it dry. We took the boys to the Picasso exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

With one boy each firmly in hand, we viewed 150 works by an acknowledged master. I had Mr5, so my trip through the gallery was somewhat faster than The Builder's. I had time to take in not only the works of Picasso, but the First Aid station, the toilets (three times), the gallery shop (twice), the foyer (twice) and even an unused storeroom downstairs and the staff-only lift. You get to see a different side to a gallery when you go where the small people go.

After our gallery exploration, we found ourselves, as you do, in the Botanic Gardens. The boys ran down the paths like, well, like little boys released from the confines of an art gallery. I wandered along behind, taking note of all the people (okay, young people) lying around on the grass in various stages of undress, soaking up the (rare) sunshine, and doing not much in particular.

"Remember when you had that much time?" I asked The Builder. He agreed that he could dredge a memory like that from the dark recesses of his mind.

I remember when I first moved to the Big Smoke. Back when I was 17 and Mum and Dad installed me in a Women's Hostel in the inner city with 51 other girls aged 17-20. We would often find ourselves in the Bot Gards on the weekends. Many of us were from the country, and it was the biggest expanse of green we could find. Right on the Harbour, surrounded by high-rise buildings, it was the best of all possible worlds. We'd spend entire days down there, lying around, doing nothing in particular, occasionally getting up to throw a ball or something. So much time.

I'm not sure I appreciated it at the the time, but one of the greatest gifts of youth (alongside beauty, optimism, lack of fear, firm skin, slim thighs and all the other good stuff) is time. Time to do nothing. Time to do everything.

But I didn't have too much time to think about it all yesterday. We only had 11 minutes left on the parking meter and had to visit the new IKEA before we drove back to Fibrotown. In traffic.

What was that I was saying about time?

What do you think is the greatest gift of youth?


  1. Hmm, not sure about this one. I think that everyone has time for what is most important to them. Sometimes what is more important is disguised by what they think they need to be happy. Optimism is probably the greatest gift of youth. Or lack of cynicism. Still being crazy enough to believe you can be whatever you want to be and still have time to lie in the sun. It's a shame people stop believing that.

  2. Hmm - I think you've nailed it Al. I am struggling to think of another major perk of youth other than the ability of my muscles to bounce back more quickly from a hard run. Like the one I did yesterday.

    I expect to be walking funny for the next couple of days now. Would never have happened in my youth!

  3. Ooooooh, I LOVE this post! I can't witness young people being carefree without feeling a pang of 'I wish I'd appreciated it more at the time'. Though I can't help feeling that 5 years from now I'll regret not appreciating life as much as I should. Ah, the wisdom of hindsight!

  4. Great post. And I love the new look!

    I feel silly looking back at my 'youth' at 29, but for me it's the energy I used to have during high school and uni. The boundless energy. Nothing ever seemed too hard!

  5. I think I was a bit of a stresser even way back, but I certainly remember having weekends with no plans. None, just going to the pub for some drinks and lazing around all day Sunday to recuperate, I didn't have to do anything for anyone. Can't imagine what I would do with a totally free weekend now, I would probably be exhausted by the time it got here from having to organise everything first.

  6. Oh Al, how I can identify. we had such similar conversations over the weekend over time.

    And over Christmas we undertook similar trippery - Taronga Zoo - and were amazed at what a very different experience it was with three small people in comparison to loved up couple bliss circa 1995...

  7. Beautiful post. And I agree - time. And lack of guilt, as in, yes, I can sleep in until 11am and I actually don't feel bad about it. I'm wondering if this time and lack of guilt might return in retirement years though? (I hope so, anyway, I think I see it in my parents?)

  8. Beautiful. And yes. Time. The novelty (now) of having nothing planned, nowhere you 'have' to be, whether you like it or not.

    It was wasted on us though, wasn't it?

  9. Lovely post and very true.
    I used to believe bad things only happened to bad people.I found out this is not true. When you are young you think life is fair.

  10. I think you nailed it. Time. I miss having time to do nothing from being young. Summers which meant just hanging out all day. And possibility. Endless possibility.

  11. The lack of responsibility. Sure I stressed about Uni exams, or making it to lectures, or where my next dollar was coming from... but it was all about the moments. Not the future.

    I just floated along. From day to day. (Although back then it might not have felt like it!)

  12. yep - i think you got it....time.... i look back at all those moments doing 'nothing' when now i would love nothing more than all that time again! And don't you wish you could pack a little bit of the city and take it with you too??

  13. Imagination and possibility are the true gifts if youth. The older we get, the more we seem to censor both. x

  14. I'm only starting to appreciate how much time I've had over the years now that the little one has come along, and time seems to a) fly and b) not really be mine anymore. I used to spend so many lazy weekends lying in the sun in the park with friends, with beers, with food, with newspapers. Chatting, catching up on the world. They were some of the best times of my life...

  15. I think we need to take more effort in how we use our time and to make sure we are enjoying what we do. Life is too short, and those youthful memories of a timeless existence should remind us this. Lovely post Al.
    As for the true gifts of youth, definitely imagination, dreams and wonder x

  16. Lack of responsibility is the beauty of youth. You do what you like, to suit yourself. So easy. So blissful. I wish you would call when you come to the Big Smoke! x

  17. When I walk the kids to school every day at around 8.30am (in the English countryside), we pass by a river and there tends to be one or two men there, fishing. When I walk back again in the afternoon to pick the kids up, those men are still there. This truly astounds me. I don't think I'll ever have the time to do that. I don't think I could if I tried anyway. Still... it would be nice to feel you had that kind of time on your hands.

  18. Like you, we've done a Tree Change, but we miss The City sooooo much! In fact, we miss it so much, we're now considering moving from a tiny village of 1500 people to a city of 20 million. (How's that for being sentimental for city life?)
    The funny thing is, my writing productivity has dropped in the country. I suspect it's because it's too quiet. There's no mental stimulation. I miss the creative buzz of the city. Who knew city life could be so inspiring?

  19. I realise Im a bit late here, I just discovered you Allison, and Im cruising through your blog having a read.

    My husband and is desperate to move to the south coast of NSW, Batemans Bay to be exact. We almost sold up last year but the fear of it gripped me and we pullled out. So more than a year later I can't help wondering if I made a big mistake! With 2 kids now at school, Id feel guilty making them start over.

    What are your thoughts on living coastal? I can't seem to find any good advice on a relocation out of the big smoke. We're heading to Batemans Bay this long weekend and I fear the dreams will rise up again and the urge to move will strike!

    Cheers... big fan of your work :)

    1. Hi Rach, great to 'meet' you. Tried to email you, but you don't have an address linked to your blogger account. Want to send me an email at the address up in the top r/h corner (little envelope). I have lots of thoughts. Happy to share them. Would write you a blog post but can give you more detail in an email. Have a great weekend! A


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