I’ve been here a week. Other than go to the Melbourne Aquarium, I haven’t done any tourist activities. I’ve done quite a bit of shopping mostly for myself, just daily necessities, nothing exciting.
It’s strange; I feel like a tourist and yet I don’t. I don’t feel jet-lagged or culture-shocked. Melbourne is a big city with a diverse population. It’s not so different from Miami in that sense, but habits and the daily routine are different. It smells differently too, of heat and sweat. People walk everywhere and cooling is not common even in restaurants. That part is not so pleasant.
The strangest thing is being dependent on someone else. I don’t know where anything is or how to get anywhere. The streets here all have names, which tells me nothing about where anything is. I could use a map of this house too.
Some things feel familiar, but then something happens to remind me that I am a guest. I ask for permission and instructions to use things like the microwave and washing machine. I don’t know where the glasses go or where the paper towels are stored. The pantry is a maze of different shapes, colors, and foreign labels. I can’t do things the way I would in my own home. Everything is different in that sense – the products, where and how things are organized and stored, how things function, and the daily routine. I clean things and then put them back wrong. This isn’t all an Aussie thing, of course; it’s just my unfamiliarity. Some of it is just my way and Theo’s way, my idiosyncrasies and his, and this is his house.
The backyard feels like a dangerous, uncharted jungle. I’m scared to go there where the barbecue and killer spiders live. I panic for a moment every time I feel something brush against my skin. I mercilessly killed a mosquito in the bathroom earlier this week. I’m sure it was no ordinary mosquito. And I’m always hot. It’s so damn hot.
In general though, I’m enjoying my time here. The homes are charming, the people are friendly, and the food is amazing. My first week has been very pleasant and I’m looking forward to a whole lot more.
About the image: From the 1987 paperback front cover of “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein.