It’s Tuesday evening and I’ve just arrived back from a really terrific afternoon stroll. I finished work early today (after an early start), and not wishing to waste the daylight, donned my track pants and headed off down the street for a walk around the neighbourhood of indetermine length and indetermine direction.
Fairly quickly I ended up at the Surry Hills Mall (formerly Redfern Mall, and sometimes known locally as the “Methadone Mall”). Standing in a queue at Coles with just a few bottles of mineral water, wondering to myself, “how did I get here?”, I caught the attention of someone I actually needed to talk to about work. To my relief I was able to “seal the deal” while maintaining my place in the queue for what was possibly the slowest checkout operator in the world. And checkout operation is something I can speak with authority aboutas I worked for Coles for a while back in the 80s, a fact I reflected upon with a colleague earlier today at work. She had also been a high school checkout operator and we both bemoaned the fact that checkout operators are now so much slower thanks to scanning technology.
Upon arriving back home I had a few things to do before heading off for my “real” afternoon walk, though still unsure if it was to be a stroll around the streets of the neighbourhood or a “walk” in Moore Park.
After crossing South Dowling Street, I looked back to a spectacular sunset and settled down for a while to watch the world go by. In just five minutes, I solved all of the world’s problems and some of my own personal dilemmas as random thoughts entered my mind. I also noticed how amazing planes are (no I did not smoke a joint before leaving home) and that in the afternoon people “stroll”, whereas in the morning people “walk”. It was then I realised that the purpose of this walk was a “stroll” and that on an existential level, I’m probably one of life’s “strollers”.
So I began my stroll, noticing all sorts of things. Noticing almost all of of the afternoon dog walkers had those awful little yappy dogs. Noticing those walking with Ipods were also those most likely to avoid eye contact. Noticing how beautiful the sunset still was against the backdrop of the city. And noticing how some of the exercise equipment in Moore Park resembled rather exotic flowers. Seriously…
As I wandered towards Taylor Square, I looked in the windows of the Flinders Street furniture stores noticing that minimalism still rules. I also noticed the Flinders Hotel (the site of many an interesting adventure in my early days in Sydney) had re-opened with the open-window look that’s become popular on Oxford Street (think Columbian, think Oxford) unlike ten years ago when it was dark and dingey.
Heading back towards home, I read window menus from eateries like Bistrode, Il Baretto (both look good) and the recently refurbished Arts & Community Club (formerly the Labor Club). Club membership is now $10, but once you join, you get $10 back on your next meal and they have a terrific Tapas & Wine deal for $32.00. It was really great to observe the late afternoon informality of the staff in these restaurants as they joked ahead of the evening onslaught.
The stroll probably only lasted forty-five minutes or so, but in that time I had a chance to observe some of the detail of life in my neighbourhood and to think about some of the issues I face in life. Here’s to afternoon strolls!