Essay // A Serenade in My City

street art

THE TOWN IN WHICH I wasn’t born, the town in which I grow. The town in which I go exploring, the town in which I show to all. Windsor, the town in which I live.

There are places I remember, or, rather, that I store away for future remembrance. Places of familiarity, cultivated, romanticised, true? The antique shop on Chapel, where, confused and a little infused by the thickening, chuckling air, you pay happily for cocktail shakers priced at three dollars, but she’ll give it to you for five. Only as you walk further down the street, past the other op-shops, and as you hover on a corner outside a glitteringly full-bodied pub, only then do you realise you’ve been taken for a fool and a ride. Taken in the flood, perhaps, carried away and drown-ed.

Then there is the other one, the op-shop down the road, where another strange lady in another strange fog — not of the same source, they say — sells you shavers of old, trolls under woods and bridges, and measuring sticks o’ pink.

Walk on, to the left, crossing at the grocery shop. And there, the building repurposed, lost to its former function, its halls empty and windows boarded and bare, there is the old department store that still proclaims its wares. Hidden rhyme to long-lost time. Back we go, down the measure to the past, where a different woman than I or you strides with purpose down the walls, paces the boards, gentle, oriental umbrella in hand.

Bright juices and greasy foods in windows that shine. Herbs in pots, tall, overgrown, wild, trapped in their greenhouse cafe.

Here we take a small detour, down a street less known. It is the tyranny of distance that we seek, the furthest trip to another world, somewhere in Miami perhaps, or far-flung Mexico. Sweet music, dj obscura, drifts around the room in whirlpools powered like a dam by the rotating fans above, a touch of Singaporean glamour or rustic Australian ‘charm’? Drinks, they’re cheap, beers brought to you. Above, hanging there, the remnants of a fuselage.

But no. That part wasn’t true.

Here now, back to the street where we don’t live, the one down which we traversed before the detour that took us willowing and wandering through the tortures of a mind. We had supped and sweated in the tropical heat.

Turn back. Take me home. Upwards, not upwards, but away from the Chapel, and on to the winnowing alley, blue and grey, spotted like a dog, portrait frames on a midnight wall. Way in; way out. Look this way. Walk this way, hand in hand. Back to the back door, the one from which we sprung at first, and through it with the correct key, of course, into the house where we live. It’s warm inside, although we don’t have a fire in the hearth or onions on the stove, making our eyes cry as our chests say, ‘no.’

A shelf for shoes, and all in order, and key (correct of course) back in the bowl by the bright red door.

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