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Far from Perfect, Thankfully

I sat at Melbourne Airport and watched the wind howl at high speeds. The windsock is staying at a consistent 90 degrees from its pole. I’m a nervous flyer anyway with a vivid imagination, so did all I could to take my mind off the thought of turbulence that I knew would make me lose my lunch. Bit my nails, ate my body weight in chocolate and played a lively game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with the kid.

This all came after my planned flight at 6.15am the previous morning was cancelled with less than 12 hours’ notice with no real explanation, on my birthday (this is where you feel sorry for me). This meant that all the plans I had made including lifts from the airport, spending my birthday with my extended family and having two days at home to prepare for the kid to head back to school had totally gone down the toilet.

After the frantic ring around to cancel appointments, lifts, deliveries and a bit of venting to the family, I took a deep breath. There really are worse places to be stuck on your birthday than Melbourne. Having just spent a jam-packed week in one of my favourite cities, what was two more days. We then settled in to watch the original Footloose on TV.

The week began with the classic Melbourne experience. Staying at Rydges in the city, the perfect base for the best the city has to offer - China Town, Queen Victoria Markets, Bourke Street Mall and, of course, the Theatre district.

When I was eight, my mum took me to see the live stage version of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I loved it. The current incarnation was playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre and the temptation to continue the family tradition was too strong. We dressed for the theatre, as you should. The kid wore this stunning floor-length black and red dress and got lots of smiles as she held one side of her dress up with her hand as she made her way up the stairs, only to reveal her favourite black boots, which she assures me go with everything she owns.

I was prepared to leave at any time in case she wasn’t enjoying it, but I need not have worried. Her wide eyes were transfixed on the stage from the first note. She danced and clapped loudly after every song. She told me at the intermission that her favourite was Magenta. The whole cast was sensational but huge props Shane Jacobson, who played the narrator and did the whole thing with a fairly substantial injury. He was nice enough to stop and talk to the kid at the stage door after the show despite being surrounded by fans and being on crutches. What a pro.

We walked the streets of the city the next day. It’s odd how quiet the streets are on a Sunday morning in Melbourne. Given how cold it was, it was sad to see at least eight homeless people within the first couple of minutes of our walk. One who struck me particularly was a woman sleeping with her dog wrapped tightly in blankets and a swag.

I realised that if you see it all the time you become a little detached. Melbourne is no different than any other city, but I saw one man on his phone, so willfully blind that he seemed oblivious to the fact that there was a human being in there. He missed stepping on her head by less than an inch as he strode down Bourke Street. We placed some money in a tin close to her and continued on our way.

Here I was at what should have been the end of a culture filled trip to Melbourne. It was the eve of my 44th birthday. I was sleeping somewhere warm; I have a beautiful child who was safe and healthy. A family who loves me waiting at home, amazing friends close by who, at short notice, were happy to drop everything to get me a cake and spend my birthday with me and Kevin Bacon was on the TV!

I’m a lucky girl/middle-aged woman. The flight being cancellation wasn’t ideal, but the best stories never start with things going perfectly to plan, do they?

Pictured top: Yarra River, Melbourne

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