Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daughter, Music, Ghosts & Souls

A church in Reykjavík, Iceland, with uncushioned pews and people standing in the aisles. The music had become applause had become blurred voices shufting winter coats scuffed shoefalls as the audience changed shift. I did not stay. 

A town on the other side of Glasgow, Scotland, but the supporting act was not who I thought it was. I did not buy tickets. 

The Corner Hotel, Richmond, on a Tuesday night. Some threshold has been crossed and now going to a gig is an ordeal. I'm tired, it's late, I don't want to wait stand be crowded make the long trip home. But I do. 

Daughter played an extraordinary set, one of the best shows I've seen a long time. Summoned back for an encore they hadn't planned to play, they kept a crowd silent, attentive, devoted. 

The skeleton is designed to drink music. I tilted my head and stretched my throat, and the beating heart of every song was played out in my breastbone. The heart cannot help but beat in time. 

She sang,

"I want you so much"

And the hanging guitar dropped out of hearing as she sang,

"But I hate you guts."

And we heard ourselves sing those words, alone and as a crowd, and a self-conscious laugh tremored across the room. In that moment, the number of people present had doubled, as before each of us stood the spectre of the one who had rent us asunder. 

You were my ghost, standing among so many ghosts. But this song is years too late. There are no scars I bear that you can lay claim to; to survive you, I had to change my shape. A shape I chose. 

When you are jostled to the surface of my thoughts, it is with affectionate exasperation I hold you. I forgave myself long ago. 

Music, this music, has power over space. Instead of watching my heart from the outside, the music sat me well inside, and this unpredictable meaty box became a grand ballroom by vaulted chambers with tiled floors and ornately-framed mirrors. The candle chandeliers are unlit, covered, curtains and veils and shadows, and there is naught but to watch ribbons of pale green music thread through these cavernous spaces, filling each room with exquisite emptiness. 

She sang,

"If you're in love you're the lucky ones..."

I stepped out into car lights, street lights and a brash moon. A train takes me to another train and I go home. 

To you.

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Starbucks Throwback Machine

I've time to spend before an appointment, cannot remember which of the cafés around don't do annoyingly bitter chai lattés and without feeling to much guilt head to the nearest Starbucks. They are globally reliable in the chai latté department, which I have researched and tested myself. 

It's Melbourne. It's winter. 

And as soon as I walk through those doors the smell of hot milk and waiting coffee,  and barista patter and easy music echoing from tiles and couches, these things dive into my memories and I'm standing in New York, Krakow, Prague, Nuremberg, Manchester, Glasgow, Inverness. I'm standing in transit lounges in countries I never properly entered. I'm standing in a country that is not my home. 

Newness is one of the biggest motivators for travel.  Learn. Experience. Try. This can be fatiguing, day after day. Sometimes you don't want an adventure; sometimes you just want a cup of tea. 

An evil corporate hegemony it may be, but a familiar sanctuary when nothing else is, it also is. 

That brief nostalgic thrill made my heart skip. A remembered swell of relief on entering. The smallest and briefest of time machines.