Friday night hit me like a brick.
After work, I zombie walked to the apartment with my brain hinting that it needed a break. Going full-tilt since I landed, my body, mind and soul were screaming for a day in the dark watching movies/shows.
But, fortune favors the bold, and with an Australian Football League game on the docket for Saturday and a trip to the Thousand Steps in the Dandenong Ranges on Sunday — I was ready for another full weekend.
I woke up to creaking.
As my mind caught up and reminded me that I wasn’t indeed on a ship, I strolled out of my bedroom to look out the window and was met a smattering of rain, with the buildings around me suffused with fog.
The clouds above raced by at a clip I hadn’t seen outside of hurricane season in Florida.
As another low creak sounded, it hit me.
“I’m definitely swaying.” I said to no one. (I need to get a cactus or something so my musings can at least have some direction)
On the 27th floor of a massive building, I was experiencing the fun movement that comes with being in a skyscraper in high winds — fortunately this is exactly what is supposed to happen and doesn’t indicate any structural problems, but still, a very odd feeling.
Checking weather.com, I saw the gale & thunderstorm warnings and was greeted by another warning that could only come from Australia. Emblazoned in red across the top of the screen was a ‘SHEEP FARMERS WARNING,’ alerting farmers that their sheep were in danger of being blown away or caught in dangerous storms.
“Great day for a footy match.” I said to my unpurchased cactus.
Nevertheless, part of any sporting event is braving the elements to see it.
I threw on an excellent travel coat my mom bought me for my birthday and forged into the sheep snatching wind. Note: I swore that I definitely didn’t need the coat and I would be fine. Thanks mom, you still dress me better than I dress myself.
That’s when the rain started.
Torrential doesn’t do it justice. Nor do buckets, cats and dogs, or men. Uninterrupted curtains pounded from the sky.
The coat held and I made my way to the information center in Federation Square to meet Andrew, a coworker/friend who graciously offered to introduce me to the game where his beloved Brisbane Lions would take on the Richmond Tigers (Richmond being a neighborhood of Melbourne).
When he arrived, I nervously asked, “So, do they, uh…play in this?”
Giving me a laugh and nod, Andrew explained that it would take a lot more than a little rain and wind to stop Australian Football. With that, we walked down the Yara to the famous Melbourne Cricket Grounds.
For the uninitiated, Australian Football, or ‘footy’, is played on a massive circle. Players advance the ball with precision kicks to forward teammates who have the chance to catch the ball. If within striking distance, a player can kick the ball towards goal. If it sails through the narrow uprights, it’s six points — if it only makes it through the wide uprights, it’s one point.
I know it sounds complex, but do yourself a favor and watch a tutorial and some highlights on Youtube. Few rules and whistles mean an intuitive game that has a constant flow like soccer. Combine that with the strength needed to fend off, or make, heavy tackles, constant running, and leaping to make a catch (or ‘Mark’ as it’s called) — I started to think these might be the most fit athletes in the world (next to hockey).
Richmond made it easy to get a handle on the game, with the toothless Brisbane team putting up little fight. (Andrew assured me they were mere years away from competitiveness. Competitiveness with what, I’m not so sure.)
Dustin Martin, last year’s MVP, put on a clinic, with a 5 goal performance. And in typical Melbourne fashion, by the second half, we had sun.
Final Score: Richmond 110 – Brisbane 17
We followed the match with some great Chinatown Dim sum (really, some of the best Chinese I’ve had outside of China) and dessert.
I rolled on home happy and full.
On Sunday, more rain and wind slammed the city — the Dandenongs would have to wait.
I secretly thanked whatever wind patterns and evaporation granted me the day because did I ever need it. Were it a sunny day, I would have struggled to motivate myself. My brain had had enough and, in the end, the glorious lure of streaming entertainment was within my grasp.
But. There was one thing I had to do.
Something I truly hate.
Anywhere in the world, it’s the same result. As I got nearer my throat got dry and my palms and back started to sweat. The steady stream of people heading in the same direction made my chest get tight and my breath shorten.
It had to be done. I had to go to a mall.
With the press of the Fez Medina sans culture and good food, I mashed my way through throngs of shoppers from every part of the world — many of whom had decided it was the perfect place to let their sticky, screaming children run wild.
I sped through this nightmare with a singular purpose. Jeans. And in that regard I was successful, finding a pair that neither looked painted on, nor like it would tear when coming in contact with a twig.
As soon as my receipt was printed I was out the door, out of the mall and back to the apartment.
Deciding not to write, look at work emails, read or leave the place for the rest of the day, I opened up my laptop and drifted away into the world of Netflix.
- While my birthday coat that saved my body was mentioned. I’d be remiss not to mention the gifts that have had equal impact on my mind and soul. The Nintendo Switch given to me by Ari has saved my mind (I need my games), while the gift from my father, received today, of a 1-year sponsorship of an ancient Red River Gum Tree, known as the Lion’s Head Tree, right here in the Royal Botanical Gardens, has done a lot to boost my spirit. (I intend to go and take some good pics of my B-day tree) — Thank you all!
- Because of where I am and space time, my true birthday will fall on April 19th this year (born 10:20AM EST on April 18 translates to 12:20 AM Melbourne time on April 19th)
Note: This weekend I am doing a Great Ocean Road drive with an overnight in the Grampians National Park, followed by some hiking until late Sunday. There will probably be two posts with a lot of pictures coming towards the middle of next week.