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  • madeline mcfarlane

on the streets

"Where the hell do I get scotch tape?"

Jay told me two days ago that I should post my love letter to Melbourne in Hosier Lane. But I woke up tired, so riddled with excitement to get on the streets that I just had to leave early. So consequently, I’m unprepared and now stand in QV searching for scotch tape. Admittedly I am a little stressed, “do scissors set off store alarms? what if they think I‘m using it as a weapon, people here would do that.” The scissors were fine, but of course, knowing my luck they had run out of packing tape. Forced to settle for the regular kind I made my way to Hosier Lane.

False optimism is settling in my heart. The Thursday morning blue skies and warm breeze making me feel like the weather won‘t be so bad. The streets are almost empty, save for the working man in his dark blue suit shuffling to the office. Likely late but holding a cup of coffee in one hand. So many dark eyes haunt these streets. Nobody believes there’s anything to believe in. All of them walk like zombies; thinking their lives ended long before they hit middle age.

Now as I reach Hosier the bird calls mingle with the slurred speech of the city's addicts as they stumble down the cobbled path, performing their dance with a background of quiet jazz flowing from my headphones. I spend a moment just admiring the mural for Jay, then careful to make sure I don’t cover any important messages I choose my place on the wall. Wanting to join the scribbles of thanks I quickly add something: thank you Jay for inspiring me.

I get to work, clumsily cutting strips of tape to stick to the wall, grunting every so often as the wind blows them into the wall or tangling in my fingers, making the strip useless. Some old ladies smile at me as they pass, while high school students stare confusingly. It takes a while to secure my letter (blame the lack of a thick tape), but it’s worth it. I step back with pride, a wide smile on my face. My work is on the wall for as long as the artists decide they like the mural and the businesses and addicts believe I'm not intruding their precious space. There's freedom in the street that I can’t describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and now I’m finally feeling it.

And so, I do it again. This time a poem. I post it on Degraves Street as an ode to this place as my new home base, maybe you'll see it one day.

You posting a poem?” says a stranger.

I turn around to smile, “yeah.”

Cool,” and he's gone.

A quick snap of a photo and I’m gone. I guess my tape skills are improving, if that's such a thing. Not wanting to leave the city just yet I settle in my favourite cafe and order the same thing as I always do, even I can admit routine is good sometimes. And as I leave Degraves to visit the library the street darkens in mere minutes, once again Melbourne shows her true colours as the sky moves from summer to winter in an instant. From my rain forced shelter on the state library steps I watch a tense game of chess between two old friends. Unbothered by the rain one bends down and moves the rook to F3, a cigarette hanging so loose in his mouth I fear it may fall. His friend is even more interesting; hands like a giant- making his litre sized bottle of coke look like a small portion for one person. No, I can’t judge though. I suppose he needs the calories to keep his fingers from fading to bone.

I realise I want to stay here forever. In the rain and in Melbourne on a Thursday morning where most on the streets have a mission for the day, or a story of which they’re hoping to try and live to fill the page.

I'm going to keep posting my words on the walls, and keep writing about strangers as I sit on wet ground, if only to revive the part of my soul that the monotony of the past six years killed. Pieces of me on display like a museum somehow make me feel freer than turning eighteen. Now that I've got a taste I feel like an addict. I’m always gonna be hungry now. Hungry to write and write and live and write about it all over again. "I think it might be worth getting a typewriter.”

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