It’s mid morning when the wheels of the plane carrying me to Australia touch down in Melbourne. The usual landing announcements are made; stay in your seats with your seat belts fastened, be careful as luggage might have moved, but I’m not really listening. Instead I’m peering out of the window saying to myself “Well, this is it.” After packing up and leaving everything behind in the UK I’m finally here, I’m in Australia!

Melbourne, Australia

Unlike the grumpy bastards who grunt and snarl at people entering the UK, the Australian immigration officer at passport control greets me with a welcoming smile. I hand her my crisp new passport which thus far has just one stamp in it from my recent stop-over in Singapore.

“Welcome back Simon.” She says after quickly scanning my name and inspecting my picture. The exchange is short and sweet, no hard questions, no need for finger prints or steely stares into facial recognition cameras. I make a joke about how I look like I’m wearing lipstick in my passport photo to which she gives it a second look. “Well it works for you love, so no worries eh.” She says as she hands it back to me with a wink.

It’s barely been a year since I first came to Melbourne, and now here I am with two bulging suitcases, a laptop, and no keys. I’m about to put down my preverbal hat and declare this place my home for a while. In many respects this is madness, but life without a little madness, without its moments of abandon, is surely no life at all. I’m not a hobo, I’m not on the run, I’m just a guy making it up as I go along, turning each new page not as a passive reader but as the author.

Okay, I’ll grant you that might sound cheesy, and to write about blank pages and the such is probably a terribly over-used metaphor, but you’ll have to forgive my lack of literary originality in this moment of excitement. I’d love to come up with some insightful and well crafted sentance that would be worthy of reading over and over. Instead all I can liken this feeling to is the way bubbles jump for joy on the surface of a fizzy drink. It’s silly I know, but that’s all I have for you. Right now I’m a soda pop wanderer.

Summer is just beginning in Melbourne and the sky is a beautiful deep blue as I arrive in the city. Being an Englishman I am somewhat prone to obsessing over the weather, a fact that’s hardly surprising when you consider that England spends a great deal of time trapped under skies that have all the vibrance of a parking garage. I’ve come here for all manner of reasons, and not least among them is to escape the dreary English weather.

My friend Phong is waiting at Southern Cross station to meet me. We met earlier in the year through the couchsurfing website when he kindly offered to host me on my first visit to this, Australia’s second city. I’ll be staying with him once again until I can find a place of my own sometime in the new year.

“G’day mate.” He says as he reaches out to help me with my bags. Lifting them into the trunk of his old Toyota he asks the obligatory question one always asks in these situations. “Good flight?” I laugh and answer. “Well, it took off and landed and we didn’t crash, so yeah, it was ok.”

As we get into his car we laugh about the silly things people say to each other at airports. “You Hungry?” He asks. “Sure, I could eat. What do you have in mind.” He checks his mirrors and pulls out of the parking spot while visibly thinking of the lunchtime choices. “Lucky Coq?” He suggests, and it’s not a bad idea. $4 pizzas and locally brewed ice cold stubbies, you can’t beat it.

I lean back into my seat, look out of the window and slide on my ‘sunnies.’ “Yeah. I reckon that’ll hit the spot mate.” I say, and with that we disappear into the Melbourne traffic.

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