Yesterday I found myself doing a bloody hook turn. I’d managed to avoid it since arriving in Melbourne but realised it was either do the hook turn or end up back over the Yarra. Snailing it down Collins Street looking for an alternative, I forced myself to quickly take in how other more adventurous drivers were negotiating this mysterious Melbourne-only traffic phenomenon. In the space of 1.5 minutes, I gathered enough knowledge and courage to phone my friend, plant myself in the left hand lane and scream down the phone at her, “I’M DOING A BLOODY HOOK TURN!!! SHIT SHIT SHIIIIIITTTTT!” I also managed to explain to her that since I was picking her up from Southern Cross Station, it was all her fault.
You’d be excused for thinking that I’d been living under a rock for the entirety of my adult existence.
It seems that I really hate being the new kid. Over the years, when finding myself in a new city, I’ve relied on my dramatic skills to create an air of casual composure. The goal is for others to assume I am well-accustomed to my environment because, god forbid, I might look awkward. Yes, hello. Too late. Apparently everything about me screams awkward. I’m yet to pass effortlessly through a turnstile or a revolving door.
So, I’ve joined the kind of gym that inner city living demands. I can walk there (I drive of course). Most members are models – both gay and straight. The women wear their hair in the top knot style that reminds viewers that when released, the hair will flow in barrel curls across one’s shoulders.
The outfits. Can we just talk briefly about active wear?? I’m not going to go down the well worn path of its overuse. But since when is going to exercise an opportunity for bold, bloody fashion statements? I’m half tempted to rock up in a g-string leotard, leg warmers and Reebok high tops – but I’m scared it would actually catch on. Again.
It’s the kind of gym that is frequented by people who name the days of the week by body parts. Leg day. Arm day. I feel like we could skip that and just name them using phrases like Guilt Day, Fat Day, Pre-menstrual Day and I’m Paid in Advance So I May As Well Go Day.
I’ve done Pilates in Singapore for three years now and I used to consider myself a lazy intermediate. This is defined as having full awareness of how Pilates generally works, knowing how to set up the machine, not falling off the machine and finally, by being able to attempt something that is terrifyingly (and accurately) known as the Russian Splits.
But now that I’m in a Melbourne gym with all of these Bellas and Michaelas and Brookes, every ounce of skill and confidence has left me. I can’t seem to set up the machine without asking for help. Nobody smiles at anyone and nobody, absolutely nobody, asks questions. The instructor is miked because of course there are 30 or so reformer machines in the room and she doesn’t want to have to yell. I feel like I missed the part where I’m supposed to be enjoying it. It is truly the most intimidating part of my week. And I think it’s because I’m new. I just hate not knowing how to do stuff. I hate looking clueless. I’m ashamed of my own ignorance.
Love the tram. It’s right outside my door and has me in the city in ten quick minutes. But every time I board one, I’m phone in hand attempting to work out connections, places, routes and times. I’m basically living app to app here. With all of this going on, I don’t need to be stressing about how to warn the driver I need to get off.
Two weeks ago I was on my way to visit some friends. Two trams. One simple connection. Much fluster. I found myself in a deep and meaningful comparison of Melbourne and Sydney with a concerned looking meth user who seemed to take pity on my lack of composure. Disappointingly though he didn’t seem to think it necessary to stop me from pushing the emergency button instead of pulling the cord to alert the driver of my need to disembark. Fortunately the emergency button did indeed get the driver’s attention and with eyes rolling and much sighing, he let me off the tram.
So it seems I’m destined to be a bit of a dork for a while. I think the phrase someone used the other day was ‘not yet established’. I’m not yet established in my new city. Apart from wearing a lot of black and ankle boots, I’m not sure what else I can do until my establishment is final. Perhaps I’ll grow a beard and wear a leather apron to serve my guests coffee. That seems to be a thing.