(Earlier) In Suburbia
The sun had dipped many hours earlier. The quiet spot in the suburbs was remarkably quiet on any given evening. There’s a quiet street hidden in the atlas an hour north of the city. The midnight hours were often filled with a grand silence in the area. Positioned between a vast bushland that would eventually be cleared and a city on the rise, Mount Colah was a drive-through town that people spot once or twice on a green sign as they drive to their actual destination.
The sounds of a quiet street cannot be understated—few occasions on this pale blue dot can rival the sweetness felt in the hours of 2 and 5am. Overactive insomniacs, lovelorn poets, hopeless gamblers, addicts of every kind, shift workers/alcoholics, maddened minds and the directionless are fine company to have as the clock mercilessly ticks and tocks.
On this quiet street, there’s a room that’s acting out of turn, behind bent blind shades are a kaleidoscope of colours piercing into the silent night. In a darkened house on this darkened street, sits a young man. The year is 2009, and it’s a warm December evening.
There’s a 17 year old boy hunched over his keyboard, likely writing poorly inspired poetry. On his right, lies a pile of rented films, on his left is his hand-me-down TV lighting the room adequately with the pixelated fire of an 80’s coming-of-age cinema. He occasionally rummages through his brothers CD collection, trying to find the next perfect Dylan track to accompany his ever-changing mood. The incessant bell in the hallway is the family cat running around in a similar state of restlessness. He’d always found a kinship with animals, present yet unable to communicate real intention outside hunger, anger, love, the basics.
Somewhere in his mind, he imagines these nights would be outgrown as time went on. He imagines that as he grew to the ages of his cinematic heroes and beyond, he’d find the cipher for living life without issue. He imagines that these hours will be fruitless and without inspiration. He imagines that he will not. Little does he know.
In 2010, the world was still locked away behind the glass walls of youth. I was still a high schooler working at a Blockbuster (Requiescat In Pace). The store itself was situated a bike ride away from my home and proved to be the germinating point for most of my views on the world. I was only fourteen when I started, quite likely breaching various labour laws, it didn’t matter so much then, even if I was being paid sweet fuck-all—I had movies, the first and most dangerous of the vices I’d come to call character traits.
The walls were lined with thousands of stories from thousands of places. The malleable mind of a young and lonely boy can be easily fooled into thinking the world was as it appeared to be—even on a screen. I began to smuggle as many movies as I could ride with back home after a nights work, eager to inject more of these worlds into my little mind. I guess its fair to say, Blockbuster was the gateway drug for the one way tickets I’d end up having in the awkward teenage years of the new millennium.
Each day I’d find a new avenue to explore, older colleagues threw the classics in my direction and told me to ‘Learn’. America, the fair frontier to be conquered by worn in boots with an Eddie Vedder soundtrack. The bright lights of New York City—a beacon for the lost and troubled souls to find order in the chaos. Las Vegas, the place where the American Dream went to die. Paris, for lovers and meet-cutes. London, where you’d find a caravan or a Demon Barber between the colour palettes. Spain, where passions were born and hearts were broken, I did have a melancholic—alcoholic—teutonic Spanish movie marathon at one point after falling hard for the first mistake of many to come.
I had the visual ambition, the audio came from another source. My older brother had often been the object of affirmation. He was the epitome of cool, showcasing the ways life was to be a little ways down the road. It was he who introduced me to the bittersweet symphonic world that lay beyond the Top 40. With every destination, there was a soundtrack affixed to it. The underlying tone that glued the experience to the memory banks, the recipe for a life without filters. His Dylan tracks were the stuff of legend, the passing down of pirated cds containing bootleg sessions were fundamental for my wandering ways. Bob Dylan, the maestro of storytelling was where I found my
Where were we… Oh yes, the settings. They became more and more idealised in my vivid imagination, each one, a small window into a place, a time, a story I yearned to explore. Though I wasn’t old enough to plan my escape from repetition yet. I had all the ammunition I needed to prepare myself for the unexpected, I was out-manned, out-gunned and out-classed. I was about to learn that nothing can truly prepare the mind for the fogged up highways.
The lessons from wandering the last ten years are scattered across hazy memories and broken nights, but I shall persevere and try to retrace my steps. With a little help from Bob Dylan and an all-too-weary imagination. Let’s have a wander.