October 26, 2022
ONE THING WE always try to do in the morning is walk to the gym together. Then D goes inside and I run back home. I imagine I am running away from the gym, a place I hate.
Once I got home I called my mom while it was still early in the U.S. Then I called state transportation about a fare evasion fine. I haven’t lived that long in Australia, but I have been here for enough time that I occasionally deal with bureaucracy.
Going through my emails, I found I needed to print my Iowa overseas ballot request form at the library. Before leaving I poured out an allergy pill from the bottle, but it fell on the floor. It landed next to a pill I must’ve dropped a few weeks ago. I mixed them in my palm then chucked them both back into the bottle, because what I don’t know won’t matter. And for some unfounded reason I trust my apartment floor.
After rouletting an allergy pill, I put on a baseball cap that I got from a spin cycling place, and hoped no one would comment on the logo, although I knew how I’d react if they did—I’d give a flimsy smile and say the place was great, even though I felt it represented something in this city, something I didn’t want to be associated with.
A flower sat facedown on the sidewalk. I flipped it over for someone else to find. One of my friends likes to do that with pennies too, because only head-side-up pennies are good luck. It is always nice to leave a mark on something.
At the library I printed my ballot request form. Some smooth, good-looking uncrinkled paper slid out of the printer. Outside, the older Victorian buildings seem well-preserved. I once walked by as some period movie was filming. The set people had papered over the windows and the council campaign posters. They replaced the store signs but didn’t reassign the businesses inside; post office, library, shoe repair, barber, optical.
The ballot form has to be printed, then signed, then scanned and emailed. I stopped at a cafe to fill out my form.
I bought an oat-milk latte. Later the owner filled up a pumpkin cup and gave it to someone in the kitchen. I would love to be not just a customer, but maybe be on pumpkin cup level, socially.
Once I was helping a friend decide if he wanted to buy an expensive standalone pull-up bar to put in his room. He said he wouldn’t just use it once or twice per week, but he’d instead get into the routine of doing one pull-up every hour. It would be a part of his life. That would justify the cost. Then, if he ever travelled or went on vacation, he would make sure a pull-up bar would be in his vicinity. Either at a park, or a gym. Before booking a place to stay, he would make sure he could easily walk to a pull-up bar, especially if he was visiting for more than a week. Definitely, he said. He would be at that pull-up bar every day.
If he was regimented enough, I think maybe he would be recognized as the local pull-up bar guy, even though he didn’t live there and wasn’t a local at all, rather a foreign traveller with very consistent habits.
Going to this coffee shop felt sort of like that. If I came here often enough, maybe I’d become a local by legend.
On days I work from home, the owner of this cafe is sometimes the only other person I talk with face-to-face. Yesterday we chatted about his trip to India. Today he was busier, but we shared a hello. On the wall is a painting of the previous owner in front of the cafe’s shelves. A decent portrait, sure, but I want to replace it with one that has the current owner in it. I would paint it, even though I’m not very good.
After logging off work, I took the tram. At least one person on the tram said an Australian no, also known as “naurrr.” It remains exotic to me.
At an Indonesian restaurant I chose to sit at a large communal table with lots of people enjoying themselves. Someone came in filming a video on their phone, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a sort of hunched over gremlin in the back (my current form), or someone who participated politely in the medium, attractively ate rice on a fork. I don’t want to end up being screenshot and zoomed in on, on some cringe-loving instagrammer’s post. Though it is nice to be noticed, sometimes, even if you’re just in the background.
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