Every now and then on a Wednesday, I venture into the city to the office. Evolve (parent company of Mumtastic) is based in a warehouse conversion in Surry Hills. It sounds way cooler than it actually is, but it’s a lovely, light space and the people are awesome.
Whenever I plan to go in, it feels like such an inconvenience. Having to get a bit more dressed up in the morning than I usually do (which is to say getting dressed up at all), suddenly worrying that my nails need filing and my legs need shaving and I have no good lipsticks anymore. All the bits of being a woman that I usually ignore quite happily.
It annoys me that the shoes I like to walk in aren’t really office-ready, so I know I’ll walk to and from the station in shoes I’d rather look at. My feet will hurt, my bag will be heavy with my laptop and the hill up from the station is long and involved.
I know I’ll lose time on the commute and that the internet is slower at the office. Working away from my own desk, I’ll feel both restricted and adrift at the same time.
I’m cranky every time I think about it.
But I’m never cranky when I’m actually doing it.
When I’m actually doing it, I relish getting dressed up a little, feeling grown up and special in the morning instead of waiting for a weekend evening, some day.
I can do whatever I want on the commute. I don’t need to pack the time with emails or edits or anything much at all. Instead, I look out the window and wonder at the big wide world out there.
I laugh with my colleagues and eavesdrop on their conversations, enjoying the gossip about people I’ll never know and suburbs I’ll never live in. They’re a young crowd and I’m a mummed-up oddity, but they make me feel welcome and their stories remind me that life doesn’t begin when you become a parent.
At lunch time I walk through the inner suburb I lived in for many years. So much and so little has changed in the 20 years since I’ve been away. There’s still a gas smell outside #307 Crown Street, the big house I lived in for many years with a conveyor belt of interesting types. The Barberia is still a few doors down, a bike resting on the fence, freshly clothed in bright red, glossy paint. The neighbour’s fence hasn’t changed a bit.
I feel like I fit, but I’m quite certain I’m like the puzzle piece that looks right but needs forcing. It’s a strange sensation when you know a place so well and yet not at all. It’s a little bit like having my own time warp, where I’m hurtled back but no one can see me.
Today I bought my lunch from About Life. There’s one near my home as well but I’ve never had lunch there. I save buying lunch for my city days and it’s a treat all on its own. The walk through the neighbourhood, with all its life and noticing, is the icing on the treat.
Days like today remind me that the thought of doing something different is so much stickier than the actual doing. The reality of change is that it feels hard, but the landing is soft and vibrant. It inspires us and invigorates us and possibly reminds us how good we’ve got it back in our little comfort zone.
I think there are two kinds of joy in life: the kind that delights in the familiar; and the kind that is found only when we explore the unfamiliar.
I hope you have both kinds in your life too.