The Guitar Man

Almost a month into my brand new adventure, I am now the girl who lurks between the shelves in the City Library and waits for that 20 minute express computer to be free before I jump on it. Kinda like that old woman in that Friends episode. The one who waits for the Poker machines in Vegas before she swoops in and steals Phoebe’s Jackpot. Who knew I’d be desperate for 20 minutes of Internet a month ago when I was downloading songs off Youtube with not a care in the world. I am also the girl who waits around the elevator in my apartment building and accosts unknowing strangers, taking them back to my flat with me and getting them to open a can of baked beans. (I swear it wasn’t just me – the tin opener is terrible!) The good Samaritan then cut his finger in the process but was quite happy to let me put a band aid on him. Being cut off from Facebook and Hotmail has me wishing I’d messaged everyone I haven’t yet – before this forced period of hibernation. People I wish I’d kept in touch with but I was too busy, or too tired or too….no excuse.


My last post was followed by a surge of emails, facebook messages and worried phone calls, for which I am so grateful. I am actually fine. Life is a little unpredictable at the moment but I’m sure this is a good lesson for me. It’s almost like a crash course in dealing with change and ambiguity. Something I am supposed to be good at according to my job description but given my flailing in present circumstances – apparently not. I am sure I’ll look back at this and think God why did I ever worry so much about everything, half glass empty much. And truth be told – life will sort itself out eventually. It is just in this present moment, that I feel a little bit inadequate, and slightly overwhelmed by the unpredictability of it all and it’s tempting to be an Ostrich and just bury my head in the sand at times.


There are moments that have meant a lot to me. Like the guy on my bus who walked me down to Flinders street from Southern Cross station when our bus broke down and he realised I wasn’t from Melbourne. Thank you for talking to the crazy girl who looked around nervously and talked too much. I now have a ‘bus-friend’ called Nick to talk to while he’s here over the summer. To the guy who smiled at me as I walked across the bridge battling the heat even at 8pm in this Melbourne summer – thank you for noticing me when I thought no one did. My ego was pleasantly surprised it still had a heartbeat, given that I have neglected any attempt to look good and my eyebrows are rivalling that of Hermione Grangers’.


To the man playing the guitar on Southbank Promendade – that was the second time I’ve heard you play and my feet dragged me in your direction even though my house was in the opposite direction. On Saturday evening I heard you play ‘Fast car’, today it was ‘3am’ by Matchbox Twenty. I followed the sound of your voice singing the words “and she said baby, its 3am I might be lonely”. I knew this song. I got close enough to remember the name but I was too shy to stop to listen. I thought maybe, maybe next time I hear you play I’ll stop and put some change in your guitar case and I’ll write you a note to tell you how you touched my life and how every time I hear you, its like you’re singing just for me. I feel like the woman in that song by Roberta Flack – I came to see you and listened for a while, and there you were this stranger….singing my life with your words. You reminded me that if someone wrote those songs, someone else has felt like I feel and dreamt like I dream. And that must mean something.


To the men playing the guitar – two nights later, I left a note for you.


I left a letter for a stranger. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Actually it was two strangers. The guy I heard singing Fast Car on Southbank Promenade? There’s two of them. One of them looks like a Californian blonde surfer, the other has dirty dreads and the voice of an angel. I could never ever walk up to them and tell them that they made my week….made my month maybe. And so I took the easy way out and wrote them a letter on the letter writing paper with matching envelopes my friend got me as a going away present.


I heard them play on Friday night…It was Chinese New Year and I planned to force myself out of my flat and walk down to the river and see the stalls and the lanterns. I had a feeling – a premonition – that they would be there again. And right enough they were. They were playing ‘Save tonight’ by Eagle Eye Cherry. I love that song. I don’t know how they do it but they always sing my favourite songs. I would love to hear them sing This is love in Adelaide, I can almost imagine their voices in my head.


And so I walked past them with a smile on my face and sat on a bench facing the river and let myself soak in their music and it was amazing. After a few minutes I walked past them and left them some change and my letter. They may laugh at it, they may think it’s silly and immature – or they may be grateful and happy that their music has meant something to someone out there. I’d like to think it’s the latter. When I was nine years old, my favourite song was The Guitar Man by Bread. My mum laughed at the time saying it was a very mature favourite song for a nine year old (my favourite book was Jane Eyre which earned a few more laughs), and now I see what she means. I’m sure that in time, my two guitar men will move on, find a new crowd, grow old and lose their fans. But I will never forget them or how one song on a hot 41 degree evening meant so much to me.


As for me – the winds have changed. It’s time to start packing again. I might not have a magic carpet bag like Mary Poppins but I think I feel more capable of dealing with whatever comes out of it. I’ve done a lot of stupid things which are all part of the learning curve I guess. Like cooking 1kg of mince with baked beans and rocket leaves. It has now lasted me 4 meals and I still have an entire box to go. I don’t think I’m ever going to eat mince again. Like going to see a flat inspection at Vale Street in East Melbourne and only realising when I knocked on the door that I was meant to be at the same street in North Melbourne. But these are all things that I need to do while I’m young and learn from. While I just have myself to be responsible for and no one else. I cannot imagine what my grandparents went through, moving away from home at the age of 19, both of them. One went away to be a teacher in the North of India, the other far away to Uganda to work in a bank. Starting life anew with 6 younger brothers and sisters to care for and letters that arrived 3 weeks after they were written is something I can’t even imagine myself doing. Or my parents who moved to New Zealand when I was eight and had not only themselves but two children to worry about. I spent the weekend with family again and had a wonderful time eating, talking, and laughing all weekend, learning how to do fishtail braids and not to mention whispering late at night with my cousin and on-demand spooner 😉 I was sent home with lots of plastic containers, ham, and a stomach full of yummy home-cooked food.


I feel like this week is going to be even better than the last – I’m moving out on Saturday and waiting on applications to find out where exactly, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for a quiet little Studio apartment I’ve set my heart on. The jigsaws in this puzzle all seem to be falling in place, and when they do, life will be unstoppable. I have a wanderlust that’s pushing me on, there are so many museums, art galleries, zoos, musicals, plays…the list is endless. And if all else fails – I know I always have my Guitar Men.  Xoxo boys – from the Girl who loves your music.

2 thoughts on “The Guitar Man

  1. Wow some amazing experiences. I’m loving reading about your journey in Melbourne. You make it sound so magical and travel type. I’m sure to all those who you are thankful to can sense your appreciation. I feel like I’m right there with you when you’re explaining your day to day exploration through city. This is making me more and more jealous that I should come and visit you for a week and explore through the city the same way. Please take care I miss you very much.


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