Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Letter To My Hometown

Dear Toowoomba,

How you been? We don’t hang around as much anymore. We were pretty tight for a couple of years there though, nearly two whole decades we lasted. But you can’t have too much of a good thing now, can you?

Sometimes I’m not overly flattering towards you, I mean, I know that you know sometimes I tell people more about how I was born in Melbourne than how I grew up in you, even though I was only in Melbourne for a few short months. I pick my timing though, for the people who I think will reply with a, “Oh Toowoomba! My mum just retired to there, it’s lovely!” I give them the answer about you. For those who are going to do a, “Oh Toowoomba…wait…where is that again? Isn’t that some small country town?” I might stray more towards pretending to be more cosmopolitan…

I hope you’re not offended by this. Of all of us, you should know how much appearance matters these days; you do after all go to a lot of effort to maintain yours. Your colourful gardens, parades, historical buildings and the phenomenal number of schools are all put in place to make you seem family friendly, lovely and quaint.

Now we all know that’s not all there is to you, with your ‘gruesome murder rate’, insane amounts of drugs and crime and unbelievable population of bogans (seriously guys, a facebook page?), but I was actually pretty happy to grow up with these things. After all, if I can feel safe walking down a Toowoomba street at 2am, I can pretty much feel safe anywhere. I am un-phaseable when it comes to going places alone, when drunken men slur at me on a night out on the town I simply walk by, knowing the self defence course it was recommended I take in high school has taught me how to deal with them if it’s ever necessary. But it’s usually not, because the confidence you taught me means they pretty much leave me alone. I owe you one, Toowoomba, for helping me cope out in the big bad world.

People call you ‘the womb’ for short, and I guess that’s pretty smart. I am certainly a product of you, whether I like it or not, and though I’m not sure I’ll ever return to live permanently, I’ll probably always carry traces of you in my character. We’ve had some good times, some great times even, and every time I go back to visit I’m reminded on every street corner I pass of the memories you hold. So cheers to that, Toowoomba.

Until next time,

Lauren


Dear Toowoomba,

We had some really good times you and I. We were like best friends; we practically knew everything about each other. I would stroll through Queens Park in the dry winters or hot summers before I got my license - even after I got my license – I was just so fond of you. Many sunburnt days were passed walking through the city centre, shopping and chilling out at Grandie, or going to the movies at Strandie, or meeting for coffee at the McCafe. I even studied there, spending hours lying about the Quad between classes discussing plays, drinking flavoured milk and eating chips and gravy, the Refect’s speciality. I soaked in the Toowoomba night life, freezing my arse off in short dresses and heels in winter and dancing on the Fibbers dance floor to “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne on many a Friday night. I knew your streets backwards and there was barely a destination I had to Google Map to find. Those were the days.

I remember when the first Sushi stores opened – so metropolitan – and when a Smiggle franchise opened its doors half a year after my studies had finished. You were growing up a little. But by this time I’d seen a bit of the world; Houston, New York, Las Vegas, LA. Even a week at Mooloolaba had me noticing how out of date and full of flaws you are (they have a Moroccan restaurant there!).

So you can’t blame me when I jumped at the chance to move to Brisbane. Sure, it’s not NYC, but it has an international airport and restaurants that sell Nepalese food. It has a public transport system that’s actually practical. It has more than one cute boutique-clothing store aimed at my age group. I wouldn’t have to drive for an hour and a half every time I wanted to see a play that wasn’t being put on at one of the two theatres at home.

I’m doing really well. My new place has two pools and a gym (no need to trek to Milne Bay here!), I’m close to heaps of great shopping centres that would put Grand Central to shame and probably make Garden Town run into a corner and weep. I’ve been to the theatre once already, and am going again in a week’s time, I went to the markets yesterday and am planning to hit The Valley for some fine vegetarian cuisine from Grill’d.

I hope you don’t hold it against me. I’ll come back and visit, often. Half of the best people I know still live within your city limits. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me, not by far. Just don’t be insulted when I conveniently side-step when answering the question “where did you grow up?”

Ell-Leigh

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