Tim Mallon | A quiet you can't replace

Los Angeles, 1997: and the ubiquitous cars astound the brain of a dislocated boy from Horseshoe Bend. The sheer everywhere-ness of them all, the maddening non-stopness of them all, of it all, made me know I didn’t belong in a place like that, couldn’t exist in a place like that …

And I remember longing for the torpidity of our little streets and roads.

Remember longing for the languidness of Louth Park Road: for the sight of dreaming horses out in the paddocks, their tails flicking softly down there near the creek and all that.

Remember longing for a street sans cars, and only cricket played there in the middle, easy-minded kids searching geranium bushes for taped-up tennis-balls, only a slow moving Morris Minor occasionally and apologetically disturbing the scene..

Remember looking at the Los Angeles frenzy and wanting instead, to be coasting upon a bike down my Olive Street hill, thinking only of basketball and soccer and sweet Cherry Cheer cordial and all that …

MAITLAND MAGIC:  It's easy to be moved by space and time and not much going on. Picture Floyd Mallon.

MAITLAND MAGIC: It's easy to be moved by space and time and not much going on. Picture Floyd Mallon.

And the way there, in the grim grasp of shiny mad consumerism, well, I remember hankering for the earthiness of Glenarvon and Flat Roads, for the stately quiet of Kensington Road, for the dead-end calm of the streets in Maitland that end at the riverbank, Cohen, Plaistowe, Hunter, and Wood …

And back then in the claustrophobia of the interminable traffic, I forgot the ache for more that sometimes comes in the big quietness of a Maitland summer street. The gargantuan noise and rush of the city helped me realise the deep, deep beauty felt in Maitland summer stillness …

And with the exception of the good people of Greece, I’ve never been treated more kindly overseas than when I was in America, when I was away from the sedateness of home, of here. And the way I reckon that country owns more ease than I know of, and that’s for sure. The way it taught me plenty, and that’s right . . .

And the other day, well, I was talking to some people from over there, from California: beautiful, kind-hearted people, and I was asking them in a kinda silly yokel way what they reckoned of here?

And they said it was ‘quiet and had a lot less people. Yeah, real quiet compared to here.’

And I could understand the difference, could sense how the bigness and emptiness of the Australian sky itself might make a visitor feel peculiar. I can understand how the shapelessness of the gum-tree bush might make a traveller feel strange. I can appreciate how the muted streets might take some some getting used-to, take some time to adjust to …

And so I went walking and driving out along the quieter streets and roads dear reader. Went out to feel it all again, to be moved by space and time and not much going on - and that’s right.

And out there, around here, there’s still room and quiet enough to be underwhelmed, and how that’s okay…

And so it goes. Goodnight.

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