So my last day in Canberra was bizarrely moviesque… have you ever had one of those days with such an uncanny symmetry or pattern to it that it feels it must have been playing off a script? I’ll do a wee summary here, showing the symmetry via the emotions of the day:
- Sad lil Walt’s Wanderer. Woke up after a delightful debaucherous night full of dread about packing up and leaving so soon (pretty much the next day) after finishing my exams.
- Awestruck lil Walt’s Wanderer. Luckily I had planned a morning activity with my fellow exchange student Natalia! Climbing Canberra’s Mount Ainslie was no small feat when feeling slightly hungover, but boy was the view worth it.
- Happily Social lil Walt’s Wanderer. Lost track of time chatting with Natalia atop the mountain, and then went to reward ourselves with some ice cream from Frugii Desert Laboratory. Then home to Fenner, specifically to Ruth’s room, where we wrapped the abundance of presents we had bought for Shibanni’s birthday. We joked that we felt like lesbian white, blonde mothers spoiling their adopted Third World child. Gave Shib the gifts and we then all went to Civic together one last time.
- Happily Solitary lil Walt’s Wanderer. I told the girls to head back to be on time for Boot Camp and I roamed around by myself, soaking up Civic and the absurd designs of Canberra’s graffiti and sculptures for one last time.
- Happily Social lil Walt’s Wanderer. The final tea night with my incredible floor, North 5, which was the same as any other tea night, just as I hoped it would be. Tearful goodbyes was a new addition admittedly, but that was needed too.
- Awestruck lil Walt’s Wanderer. My friend Kaitie had promised to show Shibanni and Ruth and I some proper stars, saying that the stars you could see from Canberra’s city (small though said city is and as a result having a decent star view) was nothing on what you could see when you drove to its outskirts. Once we arrived (for me, again) on top of Ainslie (this time by car), Kaitie apologised for the, in her opinion, less than satisfactory number of stars. I assured her it was perfect, because it was. The four of us stood gazing out on the view of Canberra’s city, now lit up, chatting every now and then but not feeling remotely awkward when a pause was allowed to stretch out as we absorbed what was stretched out before us.
- Sad lil Walt’s Wanderer. Hugged Kaitie goodbye and went into my still unpacked room. Had the help of Shibanni, Ruth, Romee and Ela, my fast friends from the beginning of my time in Canberra, to sort the mess. I am forever indebted. Hugged the latter two goodbye before they went back to their floor, and slept on my bare bed with Shibanni and Ruth for an hour before I had to leave for my bus… I will miss living with those girls every day.
So there you go! Eerie, right? Ironically enough, at the start of the day the lovely Natalia dubbed our Ainslie adventure The Search for Symmetry, seeing as how neither of us had seen this famously symmetrical view of Canberra from above (she not having climbed Ainslie and me having gone when it was foggy. Pro Tip: Kangaroos bouncing across the road through fog? One of the most majestic things you could hope to see O_O). Fittingly, my day pretty much mapped onto the view of the place I had come to love so much.
There are a few reasons why I chose Mulan as the movie to represent this final day in Canberra:
For one, I sort of wanted Mulan to be checked off in case I moved on to talking about China and used that film as an easy way out!
In my research into symmetry while generating ideas for this post (it got a little too intense. I even acquired some measuring tape and demanded my boyfriend allow me to measure him like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) I came across an article which claimed that while symmetry plays a key role in human perceptions of beauty, perfection is not the idea. The author,Rajgopal Nidamboor, used a picture of a pretty flower as an example, showing that while it is symmetrical enough, there are inconsistencies on each side if we look close enough. These little surprises, Nidamboor claims, is what heightens our enjoyment of what we are looking at. My day, Canberra’s view and presumably The Flower That Blooms in Adversity are all decently symmetrical but it’s the differing details seen upon close inspection of the features/ events that please us most and give the object/ time some character.
Then, as is clear from the title, I enjoy the notion of reflecting on Canberra through the song ‘Reflection’ (Puns are only ok when Disneyrelated). The song is all about feelings of inadequacy and the desire for knowledge of the self, and I can think of no better themes when it comes to talking about a personified version of Canberra, Australia’s capital. Tis a strange place if truth be told, as if it’s just finding it’s feet… when I first arrived I was struck by it’s lack of sprawl (which I’m used to in other major cities), its single shopping center and relatively few nightclubs, its ridiculous artwork dotted around the place which doesn’t quite fit any theme, the fact that you can always see the bush or the mountains despite wandering around the CBD… all these little inconsistencies inside this surfacely symmetrical urban area. I came to adore Canberra as the perfect place that it is… not because it was as perfectly planned as its view suggests, but because it does have these funny little flaws and most people loves it despite/ because of them! While this version of ‘Reflection’ will be as melancholic as the original, I shall dot pictures of my time in Canberra throughout the song in order to comfort my gorgeous temporary home and contradict its teenagesque insecurities ❤
I hope you enjoy the blog post (which is notably smaller than its intro)!
Reflection – As Sung By Canberra, ACT
Look at me
I will never pass for a captial city
Against Melbourne or Sydney
Can it be
I’m not meant to play this part?
If they weren’t impressed by my symmetry
I would break Australia’s heart.
Who is that place you see
From the top
Of Mount Ainslie?
Does my art and nature give a passable show?
I-fear I-fail to amuse my
Though I try
Does my perfect pattern show who I am inside?
Does my perfect pattern show who I am inside?