Monday, June 11, 2007

Maria's Shop

Maria's Shop, on Albermarle Street.

There are lots of flowers in makeshift vases, and personal messages for Maria, which makes me feel so glad to live in this community.

Maria's Shop isn't my local corner store, but I understand completely the grief of her neighbours and customers. I feel very attached to the local shopkeepers, and I still pop in to my old corner store, on Alice Street, to see how things are going. The toddler I remember from 1998 now sits at the counter doing maths homework. He has no idea who I am and wouldn't realise how his presence quietly evokes in me the comfort of continuity and belonging.

The people who serve us are such an important part of our mental landscape. Last weekend a woman from the Australian Electoral Commission came to my house. I felt like I knew her quite well, and thought I must have met her at a Greens event. I was a bit embarrassed that I couldn't remember the name of someone with whom I obviously interacted quite substantially. When I asked where we had met before, she said she used to work at the Crispy Inn bakery on King Street. The extent of our interaction had been over the commercial exchange of an occasional sourdough baguette, but in my mind she was practically my friend.

An aside: You might remember how the Crispy Inn played a critical, ridiculous role in the VSU debate. Maybe this is why she conjured up for me a political connection?!

Learning meditation at the Buddhist Centre on Enmore Road, we were instructed, as part of the metta bhavana practice, to think of a neutral acquaintance whom we don't really know, to be the subject of our private meditative thoughts of loving kindness. Discussing with the group afterwards, it turned out that almost everyone was thinking of local shopkeepers. Multiple people were directing their good vibes towards the man in the Saray Turkish Pizza place. I was focusing on the woman in the newsagent on Wilson Street, who keeps her dog by her side in the shop.

All these incidental people in our lives, with starring roles in our consciousness, and with good vibes coming their way. For me, that's what feeling at home in a place is all about.

Maria's Shop got me thinking about all of this, and about how I should document more about these local identities. I shall endeavour to do so.


Penelope said...

Hi. :) Great post. I have recently been thinking about those kinds of relationships... the ones we have with people we might see and speak to daily, but whose name we might not know. I think they are a bigger part of our lives than we usually realise.

I was also reminded of this horrible story from the suburb I used to live in in Newcastle. While I only shopped at "Frank's Ham and Beef" shop a few times, I remember Frank and was so sad to hear of what happened to him. I was living back in Sydney when it happened, but I think there was a similar outpouring of grief to that displayed at Maria's.

I look forward to reading your posts about more local identities. :)

Zoe said...

It's funny that remembering those connections is part of the appeal of your blog for me, because I really felt that sense of connection strongly when I lived in Enmore.

If he's still there, tell Vince from Bravo coffee that Zoe sends her love!

suzysiu said...

What's wrong with the man from Saray?

I am very unfriendly to shopkeepers and waiters, however I would like to be the opposite. I look forward to more posts on this topic too :)

Nosey said...

Hey Suzy. No, the man from Saray is a moustachioed gem! My fellow meditators were focusing on him (and me on the lady in the newsagent) because we already have such warm feelings towards them.

And I'll try my hardest to make you a nicer person! :)