Thursday, October 27, 2011

Notebooks can be a Barrier

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Melbourne to attend a training course. My wife and I used to live in Melbourne so I revisited a couple of our favourite restaurants while I was there.

One of the best vegetarian restaurants in the world – well, in my world at least - is Soul Food Café on Smith Street in Fitzroy. I want to tell you that Soul Food Café, or Soul Food as it is affectionately called, is bohemian, but I don’t really know what that word means. Let me say this: Soul Food is a magnet for hippies of all ages. If you have dreadlocks and wear tie-dyed clothes you would not feel out of place there. If you forgot to change out of your slippers before going out to dinner, head over to Soul Food, you’ll fit right in.

I am not exactly what you would call a hippie. As I sat down behind a small table I realised that I did not fit right in.

I ordered the ‘Haystack’ and a salad. I pulled out my black notebook, the one I use for quick observations, observations that may later become the basis for a short-story, or a blog. I looked around, ready to make an observation or two before my meal arrived. It was then that I realised that I was not alone in my observing. There were a few of us, each sitting behind our own small tables, each with our little black notebooks, each ready to make quick and relevant observations about the world around us.

I saw myself in the faces of these other people.

I hastily put my notebook back into my bag and tried to look normal. I sat staring at the surface of the table in front of me, my mind racing.

I wondered: had I brought that black notebook to the café as a kind of crutch? Was it a thing with which I could pretend to have a purpose; a thing with which I could hide my trepidation at being in a cool café on my own? Was my black notebook a barrier, a barrier to the real experience of being in the café, a barrier behind which I could safely observe the world in the third person?

I was afraid the answer to these questions was yes.

Soon my meal arrived. I ate it. It was delicious. When it was finished I surreptitiously pulled out my black notebook and wrote, ‘Notebooks can be a barrier – blog concept?’

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