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It is impossible to get lost in Adelaide. We are a city with a penchant for lines, geometry and right angles. We are precise. Conceived through trigonometrical survey, the city’s one mile, square girth means that, at any point you happen to be, you know where that point is. Even our gardens are perfectly placed on the outskirts of the grid, creating a green belt between lines that cross and then cross again. Straight, wide and without room for doubt.

I used to go to the Adelaide Central Market when I wanted to get lost. Sometime before noon on a Saturday morning I would go and stand in the middle of the stalls, battered by boxes and trolleys and people trailing kids and bags of spinach amidst the fruit displays that all look the same, and try and find my way out. But now I know it too well. I once also got lost in Colonel Light Gardens because the roads are strangely curved. But it was not proper disorientation, just a slight unknowing.

Growing up in a city that you can’t get lost in has some peculiar impacts. I don’t read maps for a start. Instead I trust feelings and shadows and the angles of things. I feel a certainty and confidence at all times. I lack caution because I know where the dark bits lie.

Not being able to get lost means that I have to work harder to see things. For example, I can drive between Torrensville and Marion Shopping Centre and not remember a single right turn. Or walk from North Terrace to Victoria Square and forget how I got there.

You would think that, given I have less to think about, I would see more. That I would look up and notice the tiny, gold and black bumblebee above my head or how, in that office, someone has stuck a picture of a goat on the window and I really wish I could see what was written below it. But I don’t see these things for a long long time.

I wonder if not being able to get lost is why everyone feels like my neighbor. Why here feels small and sometimes closed. My life on time-lapse would show only up and down, back and forth over and over again; funneled through old, familiar tracks lined with familiar faces.

Living in a city you can’t get lost in means that sometimes I take up cartography. My maps have a location marker and several grid-lines in red. I know which roads to avoid, what your tracks are and how you traverse. But avoiding you is a bit like playing Snake; I know you are always, like me, somewhere on this grid.

imes I take up cartography. My maps have a location marker and several grid-lines in red. I know which roads to avoid, what your tracks are and how you traverse. But avoiding you is a bit like playing Snake; I know you are always, like me, somewhere on this grid.

 

 

 


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Adelaide Stories #3

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