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The Balance of the Force

"Anger, fear, aggression; the Dark Side of the Force are they. " - Yoda
Last night I just wanted a holiday from the holiday. Exhausted by the tension of the fires and the trips out into the dark dusty air to allow Kita to excuse himself, last night I needed sleep.

I put Kita in the laundry, which unfortunately includes access to the toilet and asked Alex not to disturb him in the night.

Unable to go to the toilet, shortly afterwards Alex comes out and floods the bathroom sink with brown spaghetti and chocolate pudding vomit. It blocks the sink, it spills over everything. He is so apologetic and does his best to clean it up, but it is the last thing I need and B cannot help without adding to the mess, such is her reaction to sick.

Eventually it is all cleaned up and Alex returns to bed. I turn out the lights and hope to sleep myself.

Then Kita starts crying. I tell him to be quiet. He is quiet for a short time, then the yaps start again. I'm losing my temper. I scold him.

The same thing happens.

I take him out into the drizzle. Eventually he does something. I send him back to bed.

Yap, yap, yap.

I kick him out the side door to do his business, unwilling to wake everyone else up.

He escapes and threatens to leave the property, refuses to come back in.

It's the wee hours of the morning. I've really had it. I fume at his disobedience. I can almost see the lightning bolts shooting out of my fingers.

Somehow I get him back inside. I make sure the doors to all the carpeted rooms are shut and risk letting him have the run of the rest of the house. Then it is off to bed again.

Thankfully it works and I can finally sleep.

Until it is light outside, Alex stirs and I have to take Kita out for his morning ablutions. But I feel more rested. My inner Sith lord has abated.

It's overcast and cool outside. Not your usual beach weather. Time for an alternative.

I have a tradition that I have mentioned before. A long time ago when I was a little boy I saw Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in a Melbourne cinema. Since then, I have tried to see all the Star Wars movies in Melbourne, even taking special day flights for the last day of screenings.

Forty-two years since the first Star Wars was released, The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Star Wars movie sequence and, quite possibly, the end of my tradition. So I felt it only right to take advantage of our Victorian trip to watch it in a Melbourne cinema.

Rather than drive, we catch the train from Marshall Station, boarding the crowded unreserved carriage of the express from Warrnambool. I listen to the soundtrack of Solo, a movie I haven't watched here. As we arrive in Melbourne the track is, appropriately, "Reminiscence Therapy".

B is cold, so I take her to the South Wharf DFO to buy some warmer clothes, but I need to rush off to the nearby Crown Village cinema. I enter during the early adverts to find someone else in my seat, though there are plenty to go around.

Despite the disappointing picture quality of the cinema and the failures of the story, I still enjoy The Rise of Skywalker. It just feels right to watch it here, to ensure that the movie and music will be forever associated with my home cinema.

I needed that time to myself, a period where nobody else is dependent on me, shouting for attention.

When I emerge I am starving, having eaten nothing since waking up. But I first have to rejoin the other two, who have spent the time wandering aimlessly around the city.

“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.” - Yoda
Melbourne is my birthplace and holds a connection that I cannot fully explain. As I ride a tram up along Collins Street, towards Swanston Street, I am also travelling through time. The Christmas decorations hanging from the poles and wires recall childhood trips with Dad to buy presents, the trees and buildings memories of walks along the streets, of dreams and stories of the mysterious businesses inside the buildings of so many different ages, futures imagined but never reached.

I meet B and Alex at an EB Games. They do not feel Melbourne's Force, that history that guides me. Their life exists elsewhere.

We return by tram to Southern Cross Station, where I finally buy some food in the form of takeaway okonomiyaki. A platform change sees us race to platform one, to catch the long V/locity set that is waiting.

I listen to The Rise of Skywalker soundtrack sitting at the window as the train pulls out of this modern station where once I left on my first journeys afar.

Outside of Melbourne, the western side of Port Phillip Bay is flat yellow grassland and featureless new housing developments. I think of all those complaining that they can't cut down their neighbourhood trees and wonder if they would rather live in harsh suburbs like these.

An hour and a quarter later we return to Marshall and drive back to the house. Kita is waiting calmly on his bed.

We head out again down to nearby Barwon Heads at the mouth of the Barwon River. This is another place out of my childhood, staying in the caravan park, watching the distant Point Lonsdale lighthouse blink green, white, red and listening to the rattle of cars crossing the wooden bridge.

The bridge has been replaced now and the town is more upmarket, but it retains that bucolic sensitivity. After fish and chips we walk across the bridge and play in the sand as the sun drifts down towards the horizon. The Spiegeltent has taken up residence for a couple of months and strains of Kate Cebrano singing live can be heard across the river as a ferris wheel spins above the lanterns.

This is an unexpected magic, the mystery of the carnival in an unlikely place.

"You will know when you are calm, at peace. " - Yoda

On the soft sands, the scent of seaweed in the air, the gentle crashing waves and music in the background, the evening reflections, I can let go of all the anger and frustration that has been building within. The Force is in balance again.


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