There’s a thing in filmmaking called The Golden Hour.
It’s the magical fraction of time, just before the sun goes down, when everything is bathed in heavenly light, making the grubbiest of landscapes look like an oil painting.
Another Golden Hour, of sorts, happens midweek around midday.
An anthropological phenomenon witnessed only by those who don’t work 9-5, it’s when opposite ends of the demographic spectrum – mums with babies and grannies and grandpas – take to the streets.
Generations collide on Mondays and Tuesdays for discount movie tickets. On Wednesdays, they’re out and about for coffee/cake meal deals and quiet time at Coles when you don’t have to pull a hip and shoulder netball move for the last roast chicken.
At different stages of life, but similarly unburdened by the stress of full-time work and peak hour traffic, life is at its most pleasant when these two groups combine.
When the population is made up of ladies with babies and golden-agers, the streets seem more relaxed, carefree, more sun-drenched.
So what binds these kindred spirits? It could be a collection of unfortunate ailments – for every dodgy hip there’s a cracked nipple, for every bunion, a limp pelvic floor. But on the whole, I think it boils down to one shared belief: an acceptance that life needs to move at a slower pace.
It dawned on me when I visited Brunswick with my newborn son. What was meant to be a quick trip became a full day excursion as the length of Sydney Road transformed into something more like the gauntlet from Gladiators. I swear I could hear Mike Whitney blowing his whistle as I faced each challenge of changing a nappy at a bus stop and breastfeeding in a car park. It probably would’ve been easier to pull on a leotard, pick up an oversized foam weapon and go head-to-head with the likes of Vulcan.
It was then I decided that if I was ever going to enjoy this first year with my baby, everyday life needed to be taken down a gear. Readjust your expectations, Bernadette. Embrace the fact that things take time. Need to meet a friend for a coffee and go to the post office? Don’t attempt to do both in one day. You’re not that organised. Best to split it across two.
Once I submitted to a slower pace, life started to be reflected through a whole new lens. It created time to small talk with strangers at the shops; to take the dog for an extra lap around the park; to pull over for cars on narrow streets and give a little finger wave as they pass by; to take my neighbours up on their invitation for tea and bickies; to watch Beyonce’s full 15-minute Super Bowl performance.
Taking time with people made me feel more connected to the world and to my community than I ever have. The saying’s true, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
I’m due to go back to work mid-year. I’m reminded of the looming date with every thread that wears bare on the inner thigh of my maternity jeans. I’ll once again be shackled by deadlines, meetings, inner-city traffic and normal pants that don’t have a stretchy waistband that covers me from hip to boob.
I’ll miss hanging out with the nanas. They’ve been doing it right this whole time and my days have been a lot nicer for it.
When I return to the rat race I hope I never forget how enjoyable the ride can be when you ease your foot off the pedal a bit. I hope I can still catch a movie on Tightarse Tuesday every now and then, and get out early enough to soak in the last embers of golden light before the sun goes down on the day.
With thanks to the Bubba West team who first published this article in edition 5.