Eight years after I graduated and left, I returned to Melbourne, Australia. On vacation, I was a tourist this time instead of a shy and painfully young student. Not spending daddy's money anymore.
It's still a good-looking city, with delicate Victorian-era row houses lining wide sidewalks. Tree branches dip with the breeze, which bears no resemblance to its icy parent, the Antarctic chill that whips your hair into your face on the Great Ocean Road. Yes, the bland international shopping malls filled with thumping music and Zara and Topshop and H&M have arrived in the city centre, but they haven't killed off the more charming suburbs.
People get possessive over places they've been, especially if they like them. It's true that Melbourne is not my city, and I don't love it the way others do. But I was surprised by how resentful I felt of the avalanche of advice and suggestions from outsiders (ranging from people who'd been there once, to people who've lived there for years). I wanted to go back and do things my way, walk round the city late at night and relive the pleasure I once took in mundane activities (grocery shopping, commuting, school). It was not Melbourne I wanted to visit, but my own past. They didn't understand.
It's probable that all the advice served me well in the end. It helped me to get Melbourne out of my system, and I don't think I'll go back again. It was good to exorcise my university days and make peace with all the potential I once had, and all the money my poor parents spent. Time to move on, and let other people have it.