You sit lazed, composed and care-free on the cosy edge of a fake lawn, your body leaned back resting on the sturdy support of your elbow and your green blouse underneath your loose black cardigan reacts to the light breeze, with a slight and reassuring ripple. The young child, whom I’m assuming is yours, prances on the synthetic grass in front of you with the opportunistic hop not unlike the sparrow in front of me right now. Perhaps she’d just learnt to walk, and is now bound by the realisation that legs can do so much more - such is the optimism and curiosity of a child yet to discover her own physical capabilities.
People laze, eat, converse and traverse this small expanse of fake lawn in this public square, you remain close to the edge with the knee of your loosely crossed legs hovering over the junction where the fake lawn ends and the concrete resumes. Yours eyes are fixated with entertainment and appreciation of the happy child in front of you.
As I watch people use the fake lawn it occurs to me what a thoughtful revelation this is in urban design - that something so simple and efficient could have the use of bringing people together and permitting for a multitude of use cases. What if this fake grass wasn’t here, and was concrete just like everything else? It would just be a large footpath, would people still stop and sit? Would this place be anywhere near as vibrant and social as it is now? Who knows, but I suppose I’m glad it’s here, if it weren’t, I probably wouldn’t be here trying to extract the story behind you - the woman in the green blouse.
But as much as I appreciate the lawn’s presence, it’s implementation confounds me just as much. Here it is, this refreshing touch of green occupying the centre of one of the most urban and commercialised environments of this city - this public square itself a concrete labyrinth of shop-fronts and restaurants, behind me right now is a chocolate bar, beside me a Japanese restaurant, and above me an electronics store. All this, amidst a backdrop of towering high rises that are so close, that looking up at them makes the laws of perspective appear almost comically distorted and at the same time making me feel diminutive, insignificant and small. Yet people sit, eat and sleep blissfully indifferent to the fact that this urban resource is one huge contradiction - this attempt to inject a dab of nature into this city of glass and concrete is itself nothing more than a large congregation of synthetic green strands.
And that whimsically large Christmas tree on the square’s east side is too flawlessly conical to even be a little bit not fake.
I jolt out of my digression and arbitrary musings and look back at you. You’re still there, the child still in front of you with that smile seemingly permanently etched into her face. She’s still hopping on the spot. A couple of young Indian boys, who look about 5 or 6 years old play tiggy around the square while their parents, along with some friends sit at the chocolate bar behind me, enjoying themselves whilst still keeping a watchful eye on the two young boys. These two young boys are happy too, the burden of nothing on their shoulders - the only conceivable disturbance on both of their minds likely being caught and thus becoming ‘it’. I smile, not because I’m happy but from the realisation that pure, unspoilt happiness isn’t just theoretical or imaginary. But it’s fleeting, and for this happiness to eventually become tarnished and tainted is as inevitable as breathing in dust with your air.
But I look at these children, three pure manifestations of what reality is before expectation, before money, before envy, before fear, before love - reality is happiness. Reality is contentedness. Reality is satisfaction. I smile.
Your husband is here now, I’m fairly sure he’s your husband otherwise you might want to look into it because he’s videoing your child, and taking photos of you. You’re probably here on vacation, which isn’t particularly surprising since you don’t look Australian, but I suppose that’s a moot point since this city is so multicultural anyway. I don’t look Australian. He follows your child with the video camera, circling her slowly with care and apprehension to minimise the camera shake. Strangely, the young girl hasn’t sat down since I started looking at you and I try to remember the last time I felt like I had so much energy. The girl is oblivious to the fact that she’s being recorded, obviously she wouldn’t know what a video camera is but I’m surprised that she’s not even slightly curious as to why this shiny contraption is following her around.
You on the other hand behave with an artificial coyness, intermittently smiling at the camera and immediately looking away shyly. I know that feeling, how do you act in front of a video camera? It’s an exhausting façade you’re portraying, switching between a candid pretense whilst simultaneously trying to not ignore the camera. Your young girl is only standing on this fake lawn entertaining herself by absorbing her surroundings with intense interest, with the wide eyes and blank face of an inquisitive toddler. Either way, it’s not exactly video-worthy material; you stand up, brush yourself off before realising that it’s only synthetic grass and there’s no dirt or soil to begrime your black jeans. Your husband acknowledges the gesture and shuts off the video camera.
For the first time I see you with measurable clarity, the complexion of your skin is naturally tanned, perhaps slightly lighter than that of a typical Indonesian or Phillipino. It’s hard to tell your nationality. Your body exhibits the curvature and plumpness of a woman who’s been through a pregnancy, you look like a mother, you have that look about you. But when you smile every time you look at your young girl I know you wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a smile of not only love, but appreciation. Almost on cue, the girl grabs your leg. She’s a lucky girl.
Your husband walks through the fake lawn towards two young girls not too much older than me, probably in their early 20s talking to each other over sushi. He kneels down and passes one of them the camera, and the girl politely nods and points the camera at you, your husband and your daughter. Family photo. It’s a nice moment, and one that really betrays the dynamic of the atmosphere in the square. It’s peak hour, and the escalators entertainingly resemble slow moving caterpillars as they fill up transporting people between the lower level and the concourse. The noise and aura of movement and progression overwhelms me as I sit idly here penning in this genuinely pointless piece of writing. You stand there with your family posing for the photo, your green blouse once again rippling in the breeze. When you look back at this photo you won’t remember how noisy it was, or how uncharacteristically cold it was for a late afternoon summer and how the slow breeze oddly felt more chilly than a violent gust would have. I don’t know what you will remember.
Maybe you’ll remember the girl that took the picture, the young Asian girl with her friend eating the sushi. She was pretty. Her hair was long, the length just surpassing the halfway point between her shoulders and her waist. It was black with mahogany-brown tips, and straight albeit with the most subtle wave. Her hair was glossy too, not unlike the luscious long hair they have in those tragically unrealistic Pantene ads. It probably smelt good too. She had a gentle disposition, when handing the camera back to your husband she smiled bashfully without showing her teeth, and then returned to her friend and her sushi. She was pretty, but pretty in the way a shiny new iPhone is pretty - young and unscathed.
I finish my $1 frozen Coke and as I do you begin to leave with your husband and your daughter. Just as well, it’s getting cold and all I have on is this thin shirt and peak hour’s dying down. I’m hungry too, and I need all my money for my train fare.