I KNOW it would appear I have been playing hard to get but seriously Brisbane, the first time we met I just couldn’t stand you.
It was the end of January 1974, and I lobbed into town on a train from the North Coast, a sunny place now called the Sunshine Coast. It was my home, it was quiet and laid back and it was beside the sea.
Then I met you. I was only 17 and off to the big smoke to start my first job out of high school. I was impressionable and first impressions do count.
How was I to know that the day I arrived would go down in history as being at the peak of “the ’74 floods”?
I thought all that water pouring down Queen Street and into stairwells was something you did often when it rained. My mind was focused on finding myself on a near-deserted street in the big city all alone and setting out on the first day of the rest of my life. I wasn’t liking what I was seeing.
My feelings didn’t really change over the next two years. You seemed so crowded and busy all the time and I was always a bit nervous about what you had planned.
The train stations were grubby friendless places and I was straight-out terrified when I had to make my way to South Brisbane station because you couldn’t even have a train to connect from Roma Street.
I still remember walking into that station one Sunday night scared out of my wits as it seemed I was the only person sober and not carrying a brown paper bag with a bottle inside. I had never seen such things before. Trains were so irregular and I was convinced I would be mugged before one arrived.
Perhaps I just never trusted you enough.
Sure, there were some good times when I met your people who introduced me to some of your so-called places to party but they never impressed me. They all seemed so different, so “city” and sometimes just a bit daggy. You didn’t really scrub up at all well to be honest.
I mean, what was there to do on weekends if you couldn’t go to the beach? There was nothing you could offer me to keep me interested.
In the end, I left. I was never very comfortable in your company. I wasn’t sorry when we parted and I never missed you. In fact I never gave you another thought.
Over the next few years I travelled the great cities in Europe and set up home in London. Even though it was a city far bigger than you, I never felt the uneasiness that you gave me and we got on just great.
Its trains ran regularly and on time and it had so many places of real interest to visit. I found that I could be happy living in a big city but was still a bit confused as to why a very big city could make me so comfortable and happy while I was so afraid of you.
I gave our relationship another try in 1984 but you still disappointed me. It didn’t help that the doorman at my workplace in Fortitude Valley would insist on walking me to my car because it was too dangerous to be out alone at 10pm!
Even in afternoon sunshine I was nervous walking to work in the Valley. It was dirty and unappealing and my old fears soon returned.
The only comfort was an excellent Italian café which oozed character but it stood alone on Brunswick Street, a beacon of hope in a boring dirty old city.
Again, we didn’t really hit it off and I returned home to the beach.
Then came Expo ’88 when the Southbank came alive. For the first time you had something to offer and you did it well. I only visited once or twice but I could see that you had a better side if only you could find it.
And that was that. Apart from the occasional visit over the next 25 years, I got along just fine without you. In fact, every time I did see you it was only for the convenience of using your hospitals and offices but not really to get to know you.
Yes, I used you then.
Then came 2011, when I decided to give you another chance.
It wasn’t really that I had decided to come back to you, but fate forced me into your embrace and I bought a tiny apartment on a hill overlooking the CBD, my own City View Shoebox I call it.
It has definitely brought us closer together.
And now the months have swept by and I look at you through new eyes. I walk through your city streets and think that they are up there with some of the finest I have strolled in the world.
You are interesting, intriguing, full of surprises – and you’re home.
After such a long and difficult affair I’m at last ready to settle down with you.
You have so much to offer and in fact, wandering home the other day, I decided I was genuinely falling for you.
And this deep affection has led me to want to test you further on just what you have become and what you have still to achieve. I have become a Brismaniac and now, every day, I plan to head out and document something about you.
Let’s see if we can get to a year, if you can produce something inspiring every day for 365 days. This is your biggest test yet.
And so, brismania.com is born.