When we were in Florence, I bought a compass. This was forever ago now, way back in 2009. When I sat down to write this post, I’ll admit I spent a while trying to remember if it was Florence where I bought it or if we were somewhere in Spain. I had to walk through my memories until I found a defining landmark. Memory is funny like that.
We went to a junk market. Some of the stalls where housed in small shacks so I gathered it was something of a permanent installation. The whole place was stacked full of things – pictures and mirrors and unidentifiable metal things and dust. It was the kind of place where the host of an antiques program would have a field day (literally and figuratively).
There were dozens of chandeliers, dismantled into their composite crystals, arranged in in buckets and bowls and things that looked like dish racks. I wanted to buy a whole chandelier but it wouldn’t fit in my luggage and I didn’t have anywhere to put it anyway. So I bought a single teardrop crystal, the size of my mobile phone. When we got home I hung it in the kitchen and called it a chandelier. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to owning one.
The compass was at a stall filled with things made from brass. Of all the things there Dad liked the telescope best but somehow I couldn’t go past the compass. It felt more useful. I liked the weight of it and the way it fitted in your palm when it was all folded up. I liked the way it unfurled when you opened the lid and the way the little needle would start dancing around the face.
Later in the afternoon we went to a church. It was crypt-like, with relics (mummified saint toes and bits of old cloth) lining the walls. At the door was a metal detector, like at an airport. With the compass in my pocket, I set off the alarm. The security guard leaned in sternly, gesturing questions. I pulled the compass out, started unravelling it from its handkerchief and attempted to explain to him, in English he couldn’t understand, what it was. It only took a second for him to step back and gesture me through. It was complicated, clearly, and he didn’t want to deal with complicated. I didn’t look like I was a danger to anyone. So he let my compass and I in to see the relics without further question.
Since then my compass has tarnished. Finger prints have a pretty drastic effect on brass and I barely remember the reflective sheen it used to have. To be honest there’s something comforting about the dull glow it has now. For the last couple of years it’s been sitting on my bedside table. There have been times when I’ve been hideously lost (which happens reasonably often) and I’ve wished I hadn’t left the compass as home. It’d take a bit of effort to navigate with a compass in the middle of the city but maybe it’s a skill I should learn. Maybe it could be useful. Given that north is something of a constant on my (now former) bedside table, I sometimes wonder if the location is a waste of the device’s abilities. But really the compass is too precious and too heavy to take on adventures. And there’s something nice about being able to check which way is up on the mornings when it feels like you’ve forgotten. 
If you’re in Melbourne, I’ll be having a dinner to celebrate this blog’s fourth (FOURTH) birthday. Details here

Also if you did the survey, I’m working on getting you your reward. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but I’m starting to get on top of things. I haven’t forgotten you!

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year