I still haven’t found out the location of Melbourne’s tallest palm tree. It explodes suddenly on your left out of a landscape of low roofs, when you come down High Street towards Westgarth. It looks spindly, thin and tall, taller than anything else around. I have tried a couple of times to locate it but you notice the tree only from the top of the hill. By the time you have reached lower ground, double storey houses and blocks of apartments cover it, and it disappears from your view.
I have been wanting to locate it for a long time. And in fact, it was the search for the palm tree that inspired me to write my first radio play, When I’m not leaving, five years ago. The play is about my search for Melbourne’s tallest palm tree and how the urge to locate it overcomes me every time that I am about to leave.
I am about to leave, and once again I wonder whether I should go and look for it. But I don’t. And I don’t think that it has to do with the difficulty of locating it (come on, it cannot be that difficult, if I really wanted to, I have enough friends with a better sense of orientation and great knowledge of the city, I could ask them to help me) but no, I already know that I won’t be trying to find it.
Because the palm tree has become something that has nothing to do with maps or neighbourhoods or sense of discovery. It is the last unattainable mystery of this city that I want to keep unsolved, like closing your eyes as not to see what your old lover is doing in the other room, so that after all these years, he can still surprise you.