“And this is my sushi knife.” I lean over as Anthony unwraps the paper cover to reveal the blade. I don’t know anything about knives but this one doesn’t have that wavy line marking the boundary between the tempered edge and the rest of the blade. The other knife had a temper-line also known as a “hamon”. My body flashes a mix of disappointment and disinterest. Anthony moves on to educate me, “It is flat on one side and honed on the other which gives it a very sharp edge... it allows a sharp, square cut.” He flips the blade to show me. “I bought this in Kyoto at the same shop as the other knife. It’s really good steel and will last forever. I can pass it on to my girls.” I look hopelessly at the simple, albeit elegant, instrument, “But it doesn’t have a wavy bit.” Anthony continues, “True, but this is a quality knife with a fine grain... And it’s more than that. When I pick it up it reminds me of the time we had in Kyoto.” He flips the blade over, “It has memories.” I glaze over. Anthony puts the knife away. Specialty knives aren’t really my thing.
We continue our chat about Queensland Health and the direction public health is taking, about the resurgence of vinyl records, and about Anthony’s recent interest in film photography. Anthony - who is adept with a digital camera and all the post-processing that goes with it - tells me that photographs taken on film aren’t any better than digital images. Just different. Different in the way they are handled, different in what they produce, different in the way we look at them, and select them, and display them.
“You are definitely a process person...” I tell him, “I focus too much on end results.” Pithy statements like this man-handles and pigeon-holes abstract concepts but provide me an understanding and a means for navigation. Anthony does not respond. He doesn’t feel the need to simplify the world in order to live in it.
We talk about running. He tells me about his run across the Larapinta Trail last year. I tell him about my various injuries sustained from much shorter runs. Anthony shows me a variety of shoes scattered throughout his house and tells me to think about trying a different shoe on alternate days to subtly change the way my foot strikes the ground.
As I leave Anthony’s place I see the cracked glass panel where his daughter crashed his skateboard whilst scootering through the house. I see chips in the furniture; a small crater in the plasterboard with the matching fragment attached to sticky tape on a peeling poster of Taylor Swift; a computer display propped up by books sitting at a safe but perceptible angle. I see what my brother calls “the patina of life”. Anthony’s house is small, full, and overlooks a beach from which he can watch the sun rise. My house is larger but mostly empty.
I walk down the steps at the front of his house and notice a cracked pot from which arises the scraggly branches of an olive tree. “Oh, you might want to do something about that,” I suggest absently. Anthony smiles, “Yeah, pretty rustic isn’t it?” He points out the tree trunk behind the scraggly branches. Large roots have cracked through the pot and established themselves in the soil. “I saw that when I first came to the property,” Anthony continued, “Looks like someone put the olive tree down there then forgot about it. Over time the tree set down its roots [like a tree is wont to do] and cracked through the pot.” He paused for a moment, “I like it.”
Anthony tells me that he might put down some sleepers and build a small wall to support the exposed roots. But, for the moment, he likes it the way it is.