I have a certain, maybe it could even be called an obsession, with post-apocalyptic life. Not “running from zombies and hording ammunition” post-apocalypse, but the simple quiet of a world where its people have been gone for some time. This naturally occupies my mind more often in big cities, where it’s nearly impossible to live a day, or even an hour, without being surrounded by people. I think the idea first really took hold with a movie I first found on the video store shelf years back from New Zealand called The Quiet Earth. One morning, the main character wakes up and everyone in the world has simply vanished in their tracks. He goes through stages of dealing with the isolation including a stint of going completely insane, but ultimately, the world is simply his. And the idea captivated me.
My favorite exercise is walking near a freeway, where the rushing drone of cars is nearly as constant as a river, and imagine all these cars full of people either gone or simply empty, their doors hanging open, the rubber of their tires decaying from age and their bodies rusting, motionless for years. Each crack in the pavement sprouts grass, bushes, even trees, and there is simply quiet. Or a giant shopping mall, normally filled with crowds milling through the halls, suddenly abandoned, the few windows still intact covered in grime, more plants long since established in every crevice, and birds nesting in the loftier corners of the ceiling. Somehow, I actually find it comforting. All our hulking creations reduced to landscape, all our buzzing day and night reduced to silent insignificant echos.
But with this imagining comes the thought, among others, of whether I would be content to spend my life where I am; whether that place at that moment would be enough, or would I feel the need to leave, to take drastic measures to get away and either seek more people or simply a new place. Be it find an intact ship or even a plane, and try to make it to another shore, or simply make my life in the ruins of the city, build for my survival and simply survive there as long as I could. And without fail, I realize I could never stay in Australia. I would never be content to stay. The need to find familiar ground would simply be too strong. For now, the only thing ultimately keeping me here is the fact that I can leave and return whenever I like. Because really, this city is nearly empty to me anyway.