Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Love it and hate it

Yesterday's storm passed. I can get on with matters of staring at a koala's bum and finding Australia beguiling and irritating both at the same time.

Irritating, possibly, because we are stuck on a limb at the edge of nowhere. With darkness, which falls at 5.30 each afternoon, all visible life disappears. The shopping mall five miles away shuts up, the roads fall silent, a solitary night fisher takes to the beach, the koala shifts between one buttock cheek to the other. And while this might be blissful for a short time, Grit is a goodtime girl fresh from Hong Kong. A little cultural variety wouldn't go amiss.

I am not exactly a city girl but here I am, finding myself frustrated in search of street life and alternative culture. Down at the shopping mall, discovered this morning, it's all neat and ordered and homely and uniform and everyone dresses like it's 1989. I suddenly yearn for those rich varieties of street people providing a dash of chaos to ignite the unpredictable. And I wouldn't mind some uproar and noise along with that confusion and disorder.

But most of what I miss right now is news. Any news. Except discussion on whether school league tables should be published in New South Wales. Didn't we start that issue in the UK 20 years ago? Or how some bloke is leaving one woman because another woman will have him instead. Clearly nothing's happening in the world. With hope, I could turn to the women's pages, where I can be instructed in how to be as lovely as lovely mothers and cook biscuits.

So some might use expressions like lonely parochial outpost with insular attitudes cut off from the rest of the world. But that wouldn't be fair.

Australia is wonderfully, intensely, beguiling. Possibly because we are stuck on a limb at the edge of nowhere. And I'm not giving up hope of doing that walkabout. I feel the urge. I just want to point in that direction and start walking. I don't know why. I can't explain it. You have nature to yourself. All this immense energy and mystery all around you and if you set out in that direction, you'll be connected to it and lost forever. All that landscape to explore, to know and realise it will never be known, the huge depthless vastness of it, the deserts, mountains, valleys, wide lands of nothing in nowhere. I want to see it all, be in it all, and it starts right here.

With time on my hands while Shark, Squirrel and Tiger track tree frogs and jump in and out of the pool, I make it my sole purpose in life to sit at a picnic table with a beer and muse on whether I could settle down and live in Australia, or whether it would prove too much and I would long to move on and find another place.

I don't have an answer. I watch a koala bear eat five eucalyptus leaves for dinner, scratch a furry ear with a foot, fall asleep in the fork of a branch and never look in danger of dropping out the tree.


The Gossamer Woman said...

That sounds like small town America in the Midwest in the 50's. Awfully boring, almost deadening. I think you need to get out of there as quickly as possible and hop over to Sidney. That's what you need. There will be swimming pools for the kids there as well. Go closer to civilization, Grit! Don't stay in isolation.

Grit said...

irene, this place manages to combine great freedom and intense claustrophobia all at the same time. we hit sydney next week.

Michelle said...

Ah. I loved Sydney and we thought we would happily be able to live there.

No work expat deal for Sydney though as they have a partner deal not subsidiary :-(