here's a story that just got bigger and bigger. :)
At the start of this year I made a big change, I moved from my long time home, Canberra, to the much bigger and full on world of Melbourne. This change challenged and surprised me in many ways that I had not expected. Canberra is a small city, and although growing up I never disliked the place (as many of my friends and peers did) by the time I left I felt more than ready to get out and explore. I often say that Canberra is a great place to grow up. It's big enough to keep young people entertained and yet small enough to give them the feeling of moving onto bigger (and possibly better) things when they leave. Maybe if you lived in a big city, you'd need to move to another area, and this would be enough because cities are so huge that one section is vastly different to another! But for me it would be 647 kilometres of distance...
This was my first place in Melbourne!
Besides relatively small periods of time staying with my dad during the holidays, I had only ever lived with them. Even more bizarre was the idea that my parents had never lived together without me before. They got together when I was 3 years old. Would the dynamic change completely? How would they cope with just two people? Would they drive each other crazy? At one stage my mum worried/joked to me that she would have no one to gang up on my step-dad with! [Well, of course, they are coping just fine! Haha!]
So it was a sad thing to be doing, leaving my home, but it was also really positive, because I was going to do something extremely satisfying. I was going to start a degree that I was passionate about, and I was going to prove to myself that I could make my own way. As I said before, it also felt like time for me to be moving on. Canberra started to feel stifling, although a part of that may have been that I had just spent a year doing nothing except work.
I wonder if leaving is much easier for children than it is for parents. I know that for my mum there were conflicting feelings of pride and sadness. While it too was difficult for me, it also felt like a natural progression, which I think made it easier. What I don't know (because I am nowhere near close enough to being a mother) is if, although hard, having your child leave also feels somewhat like a natural progression.
I moved here. I accomplished that. I started uni. I had basically no friends. But that was okay because I fell in love, and so spent my time with him or at school. Slowly I made friends, first some, then more. I was surprised at how long it took. Everyone seemed to know people outside of school and so friendships hardly ever extended outside of the classroom. This didn't bother me too much though because I knew it would eventually get better. It was only until the end of first semester that people really seemed to open up. Something about the unity in stress.
One of my biggest problems though was (and still is) the concrete, it's everywhere! Isn't it funny, I thought I had grown up in a city, but it wasn't until moving to a city that I realised that I hadn't. This changed how I saw myself too; I had always thought I was a 'city person'.
When I was little we had lived in a country town and while I loved it there at the time, when I was older I was pleased that we had moved. Cities contained the possibility of diversity, a more thriving artistic community, and less mono-culture. They were also less conservative and provided a better education (although I suspect that these last two conceptions are more in relation to Canberra). Now I'm not saying that I thought these ideas were the hard truth. In fact, if we get into it, I can't say I believe in any absolute truths. But staying on this level: they were only loose, general thoughts on why I found cities better.
Sure, I love all the excitement that cities hold. I do love being able to go out, the coffee culture, the variety and creative expression of people, and the vibrant communities and community events. (I just cottoned onto an amazing community radio station, who are heavily involved in local communities!) For now, I do need to be here, and it does feel ultimately right. My degree is here too. I think I need to fully let my party spirit go out and have fun, and let it all out, embrace it... for now. But I say this knowing that that's not me forever. In general I enjoy nights in, and small amounts of good company. Maybe as I get older this feeling will only increase.
But back to concrete, it's what pains me. The natural world is not encouraged (I believe that that is a topic for another blog post though!) You see in Canberra - you look up anywhere and there are always the mountains (It's Australia, so hills really) surrounding you, covered in bush. From my home, and from the homes of most of my friends it's only a 15 minute walk into a reserve. True cities have an ever-extending feel to their horizons. At times it's as if being trapped in an artificial bubble of pollution, mess and chaos.
For me being in nature is a spiritual thing, and a connection that is essential for functioning as a person and a member of this world.
I had thought this was something that could still be maintained in a city, but I no longer feel this. Maybe sometime later I shall tell you my thoughts on modern cities and sustainability.
This feeling of entrapment and desperation is what lead me to strive and find a way to reconnect with the world around me. I started writing this wanting to show and tell of my new plants and the start of my vegetable garden, but the story behind it got too large! I guess it will have to be a follow up post!
I have many theories about what I believe in and many things that I am still working out. I became a vegetarian when I decided that my actions were not corresponding to my ideals and that I would not feel right until they did. The other day I realised for the first time that I knew who I was, not completely because I don't think anybody really can, but basically I did. This came as a relief and a surprise, as I had (like so many teenagers) spent the last few years tormenting myself with my lack of self-identity. Maybe it has come from moving out of home, it probably played a part in it, but what it made me realise was that I need to again bring my actions to reflect my passions and ideals. And so these plants were my first action with this in mind.
Go forth and prosper little guys!