It's important for me to sign off on this blog, because it's marked an significant chapter of my life. I'm a bit wary of repeating some of the material from recent posts (another reason to stop blogging), though I feel in need of closure. I set out originally write an aide-memoire, of living in Alice Springs, and that's what provided the narrative trajectory for the View, as much as it's possible for a blog to have one. As far as I know, this is the longest running blog about life in the Territory and possibly the first blog about Alice Springs.
Many unexpected things came out of my time in the Territory, and also from blogging. It’s often the things that you don’t predict in life that turn out to be the best. One aspect of blogging I’m loathe to leave behind is its unexpected serendipity (much and all as I hate that word, along with ‘synergy’)…almost everything I’ve had published that originated in a blogpost, I didn’t set out to write as a piece for publication. It just took on its own life. I may find I miss this unexpected freefall into creative recesses too much to stop blogging altogether, and start a new blog...who knows? I’ll post a link here or propagate it through facebook, if I do.
I'm now ‘unexpectedly’ back here in Melbourne, comfortable as a pig-in-muck in the golden triangle of Northcote-Clifton Hill-North Fitzroy, eating far too much food, buying too many cold-weather clothes (tho the Kmart long-sleeved numbers I’d been wearing for three years were never going to cut it in the Melbourne winter). I feel that ultimately I’ll make my base here, tho I’ll continue to dip in and out of the Territory. I’ve noticed that although people often return to Alice the first couple of years after leaving the place, gradually they move on. Amongst the expats I know, there seem to be two types, often represented in a couple: one who yearns to be back in central Australia, the other who might look back fondly, but sees the urban life as their true modus operandi. I suspect I’m more the latter type, although Alice made me more of a convert to the regional life than I ever expected to be. I’d try the regional life again, though maybe on the coast or somewhere wet and misty, like Tasmania.
One of the deal-breakers for me was realizing how quickly the turn-over people — i.e. expats — occurred. Long-term Alice residents would comment on how they saw whole groups of people go, and I stayed there long enough to see ten of my friends leave within eighteen months…virtually a whole social network. Up until that point, I was relishing the regional life…until I realized how unstable it could be in Alice.
I saw that I would have to go through the whole death and rebirth cycle with people, over and over again in Alice, and more quickly…and that the new people in town were getting younger and younger, as I got older and older. After about three years, you also start to become distant from your circles of friends elsewhere, and to miss out on some of the important events in their lives and vice-versa, those things that often make for long-term bonding experiences. So I thought I’d see what it was like to return.Alice is a place of extremes — of climate, of distance, of personalities, of social privilege, of racial divides. The sense of being confronted regularly by some basic issues of human need, survival and even hatred, as well as constantly being made aware of the cycle of life — how tenuous things could be — was ultimately wearing for me. You’re also less cushioned from harsh realities: shopping at Kmart and Target, arthouse cinema once a week and two cafes that make decent coffee are pretty much the mainstay fleshpots on offer in Alice.
Having said that, I don’t at all regret having thrown up the cards to go to Alice six years ago. It’s surely been one of the signature experiences of my life. But I don’t regret having thrown up the cards yet again to return to Melbourne.