|"... Mother-in-Law's [sic] 10c extra a kilo"|
Charming sign I saw in a local butcher's window.
(Not actually relevant to this post, but too good not to use!)
OK, I’m back.
That was the same question I faced back in August when I decided I needed to tell the little niggle at the back of my brain which chanted “you have to write a post, you have to write a post” to go take a hike, I’ll bloody well write something when I feel like it and, just to spite you, I’m going to put my fingers in my ears and say “lalalalalalalalala” until you stop.
It worked nicely. Without the self-imposed pressure of putting fingers to keys every couple of days I had time to deal with all the other stuff going on in my life and also to get on with demolishing and rebuilding a kitchen (which those of you who see my Facebook stuff will have had quite enough of by now).
During this break I’ve clocked up a full year of residence in central Victoria and have also been losing the extra weight I’ve been carrying around for the last year and a half. That’s actual weight, not a metaphor. Laying off the wine a bit has helped. Doing active things has helped. I, and the family generally, have turned a corner and, while it’s still not a bed of roses (when is it ever?), enough things are back on the straight and narrow for the glass to be looking half full rather than half empty. (Those are metaphors!)
Some years ago, back in Canberra, we had some friends who pulled up stumps and headed for the Sunshine Coast, without friends or any real roots there at all. Things didn’t turn out that well, and they were back a year later. However, in the meantime they found that they had grown apart from their Canberra-based network, and they ended up heading back north. It was an awfully disruptive time for their young family and, as we’ve tried to make things work down here in Bendigo, we’ve thought about them and how much we wouldn’t like things to turn out that way.
It has been hard to break into any kind of network here. The same can probably be said for any cold start in a new town. Friends don’t just drop in your lap – I recently read one of those pithy bits of advice that crop up on the internet which actually rang true: that to make good friends you need to be a good friend. Identifying and accessing settings in which to be a friend is the real challenge.
I’m someone who has moved town a fair bit in life. One of the reasons I have few contacts from my school days is that I never had the experience of going through school with one set of peers. I went to primary school in four different places and high school in two (not counting the three other high schools I attended during a year in South Africa). Such an experience doesn’t easily make for lifelong friends, but it does prepare one for all the rigmarole that goes with moving a household and starting again in a new town. What I’d never done before was move town as a parent.
Finding a social scene for me in my adult life has always involved getting involved in theatre. That requires a lot of one’s extra-curricular time and not a little flexibility. Those prerequisites are now absent because of the way we parent. Mrs G and I like to be there at home on weeknights, to eat together and see the minions to bed as often as possible. I know parents of young families who do manage to stay heavily involved in theatre, so I know we're not powerless here. What I’m really talking about is a combination of the way we run our home life with having to start a social life from scratch. Add to that the fact that Bendigo’s theatre scene is miniscule and insular, and you can see why we’re struggling. The old tricks won't work; new ones must be learnt.
When both parents work full time the opportunities to meet people through helping out at school are scant. All parents are regularly asked to contribute their time during school hours, but our working arrangements mean that we almost always have to decline. In addition we're not terribly sporty. We don't really watch any sport at all, let alone do the whole standing on the sidelines, shivering, while the minions participate in uniformed, organised chaos thing. So that avenue of expanding the social horizons is also not on our radar.
It would therefore be fair to observe that perhaps we should be more flexible about our domestic routine. The minions are old enough now that it’s no longer so disruptive for one of us to be absent for a string of week nights. It may, in fact, be a necessary part of forging ahead in Bendigo.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. We’re going to the set construction working bees for the minions’ school production and in the process we're meeting the people behind youth theatre in town. They seem a much more accessible bunch than the adult theatre types we’ve had contact with so far.
I'm also brewing a business idea which, if it comes off, could see me trade the drudgery of working in someone else's office for the possible drudgery of working from home. At least there I could only blame myself for having no fun! (For those playing at home, the reference to "brewing" is not a hint!)
And I’m resuming semi-regular posting here, as much for my own entertainment as anyone else’s. After all, if using the good plates doesn’t make you smile any more, you might as well put them away.