Underpass mural by Trevor Dickinson
My plan while I'm here is to spend time on the beach and in the water, and to think about what belonging to a sub-culture like surfing means when you are out-of-place. As a child of the sub-topical, wetsuit-free, busy, warm water, point breaks of northern NSW - where longboards and women are the norm - surfing and hanging out in Newcastle will prove to be, I think, a very different surfing world. While I like to imagine that sharing a love of surfing can help people connect, I'm interested to see how that plays out when two very different surfing worlds meet. Already today I met a young woman who began to fill me in on the strong local borderlines delineating who belongs where, hinting at an invisible but enforced set of rules, which she reckons I will personally discover with some haste. But, I suppose, we will see.
Even more significant, being out-of-place here in Newcastle is more personal than a lack of connections to local or surfing cultures and identities. The last couple of years have been pretty tumultuous and painful for me, ending in the death of my beloved mother in December lat year, so it is interesting to now be in a space and place and time that is so far from home, work and family, and from the numbness of my still-raw grief. I'm not sure what that is going to be like yet, I'm not sure what that is going to feel like, but I'm leaping into this project with an open heart. Mostly I'm excited at having time to write, to explore a new city and space, and to meet some new people. Newcastle is a pretty cool and beautiful town, so even though I'm only here for quite a short time, hopefully I can find my feet a little.
As a part of this short time, I plan on using my blog as a site to write, to report and hopefully to create a set of memories for myself - a place to store and archive the weeks I spend here. I have always found this blog as a useful way to 'think out loud', and help me remain accountable to the people, places and communities that I write about. Hopefully, by sharing what I do, see, find and feel, there will be something of value (or at the very least, interest) for someone other than myself.
Wish me luck...