“Two days in a row mate? You just can’t stay away!” A stark reminder of just how much I enjoy setting my mouth on fire with Sriracha slaw and indulging in shoestring fries at Lowlands. I now apparently also drink VB on tap but that’s a whole other story for another day. I’ve been really trying to embrace things a little bit more lately, if that means heading to The Family Hotel on a Monday afternoon, or riding my bike everywhere in the sun because I can’t afford to pay for parking, then well… that’s what I’ll do. Learning to roll with the punches as they say.
The heat was absolutely out in force, especially over the weekend, and instead of embracing the wonderful sea breeze that laps over the hill just touching my doorstep, some wonderful company and I headed to Mudgee for a wedding. Now don’t get me wrong, the wedding was beautiful, the surrounds serene, and the vineyards were incredible in more ways than one, but boy oh boy did I miss the ocean. When you’ve been on the coast for so long, you never really realize just how attached you are to humidity and the edge of our fine town until you’re in the middle of the country side and it’s 46 degrees and you’re wearing jeans. Apart from the heat, realizing that you can spot a Novocastrian a mile away was an extremely comforting experience. I heard one guest mention something about King Edward Park, thinking that perhaps King Edward, whoever that may be, decided to name a whole bunch of parks throughout NSW so I waited for more information. “Yeah I used to live in a Terrace house just on Watt Street in Newcastle, it’s just down from the cop shop”. And there I was, hundreds of kilometers from home, eaves dropping on a conversation about my house, and the occupants it used to hold. A true six degrees of separation.
I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately and it’s actually extremely comforting to know that Newcastle is really tied up in amongst the crux of who I am as a person. I also discovered my new favourite place. In line with how astronomically hot it’s been, at some points of the day, my west facing room becomes uninhabitable. I also discovered that eating two minute noodles whilst sitting in a drenched singlet directly in front of a Kmart fan can either be considered a new high or a new low, depending on who you chat to. (Who am I kidding, of course it’s a new high, the fan instantly cools the noodles to optimum eating temperature). Despite the temperature, I still wouldn’t trade it for anything else, but sometimes I need to go somewhere to ensure I don’t completely go mental. In front of the police station is Fletcher Park, and I swear you can see the entire city, or at least the complexities that matter most to me anyway. People seem to move around, through, across and of course down through the park, each carrying their own sense of complexity with a real sense of openness, because this tiny little corner of our town is a melting pot of juxtaposition, something that I am completely fascinated by and cannot wait to write more about.
Newcastle is all about finding a balance between holding onto the old, and embracing the new. Where does your identity lie? Can you spot a Novocastrian from across the room and cling to tales of what you’re all about? And what does being a Novocastrian mean to you when you’re so far from home? That’s what I would like to know.