Being ‘out of place’
I decided to re-visit a place I have known before, not like I know it now anyway. It was the first time I visited Burleigh in this way. I have lived on the Gold Coast on and off for the last twenty odd years. I guess you might call it my home. For the first time I was encouraged to see the Gold Coast like this on a completely different scale. Observe the nuances, and changing atmosphere as a kind of traveler. How amazing it was after the children had grown up and now I was free to travel to my hearts content, I fantasised all this, as the lights sparkled and twinkled in the night, after I arriving. I was really happy why I had decided to call this place my home, the Gold Coast that is. How the full moon tonight was waxing, and waning to become full of itself in the moment I was about to share now reflecting back. How I suddenly felt the shifting and feeling of being ‘out of place’ too.
I was watching a series ‘Revenge’ with some family members quite by coincidence as it all happened, something they recommended, and so I was about to experience that too. They had arrived home from an overseas vacation themselves from Hamilton Island, a golfing and degustation tour. Everyone is on some journey somewhere, you could surmise. So now I was in now two places at once in the Hamptons, bizarre and here with them, and so this was quite different to my traveling experiences I have ever had in the past, surreal- something I had never experienced before not in the way we know of travelling. This is an eerie experience of places in the real time, the sense of knowing where I was but elsewhere all at once. Fractured you could say. It’s how it is these days as we are engaging with technology, and constantly viewing, and re-viewing things obsessively. It’s disengaging and you just feel like you sense you are lost and a piece of fragment in the universe as there are constant interruptions, and disruptions endlessly, and no-one place including space and the displacing of that.
I had travelled to destinations before, like Brazil, Chile, Austria and others. Have immersed in living there too for a sliver of time in so many other capacities. I wondered what that might mean, but for the first time I realised I was in a place quite not what I had ever known before, my own. I was the alien and this was my homeland- my place of security so to speak, but it was fading in and out. As it occurred then I adjusted my focus, feeling a bit like an extra terrestrial.
I felt uncomfortable as the sirens started to sing different tunes of meanings. Warning of dangers emerging. I felt unsafe all of a sudden, as the salty oceans crashed, smashing their own beginnings and endings on the shore below me, as wave formations. I could witness these energies from where I stood and listen, feel that vibrational thing, and merge with the city lights glittering gold, red and blue flecks of reasons while the groan of traffic zooming on the highway nauseated me, and the sense of alienation distracted me. A pushing/ pulling feeling… Like I was in vertigo state and falling off the edge. This was how I was feeling honestly. I reflected then by refracted memories as that noise came into thoughts as I too was remembering travel moments. Like I was in glitch. I got on with preparing my evening meal that was Indonesian influenced while sipping some Chardonnay adding spice I remembered while on a school excursion to Jakarta meeting an albino Indonesian, it was a ghostly experience. I felt like I was a ghost now too.
One time I was mesmerised by the lights of New York, as the snow was falling on me in an opened touring bus, it felt nice and refreshing, and I witnessed that night the ‘Statue of Liberty’ beckoning me. I felt a weird sense of nostalgia as I drifted inside the glow of the full moon tonight, and the cityscape in close distance here on the Gold Coast attracted me as if I was in Times Square too, how it had shifted me because I had been there before. I was alone in these thoughts really as a traveler in unknown spaces, destinations/dimensions- something I could never have known, or felt in this way had I never have travelled anywhere before. It was possible to think like that, I thought. Everything seems to trigger memories. Points of references are thrust at you in many ways these days in movies, in books in everything you might be seeing on-line- you might notice after realising were are all travelling between different points of reference at any given moment. Signs always telling us stuff. As if you are watching yourself inside the screen but really finding yourself on the outside looking in- it’s displacing.
So I started to feel alienated, but secured and weighed down. It was like I was anchored as in some way as this was my ‘homeland’ for some reason, and I with my family anyway and safe. I was an Australian citizen too, and born here. Born in Sydney in fact -Crown street Women’s hospital. So as this was evidently reminding me this wasn’t my home at all not in the beginnings sense of things, I started to rewind then, and absorb the realities that I was on my own life journey and belonged. How many homes we all might live in our lifetimes. I began remember them in sequence. Like a tourist remembers destinations.
While I though about this Hamish was at my side purring. Hamish is my eldest son and partner’s cat. The one whom I have spent the last days with, and even I came here to babysit him, it was bit more like a holiday away. We became comrades watching storms, and cyclonic conditions, as the house swayed beneath us, and we were becoming aware that the house might slide done the hill at any given time, but didn’t. We came to be weathering that weather cell together, and we became very good friends. Hamish is a tabby cat by the way- he was from the animal welfare shelter, and came to live with here as a kitten two years prior. I had travelled from my home in Chevron Island to babysit him. It’s not far. Not really. It’s close in proximity. So as destiny shifts us to this location at night right now I will quiet my mind, and even with shifting thoughts, and bring it all together in a true story form. The truth about some travels I have experienced way before now, and will influence how I come to consider what is journeying in this progressive state of tour. It is displacing really. This sounds a bit crazy and it might be, that I am a time traveler. I laugh out loud with my thoughts, since this was all a conversation in my mind with myself.
Anyway this home is positioned high on a hill in Burleigh Heads. It’s a something near as terrestrial I have felt anywhere so far for a while. I haven’t felt this close to that mood besides the times I dissolve watching movies or lost in a TV series it’s an uncanny familiar- especially because of the views to the beach, and with hinterland views all at once. Hmmm spectacular and almost like a new Hollywood. This is how was sensing it, and feeling out of place. It was then I realised that I was far and away from the Hamptons, that desolate place somewhere else that intertwines greedy lives, and dark moody expressions, real impressionistic tones of the dark and gloomy because of it’s proximity too close to the filthy rich and famous, and the dead lands, and those ideals. It made me feel so transparent and exposed. I realised it was that ugliness and it was why I was feeling out of place with now, not here, but somewhere else anyway it merged all at once inside me. In those out of place places we don’t really get to venture besides in thoughts processing. Maybe this was like that.
I decided to clean my teeth, and settle in for the night in this desolate place I had conjured in my head, as I considered philosophically where had I travelled till now. I kissed everyone nighty nights. I will dream about far away lands as I drift off to sleep maybe I offered, and they laughed at me. I considered every place is as dislocating as the next. I could see through the bedroom window the sports stadium and it was glowing but soon drifted out of sight, and as the electric sparks of picturesque shimmers of this alien city resonated with clarity through a newer lens. It came into view filtering once again through the window. I closed the shutters I was feeling so foreign. A foreigner, maybe I was just sleepy.
I found a peppermint in my bag as I was turning off my bedside lamp, and I sucked on it for a while, trying to relax, and I realised I was on my own journey to somewhere else. Noddy-land. Slumber had become me. I started to dream later as I remembered it when I woke up and had to go to the bathroom to pee during the early hours, and in that dream my boyfriend was telling me why not use your travel experience in Brazil walking in the favela and having to squeeze through the alley beside the police officer. I remember you were a bit touched/uncomfortable with that and it was right after that you broke your toe. This was all coming back to me now and I went back to sleep again, and pulled up the covers.
When I woke later that the sun had risen I found my son and his partner up and watching ‘Revenge’ again back at the Hamptons, Hamish at their side. The cycle was about to start again. But soon I would depart.
The day was majestic with orange hues, and warmed welcomingly -so we all had some Earl Grey tea, and toast with marmalade to celebrate, as we shared our respective days itineraries. I had started to feel I was coming home now. Well soon I would be heading back there to home. To Chevron Island where my other son was waiting patiently, and our cat Kitty meowed endlessly grieving till I would return. Maybe she has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember that she meows anymore. I could hear waves crashing now, and since the day was clear it was easy to see them, tufts of white greeting the sandy shore. Birds of many kinds flew above, and were twittering, squawking and swooping. The fragrance of native trees filled my senses I glanced over the rooftops, as I ascended the cobbled path, and if I didn’t know I was here, I really could have been somewhere overseas really in a jungle in some foreign place like Brazil.
In telling true stories especially like in travel writing, creatively non-fiction has an ability to change the way look at things, not just philosophically but by first-hand life experiences. The notions of what it might be human through opening windows for others to feel what you experienced, that isn’t fiction, but a set of facts stringed together to tell a story about your own journey in life, and how these might influence what it means to be human. As most of my work is experimental I like to play with details and find new ways to let the reader finally engage, play with and merge with it, and take the journey alongside as if they were my true travel companions. At least it was in this case, and with use of repetition, coming in and out of tenses.
In this piece that was what I had in mind was a dislocation. I like to travel into spaces, not just places, and it’s not about selling and the re-telling the location as some touristic destiny, but to open senses of realisation about the movement into space, moments in the energy of moving and of what the concept could then be to become a traveler philosophically, that might be outside the popular societal perceptions prescribing travel destinations in travel writing.
In using different spaces/places locations it becomes a bit blurred, as does time, as with difference it can the same and mundane, and at times eccentric and then toward the alienation on sensing of things. So in that a kind of time traveling might ensue- we must be always returning to destinations explaining things this way, and that. And we often find ourselves at the beginning again. But what if we jumbled it up- made it fractured. In the time sense this can be interesting as the reader- unless it’s mentioned must just use their imagination to procure ideas. In the time- based way it will be problematic as each travelled experience is an etching, to take the reader on a journey that already has been etched. So you need to transport them into this again, it will be the energy of the writing that is the engine. This is an attempt at that as many angles might get proposed like tools, the narrators voice, the choices of words in the spaces, the moving towards, that flowing of concepts toward the grander narrative in over view. There will be many platforms, many levels that will be felt in an ‘out of place’ way – that is the intention with my attempt in this work, hopefully the reader will be getting uncomfortable too, as they are being taken into the journey and feel ‘out of place’ with moment of being spaced out too. As usual a kind of schizophrenic set of episodes happens, it’s part of what it could mean to be human now. This is like brief snit bits as the brain is processing on overload and grasping at memories of places.
A sense of humour and serious thought maybe required. A sense of being ‘out of place’ might be nuanced this way as it was really written while travelling, living and blogging thoughts about my senses, and remembering where I have traveled before. How that idea was liminal as each moment unfolded. Not in a set order either, out of order, so hence out of place. This might sit at the edge of travel writing, if this is where its sits, I want the reader to feel sometimes discomfort like maybe like when traveling you have to sit with some unknown person, in some unknown place, and it become fleeting, as you pass through it too finally and with relief.
In ‘This House of Grief’ by Helen Garner took us into a life she traveled to document a court case, even it might be near and also far- this took us to many spaces, and places of grieving in the end leaving us to wonder in some sense what really did happen. After all the facts were presented evidenced wise in the courthouse and beyond – we as the reader too go down our own memory paths by becoming her companion in the courtroom, in her thoughts, experiences and as in narrative like if it was a movie scene we pan with her as a camera perspective. I wonder about the many other destinations we travelled in her story telling, beside the true account itself as we composed our own story of events, places and locations as travellers to the author’s. In these destinies how the placement of things in non-fiction form sensibility. It can be tricky where we draw the line between fact and fiction, and how it aids our sense of awareness about real life events. In the end life seems a performance of sorts and we become actors in it. It’s our moment ‘out of place’ that find us back in the place and make new understandings of life and what it means to be human.