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January 13, 2010

road trip

This week myself, my daughter and our outrageous little dog embarked upon a road trip down to Melbourne. 
As ex-Melbournians now living in the Byron hills, we usually fly down to visit friends and family twice a year, but this time we thought we would try something different.
It takes roughly 19 hours to complete the drive from Byron to Melbourne but we took our time stopping in quaint little towns; perusing op-shops and bookstores, drinking coffee and ice chocolates and visiting with old treasured friends.
There is really nothing quite like the feeling of being on the road, under this great big, blue Australian sky. 
Personally the idea of driving around in the city makes me anxious, but give me an outstretched, wide open road and I could drive on forever, because that is where I do some of my best thinking.  
The idea of the road trip has appealed to me for as long as I can remember. I like the feeling of getting away from it all - from the well-worn shackles of domesticity - slipping in and out of different towns like a jewel thief in the night.
Back at home in Byron, I have become quite fond of my own anonymity and so traveling is almost like an extension of that. 
Among the artists and the hippies, the tourists and the retirees, I blend in around Byron Bay like a koala in a gum tree - which is to say I certainly don't stick out.
But in Taree for example - just six hours south of Byron - things were incredibly different. Although we were only there overnight, I spent all my time deflecting strange looks from couples (who may have also been distant cousins) as they glared disapprovingly at my tattoos and the embroidery on my Indian skirt.
Driving in and out of so many picturesque little towns - with their galleries and their delightful ocean views - I could not imagine myself living in any of them.
In Sydney I felt like a rabbit in the head lights, and I thought I might have a panic attack just negotiating my way around.
Looking back, I have always felt most comfortable in Byron.
When I moved there three years ago, I did not know a soul and although I have only made a handful of friends, it seems I am happiest living in that eclectic collage of people - with my own tribe so to speak.
For me it's not so much about knowing a thousand people. 
The friends I have made are treasured and I don't need a crazy social life to make me feel like I belong.
No, for me it has always been about finding a place where I do not feel judged; where I can be comfortable in my own skin and where I can truly feel safe, nurtured, relaxed and inspired (oh the trials of being born a Cancerian).
But that is the thing about Byron and its surrounding Northern Rivers that I really love the most and it has taken me a crazy road trip to be able to pin it down. 
The majority of people living there have moved up to get away from the rat race, away from societal judgements and to distance themselves from the broken culture itself.
And so regardless of how much money you make, what car you drive or even what labels you do or don't wear, the Byron experience caters for everyone and because of that there is an inherent feeling of acceptance.
They say home is where the heart is, and although I still love Melbourne in the way you love a worn in pair of ugg-boots, these-days my heart belongs to a different landscape. 
Home is high up in the rambling green hills of Northern NSW and perched above the crystal blue ocean. Its a tiny town called Federal and I a happy there; it is exactly where I belong.

1 comment:

sweepyjean said...

That sounds like a lot of fun, Misha. Plus one good thing about traveling through a town is that the ones giving you strange looks, you're not likely to see them again any time soon! It's wonderful you have a home where you can be most yourself.