As you may have noticed, writing is an activity I find quite therapeutic. The focus it requires helps me clear my head of all the ‘stuff’ that I have going on in there and see things in a new light, or at least help me affirm how I feel about them. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something especially big and scary, or if I’m having problems connecting with a particular person in my life, I’ll get my thoughts out onto paper in the form of a letter. Recently, on returning home from my travels around Europe, I found myself with a bit of a case of post-travel-blues. I was happy to be home, sure, but the comforting cosiness of my little town felt claustrophobic and limiting and I was finding it difficult to feel settled again after my time away. So what did I do? I wrote a letter to my city. I thought it might be nice to share some of it here.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope you’ve been enjoying yourself while I’ve been gone. It certainly seems like you have! Cruising through your familiar framework of streets, I noticed you’ve gone and fancied yourself up a bit. New cafes (they seem to be all organic or burger places; what’s up with that?) and bars seem to have popped up all over the place. I see you’ve finally listened to at least one thing I was raving on about before I left and started to include some cool little arts spaces in your mini makeover too. Props for that one (pun intended)!
I don’t think your changes are entirely superficial though, are they? Something bigger’s going on here, I can feel it. Well, whatever happens, however you think you need to change, remember you don’t have to try and compete with the sleek, sprawling metropolis of Sydney or the quirky cool of Melbourne. You don’t have to copy the ‘big kids’; you can go your own way, babe. And you don’t have to figure out what your ‘thing’ is straight away. It could be your sumptuous food and wine, your unspoiled landscapes, your country town charm, your hidden laneway treasures, your festivals, your business start-ups, your sporting events, anything. It could be all or none of those things. Don’t rush to find it, it’ll happen. Try new things, make mistakes (you know how I feel about the debacle that is Rundle Mall) and figure it out as you go. You have time.
You’ve had a lot of people leave you over the years (myself included) for brighter lights in bigger cities. A lot of us come back, though. And even those who never do end up realising what a brilliant foundation you’ve laid in our lives so that we’re prepared for the glare of those brighter lights. Adelaide, you’re like a microcosm of the big scary world out there. You’ve taught me so much, not least of all that humble ambitions are no less valid than grand plans and that sometimes the safe path isn’t a cop-out, it’s looking after yourself. Now that I’m back, I’m committed to making the most of the rest of the time I have with you, however long that may be. I might come and go, like so many of the others before me. But you’ll always be ‘home’ to me and I know I’ll always be welcome.
My dear Adelaide, you’ve got a lot going on these days and a lot to be proud of, so don’t let those cocky Victorians tell you otherwise. Keep changing, keep growing, but don’t lose what makes you, you.