Christmas and the joys of small towns

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Christmas holidays are always a strange time of year. It seems strange that we as modern and educated human beings feel compelled to annually go to the effort of packing a bag, taking time off work and venturing back to our home town to spend time with family members with whom we have little in common.

In my case, I packed my bags and headed back to my home town of Coffs Harbour. A tiny coastal hamlet on the eastern coast of New South Wales in Australia, and a place where I spent the greater part of my childhood and early teens. When I say tiny, I mean tiny in comparison to the capital cities which I now call home, as it is a reasonably sized coastal town – a regional capital, one could say.

Coffs Harbour is a thriving coastal town with just over eighty thousand residents, and seems to function mainly on the massive waves of tourists which find their way to the region whenever this side of the earth is closer to the sun. They come in droves to the area and spend countless millions of dollars on accommodation (with some holiday apartments commanding up to two thousand dollars per week) and at local restaurants, all the while wondering at the marvel of the beautiful area that is the mid north coast.

The residents of the town are patriotic, if that is the appropriate word, of their little coastal town. They love the quaint remoteness of the town and the proximity to the wonderful Pacific Ocean, which forms part of the culture. Every day there are hundreds of people who grace it’s pristine shores; some take their surfboards to the beach and are in the water at the crack of dawn; some go for an afternoon swim after finishing work; and others still simply wander along the shore and enjoy the feeling of the sun on their skin and the gentle sea breeze through their hair.

Unfortunately, my love for this town has disappeared. Once I counted myself as one of the locals. I would wax my board every morning before school and go for a surf or smoke enough pot to make a bull catatonic and float my way through the day. Something about the town, though, always made me feel like I was missing out on something. I felt that something was out of place. In the end, it turned out to be me.

This simple little town is full of people who are content to live out their lives in whatever manner is deemed fit by the community at large. There are the alcoholic gamblers, staggering to the bar at the local pub for the fifth time to get some extra cash to put into the pokies; there are the surfies, complete with blonde hair and golden skin, spending day after day in the ocean or getting hopelessly high while they wait for the next decent day of breaks; there are the white trash, the closed minded hillbillies and the fools I used to call friends.

So what has changed? To put it simply, it’s me. I simply am not happy any more with any of the activities which seem to be commonplace in this town. I cannot stand the idea of surfing all day, nor does the idea of drinking myself in to a stupor hold any fascination.

Unfortunately it leaves me as a bit of an outcast. I do not fit in to this town any more because of the changes which I have made within myself, but I don’t fit in to my city of residence. Certainly it is a little closer to what I crave – there are much more opportunities for mental and cultural exploration there, but it still does not feel like home.

One of these days I hope that I will find my home. I hope that I will find a place on this great earth where I find people with whom I can share my experiences and outlooks on life and the greater world.

Until then, I’ll finish my annual pilgrimage to this tiny town and return to my current foster city, hoping every day that I will see a path towards enlightenment open up in front of me. 

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