Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Home. It always baffles me when I tell people I live here and they say how jealous they are. Why do so many people wish they lived here? More importantly, why don’t I wish I lived here.
Before you continue reading this, let me say that this is going to be an absolute whinge. It will not make sense to most of you and I take no shame in the level of ungratefulness I am about to display, so be warned.
This place is purgatory. In fact, it’s worse than purgatory because it’s insanely pretty. It’s more like one of those Dream Crabs from the Doctor Who Christmas special. For those of you that don’t watch Doctor Who (you should though) the Dream Crabs latch onto you, then create a dream world to distract you while they eat your brains. As I write this I am legitimately chuckling because I have never come up with a more perfect metaphor for this place. It lulls you into this dream world, where everything is scenic, beautiful and quite frankly, just ok. There’s no worry about safety. There’s nothing to worry about at all really. It’s nice. Too nice.
Now I know what you’re thinking, I’m selfish, spoiled and ungrateful. Maybe that’s true, I could be all those things and worse. But here’s what I know. I love cars, skateboarding, video games, comics, anime, design, bikes, art, writing, photography and other weird stuff. I could be mistaken, but in the 7 odd years I have lived here, I have not found anyone around here who is into those things that are also my age. Not to mention the fact that there is no work for a writer like me around here. Unless I want to sell my soul to the Manly Daily and write pieces on how drifters are ruining the streets with their hooning, I’m out of luck.
I’d consider myself a somewhat positive person, I have my days like anymore else but I ultimately am happy most of the time. Lately I’ve been having these thoughts, frustrated and negative thoughts towards this place. I blame it. I blame it for me not being able to skate down the street without getting verbally abused by pedestrians who are wearing $3000 suits who should have something better to do with their time. I blame it for not having a cat cafe. I blame it for not being more open and accepting to the rest of the world. Then I think maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I’m being a dickhead. Maybe this place is amazing.
If the point of life is to find somewhere nice to settle down, be safe, have a nice place and eventually have a family so they can do the same, then shit, I’ve already made it. I can retire now. I’d never be anything more than a lemming wearing the cookie cutter suit, to the cookie cutter job, to come home in my 4-door automatic SUV with the my family stickers planted on the back. Is that a good life? Is that what I am supposed to want?
Honestly, if I didn’t need money I’d be fine. All I’d do is write, start my magazine, make Podcasts and skate. I want to be a writer more than anything but I want to do it on my terms. What I mean by that is I don’t want to write the bogus articles, I want to write about stuff that matters. I want to be an expert on cars, I want people to ask me questions. I want to have a little column called “Ask Lewis” where people ask me how to do cool shit and I tell them. In all my daydreams about my perfect life, money never comes into it. And here, in Sydney, on The Beaches, that’s not the “right” outlook. Money is everything here. If you don’t have it and you’re not working yourself to the bone to get it, you’re a nobody, a loser.
It’s not all bad. From a photographer’s standpoint there are few places as beautiful as here. All the photos in this article are within 15 minutes drive from my house or less. The one above is the view from my room. I’m crazy right? How can I be so oblivious?
I know that I am lucky. I know that I have it good here, but is having it good worth trading for being excited? Is it worth trading feeling challenged and feeling like you can go out every day and start something new? I know that I will never change here. I will sit in my room, writing away about the outside world, wondering if there is life out there. If there are people out there who may actually like me and my quirks.
When I think like this, I start to think, maybe the lack of creativity and weirdness here means that there is an opening, maybe I can be the catalyst to bring that to the surface. I think that surely there was a place and a time in the world where a bunch of people were sitting around panicking because there wasn’t any food not realizing that there was a forest full of food just around the corner. Maybe there can be culture here. Maybe there already is culture here and I just haven’t found it.
I think I need a holiday. Some time to get perspective. Maybe we all do. Maybe I need it more that most.
All I know is that every day I wake up, look out the window and smile at how amazing this place is and what I’ve come from to get here. That smile instantly turns upside down when I think about how I can be a better person that day. How can I make a positive change in my life? How can I start working towards something bigger? I still haven’t answered either of those questions. So I go for a skate to clear my head, then I get shunned everywhere I go. People treat me like I’m some sort of hoodlum, like I’m going to kill them and steal their wallet. Just because I have a skateboard. It never helps the situation, so I go where there aren’t any people. It’s always a dark car park, where I feel alone and isolated. I don’t see my friends anymore, they are all cops, real estate agents, bankers, lemmings. Everything I don’t want to become. They seem to be miserable although people respect them, so maybe they’re the ones with the right idea. So I sit there, alone in the dark and dwell on the shitty morning I have just had.
Surely there is more to life than this? Surely it gets better, more exciting and more fulfilling right? I hang onto that. I want to believe that it does get better. It’s been 6 months of me keeping that smile and positive thought in my head and nothing has changed.
I read an article the other day about Warriewood shopping center. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a shopping center on the beaches which is being redone and expanded at the moment. In the article there was a quote from the coordinator of the whole makeover. I can’t remember exactly what it said but it was along the lines of “the shops are being redone. More car parking, more shops. We want to make this a bigger and better shopping center so that beaches residents don’t have to go over the bridge to get to a quality shopping center”.
I was confused. I assumed she meant the bridge to the city. There’s Chatswood, St Ives, Belrose, Forest Way, Dee Why Grand and Warringah Mall shops all within 20-40 minutes from here, which is well before Sydney Harbour Bridge. That’s when it hit me, she meant the Narrabeen bridge. The bridge that separates the peninsula from the rest of the world. I found this really unsettling for a lot of reasons. Admittedly the proposed multi-story car park has a spiral ramp which I am really looking forward to skating. But the rest is just worrying. Why are people so against leaving here? I think you do get sucked in to living here and forgetting there is a world outside, a world on the other side of the bridge.
I guess this is my quarter life crisis. This is my angsty-teen punk song in written form. Where I whinge about shit that is really trivial but feels so real. I hope I’ll look back at this one day and think “that’s before I found who I was, who I am going to be”.
I don’t know why I wrote this really, but I needed to get it out. If you managed to read this rant and have any comments, even if you think I’m bonkers, let me know. I think I will end this post with a quote from one of my favourite songs, Spaceman by The Killers, interpret how you will.
“It started with a low light,
Next thing I knew they ripped me from my bed
And then they took my blood type
It left a strange impression in my head.
You know that I was hoping,
That I could leave this star-crossed world behind
But when they cut me open,
I guess I changed my mind.
Well now I’m back at home, and
I’m looking forward to this life I live
You know its gonna haunt me
So hesitation to this life I give.
You think you might cross over,
You’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea
You better look it over,
Before you make that leap
That was the turning point,
That was one lonely night.”
Do you struggle with these thoughts about your home town? Do you hate skating down the street and getting abused? Am I having a quarter life crisis? Or are you from the beaches and want to play video games too? Get in touch!