Name, date of birth and place of birth. Three questions asked repeatedly throughout my life. It is so ingrained into me, that I can write it down in less than ten seconds. It has become part of who I am just because I’m reminded so often. Like an immigrant is so often asked where they come from, so am I. It’s just that my place of birth doesn't resonate in people’s memories.
The place of birth is Geraldton.
And for the first eighteen years of my life, home was Geraldton.
I learnt to walk and talk in Geraldton.
I made friends in Geraldton.
I passed my driving test in Geraldton.
I graduated in Geraldton.
Then my future was finally in reach, in my own hands. I could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone, whenever I wanted.
The world was my oyster and Geraldton was blocking me in.
I applied and got accepted into university in Perth. Started to travel; Australia and overseas. Made new friends, lost old friends. Got a puppy. Rented a house. Two years passed in ‘The big smoke’ but still it did not feel like home.
Just recently in one of my uni classes we were discussing rural versus city education. I was the only one in my class that did not graduate in a Perth high school. They talked about the weekend classes teachers organised, and resources and people they had available. School swimming pools, numerous unit options, high quality teachers and the list went on. They had so much more to take for granted than I could even imagine.
But then I realised something else.
I learnt more in my eighteen years in Geraldton then they could ever learn.
I learnt how to get past the furnace sand to the beach without getting blisters.
How to go fishing and crabbing.
To climb trees, and ride bikes on sand.
To find an outfit that works from only a handful of shops.
To keep my word, and always be on time.
To make friends and keep friends.
To be in the moment (And why not? Everything is only five minutes away).
To teach myself and do the best with what is at hand.
To put family first, friends second and to love myself and everything else will fall in place.
To always come prepared, but to live spontaneously.
To bring sunscreen and bathers no matter what they say.
The list is endless.
Geraldton has the lifestyle, the beaches, the ranges. It is undeniably beautiful. But what I miss is what I used to hate. How simple it is.
Geraldton was my home. It probably won't be again. But I thank Geraldton, and all its people I met in those eighteen years. Geraldton was not blocking me in. Rather, it was my starting point, and looking back, I could not have hoped for better.