When I think of what this week’s theme “membership” means to me, I think of that Woody Allen joke – “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member”. I LOVE that joke! It totally applied to the relationships of my early twenties.
Anyone who has known me for longer than 2 minutes knows that I was born in New Zealand (because I somehow work it into the first conversation I have with anyone I would like to have any kind of connection with). I think sub-consciously, I feel this piece of information is vital to understanding The Essential Beth. The core of my very being.
When I go back to New Zealand, Wellington in particular, I have an awesome “a-ha” moment and I look around and think “these are my people”. It’s that strong. Brings tears to the eyes and a lump to the throat. I haven’t done scientific testing of this, but I’m pretty sure it would stand up to any rigor you could throw at it. People’s faces, the sound of their voices, the fashion and sense of humour. It’s a powerful and wonderful thing. But sad because I go back so very rarely.
But this brings me to my realisation as of today…. I BELONG in Marrickville! There is a club here, it’s called The Concordia (it’s a German croquet club) and I’m literally a member!
I did a little science experiment of my own this morning and Leo and I walked down to the train station with Jeff (as we do every weekday for whichever one of us is going to work that day). We didn’t do anything different, except that I took note of all the people we knew on our journey. It’s a 1.1 km walk and we left at 7:45am and returned at 9:20am (times make it sound more scientific).
We saw Jeff off and bumped in Maria, a friend from my mother’s group and walked her back to the station and saw her off. Then we went to the Greek bakery to buy Leo a bikkie which I always forget the Greek name for and chatted to the ladies there. Out the front our friend Gwen was having a coffee with her two golden retrievers Monty and Gandolf and her fella. We know Gwen from frequenting the local park. We nodded hello to Albert the shop keeper, exchanged greetings with our neighbour Vanessa as she walked to the station, and chatted to Richard the friendly check-out chap at Woolies (we see him every week at least). As we started walking up the hill we ran into Jo and Phil – a neighbour from the next street across and his boy, and then stopped to have a goss with Katie and her two boys when we got to our street. So that’s 13 people and 2 dogs in the space of 2.2kms. Not bad.
I’m sure that having a kid is like covering yourself in social glue – you’re easier to talk to, have someone adorable with you. But I think it’s also because you’re home more. You’re walking places. You’re taking an interest because a bit of adult conversation doesn’t go astray! Several weeks back I ran into a woman from down the street and we chatted. She has a newborn and has lived here for 3 years, but I’d never seen her before, and now we see each other all the time.
Belonging is a great feeling and one I don’t take for granted.