My mum, who in terms of Australian travel has never strayed beyond the reaches of the east coast, has booked her flights to Alice today. This has got me to looking about the house and thinking, I really need to clean that, rearrange this, put these away and definitely get rid of that red back spider. It’s that thing of seeing your space through somebody else’s eyes and of course I want her to be comfortable whenever she stays with me. Something she definitely would not have been, had she woken up as I did with a bearded dragon lizard shuffling about the room, fixing me with his little eye and imposing stance.
In the past I’ve loved having overseas or interstate visitors. They renew your dulled perspective with their fresh gaze. So how does that play out in an amazing and troubled place like Alice?
Riding my bike home after work I skirted around broken glass, dodged drunken ramblings and staggerings, rode past the cops who had just pulled over to a bunch of people sitting by the river. I turned into my street and my housemate was on the phone to the police. A woman and her male companion had been having a fight out the front of our house. She was completely pinned to the ground with the man on top of her trying to tear her mouth at the corners with his bare fingers. She was screaming “Call the police!” after my housemates intervened and were also aggressed. The woman had a sit down and glass of water and didn’t want the cops called anymore, by that stage however the phone call was in full swing.
She was perhaps lucky my housies were in our front yard, laying out sheets of cardboard and weighing them down with bricks, to kill the couch. We’ve since replaced the bricks with big pot plants not wishing to contribute to the sea of violence that flows past our house between Eastside shops and the river.
I’ve been here nearly a year and will go to Uluru for the first time with my mum which I’m really looking forward to. But I guess what I’m wondering is, how will my mother’s gaze fall upon this town and what will that reveal to me?
Before these last two years in the Territory I too had always lived somewhere or other on the east coast. I remember coming back earlier this year after six weeks away and, with a fresh gaze, found some white couples walking their dogs along the river (on the foot paths), the young mums power walking with prams, older couples and lovers strolling, and some Aboriginal people fighting in the river bed. All this on a regular Monday afternoon. I don’t know if I’ve started to live alongside the violence with blinkers or with a dulled gaze that has become accustomed to it. It makes me sad though to see people inebriating their lives away.
There are all sorts of hypotheses and anecdotes about why there has seemed to be such angst in town recently, lots of funerals, people stuck in ruts because of town life initially reserved for a visit and maybe becoming trapped due to rains. I don’t know, it’s evidently incredibly problematic and I hope that my mum will see the reasons why I love this place and maybe through her gaze I will learn something too.
Pictured, above and below: The peace and natural drama of the Todd River are among things I love about Alice.