Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bubble living

Life in WA...
The sun shines every day.
The beaches are beautiful.
The river is shady and inviting.
The playgrounds are plentiful.
The political debate rages on about the sanity and moral soundness of Daylight Savings Time.
The list goes on, but the result is this: we live in a bubble.
Every day is the same, and I'm not just talking about the weather. People here do not like change. The most popular make and model of car here has been the most popular make and model of car for the past 30 years! The car seat design for newborns looks like something my mom wouldn't have opted to put my little brother in over 25 years ago, and the seats for toddlers aren't much better. The safest brands from the US and Europe are "possibly not up to Australian standards" and are thus unavailable on the market here. I know that's a small example, but really it distresses me each time I see a baby in one of those things.
Living in the Western Suburbs of Perth only increases the bubble by at least a factor of 10. The housing market is nearly impossible to break into. My Aussie friend tells me the average income of an Australian family is AU$58K. Houses in the Western Suburbs start just above AU$1 million. You do the math and guess the income average in this area. As is often the case with high income areas, the population is fairly homogeneous. Call it Stepford, call it the Twilight Zone...for now, we call it home.
Despite all the weirdness, I don't mind it. The fact remains that this is a great place for young families, and we are in that category. It could hardly be better for our girls! Ellie runs around in the garden with no clothes on most days. Stephanie scoots around anywhere and everywhere, meeting doggies and making friends. We eat breakfast outside nearly every morning. As long as we avoid direct sun, the weather is almost always perfect for playing outside. Although the summer is hot, I can count on both hands the number of days we actually used the A/C all day and all night, because the heat is dry and the old house with its high ceilings is nice and cool.
WA is isolated, geographically, politically, culturally...isolated. You can get to small island nations faster than you can get to Sydney from here. Isolation is bound to create a bubble effect. Sometimes I marvel at the thickness of the bubble (like the day I read the outraged and incredulous article in the newspaper about how shocking it was that President Obama made his first international priority the Middle East and not Australia), but most days I opt to take it at face value and enjoy it.
I will admit, however, that the local suburbs newspapers are a guilty pleasure of mine. We get two free issues a week, and I look forward to it each and every time! The issues people have here are amazing. I am so happy that there is a place where the biggest concern people have in their lives is the notion that a hotel might be built with more than 4 stories or there was a barking dog outside the grocery store that made some patrons nervous or...let's just pull an example from today's delivery, shall we? It's too good. It's about the evidence of foxes in the area, which seems a joy and relief to local animal lovers who have been concerned about foxy absence. The writer was so pleased to see that foxes were in the area, rummaging through trash, and eating scraps that she had to share a close-up picture of a Pink Lady apple sticker in fox poo, which the newspaper printed in full color. Yippee! This is breaking news, people!
We live in a bubble.
And what a lovely bubble it is.

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