Last week I read a rather thought-provoking post on Campari & Sofa about the reasons why people live where they do, and the things that draw people to certain places. (I was going to just leave a comment on that post, but then realised that I couldn’t do so succinctly, and so this post was born.)
I, personally, have not moved a lot in my life – Brisbane has always been my hometown – so I think you could almost say that I’m kind of just here by default. I sometimes feel like a bit of an anomaly in my generation, for various reasons, but no less because I don’t have a strong compulsion to travel. It’s not that I have zero interest in travel and exploring new places – I think that’d be an amazing experience – and it’s not that I don’t have the means or time for travel; but I don’t daydream about it the same way my contemporaries might. And if I’m not dreaming about holidaying in these far-off places, I’m certainly not dreaming about making a long-term move to a foreign country.
Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not xenophobic or otherwise afraid. I think I’m simply … complacent or content. I am also probably just really attached to my hometown and, of course, to the people in it. I’ve always thought that if I had to uproot myself, I’d probably go to Melbourne, a city where a lot of my friends and family already live, and a city that I’ve already visited many times in my life. The only daunting thing is that Melbourne is so much bigger than Brisbane. I generally think Brisbane is a good size: big enough that there are things to do and places to go, but small enough that it’s not overwhelming and it doesn’t take forever to get anywhere.
In my pondering, I also thought of a conversation I had with a taxi driver in Rockhampton on one of my visits. He was perhaps 50 or thereabouts, and I asked him about how long he’s lived in Rocky. (I usually find it easier to make people talk about themselves than to talk about myself.) He told me that he’d actually grown up in Rocky, had moved to Brisbane for work at one point in his life, but then returned to Rocky to settle down. His children had all grown up and moved to bigger cities, but he thought that even Brisbane was too big a city for him.
For those unfamiliar with Australian cities: Brisbane’s population is about 2 million now; Rocky’s is about 115,000, according to Google. In comparison, Melbourne and Sydney have over 4 million people each. On a side note, but kind of related, Google also tells me that the population of Paris is comparable to Brisbane’s, at about 2.2 million. This actually really surprised me until I did a comparison of land area, and found out that Brisbane is more than 50 times the size of Paris. I suppose our suburbs are just really spread out.
If I ever move away from Brisbane, I reckon I’ll eventually end up back in Brisbane, just as my cab driver returned to Rocky. But I don’t think that I’m impulsive enough to pack up and move somewhere on a whim because I’ve fallen in love with a place, so it’d have to be thought-out and practical. And then, if I do move (after so much consideration), it theoretically would not be impossible for me to fall into the same contented complacency with this new city. And then perhaps I wouldn’t return to Brisbane, except to visit the people and places I’ve left behind. (I almost want to move overseas just to test this theory out. Almost.)
I’ve previously discussed with fellow Brisbane-ites the virtues of living where we do, and one point that was raised was that it makes everywhere else in the world seem more magical. This might have been said sarcastically, but it is kind of valid. I mean, if I go on holiday, I want to feel like I’m on holiday, far removed from my usual life. And when I come home, I want it to feel like home.