Getting naked with 790 strangers was less memorable than I expected. We did manage to break the Guinness Book of World Records entry though, previously held by New Zealand. The now-annual event started in 2014. A cafe nearest Perth’s aunofficial nude beach wanted to promote healthy body image (and have fun, and break world records, and get publicity, one could assume).
Anyone who know me knows I love naked. I’ve also mentioned it here at least once before. I had zero qualms about shedding my sarong and plunging into the Indian Ocean. To my surprise, there were more women in attendance overall, and even more women my age who showed up solo to participate. I chatted with a few who said they were either too embarrassed to ask friends along or their partners/friends were too lame to join the cause.
At the designated hour we lined up in sarong-clad pairs, each safety marshal responsible for 25 sets of people. Then we traipsed down to the sand and stood waiting for the signal to jump in. Music blared and people chatted and laughed as the drone was prepared (drone footage is a requirement for Guinness Book validity). Finally, it was birthday suit time! We ran into the water, stayed in five minutes with all participants waist deep or deeper, did multiple sets of “the wave,” and then went home to wait anxiously for the email that would confirm we’d managed to beat New Zealand.
So why do I say it wan’t memorable? Well, I suppose partly because I couldn’t find anyone to join me, and I wasn’t feeling particularly social overall. I guess I wasn’t in the greatest mood. Just reading my daily notes from the surrounding weeks is boring, so I’ll spare you. Basically, I spent a ton of time cleaning a house for sale and living on eggshells – a prisoner to the diseases of perfectionism and uncertainty. I was, essentially, a housewife. I worked out. I took a cupcake decorating class. I got an eye exam. I squeezed lots of limes. I bought an apron and some dresses. I made ice cream. I waited in lines to jump through government hoops.
I’d informed boyfriend, before moving to a city of more than a million people, that escaping to the deserted countryside every four weeks was a non-negotiable necessity. Somehow, nine weeks slipped by. My “refilling-tolerance-for-the-city” excursion kept getting put off. I kept waiting for the calendar to have room for the thing that I anticipate just as longingly as most people do the weekend.
Time Poverty Bankrupted Me
Finally, the dam broke and I hopped a train to paradise. Within three hours, I was netting grapevines and toasting the countryside sunset. I spent several days pruning trees, trimming hedges, and deadheading flowers. I learned Ron’s secret for permanently healing cracked render: over several afternoons, I cut, sanded, putty-ed, and applied silicone. I repeatedly strolled the length of Alma Road with Margaret, spent hours writing and doing blog chores, and shared endless amazing meals around their beautiful Jarrah dining table.
My lovely friend Jenny lives just a short bus ride south, so I luxuriated in a wonderful few days with her. We talked each other’s ears off, drank margaritas, explored the best bits of Dunsborough, took “nanna naps,” and broke out the weed whacker/strimmer/whippersnipper. Her son, an amazing chef, let me join him in his commercial kitchen one evening. I really admire his work. I broke open finger limes, made a lemon myrtle cheese cake, and prepped items for upcoming dinners.
Kicking Goals in Applecross
I returned to the city rejuvenated and with a plan in hand to stay that way. I’d been putting off one of my favorite things, housesitting, due to both inner and external protests about poor timing. Days spent caring for someone else’s space and fur babies are so incredibly enjoyable for me. A sweet pooch in a fascinating neighborhood filled with chirping frogs and black cockatoos was just what the doctor ordered.
I caught up on life tasks I’d allowed to be backburnered for months – financial planning, business chores, trip planning for a wedding in Portugal, sorting out logistics for a post-wedding mountain biking trip with Boyfriend, communication with dear friends, searching out an Australian place to pursue my olive harvesting dreams, finally connecting to local social groups, and discovering my breakdancing ambitions would continue to be put on hold: the wedding falls right in the middle of the class term. C’est la vie!
Daily walks through an affluent, riverside suburb produced plenty of mental fodder. I regularly found myself wondering, “Is that a house?” In regards to one particular building, I actually stopped to unleash my curiosity on two neighbors chatting out in front of their abodes. They laughed and indicated that it’s interesting living across the street from something so… daring.
One thing I adore about Perth, aside from the excellent preservation of green space, is the lack of zoning regulations. The homes people construct are absolutely fascinating. In my opinion, modern Australian architecture is very Frank Lloyd Wright meets the Jetson’s. But… sterile. Even the most typical constructions appear as aberrations to me.
But the sky is the limit here – you can have the most “stylish” (garish!) home you want. Complete, of course, with flourishes of cultural appropriation… stone statues of Attilla the Hun guarding doorways, gorgeous Balinese carvings accenting gates, Buddahs smiling from behind front yard fountains, and “Sah Wat Dee” (a Lao and Thai greeting) etched on an entry arch of a home where a disaffected white kid was lethargically dribbling a basketball.
And you know what else? Rose gardens. My awareness of Australian outdoor spaces was significantly heightened as Boyfriend and I looked for a new dwelling closer to his work. As we searched for a place whose backyard hadn’t been filled in with houses bA trend that is very “emperor has no clothes” in my opinion – people want to feel like they have their own places, so they buy homes with walls just inches from the next “house.” Essentially, these are glorified apartments to me – a house in name only., I came across lots of places with just the kind of green space that is essential for a country girl’s survival in the city. But located in exactly the wrong spot. Out front.
I finally realized, on my daily dog walks past dozens of blooming rosebushes, that the foundation of Australian culture is British culture. Which is part of the reason there are so many houses with beautiful front lawns and nothing but tiny, drab, brick patios out the back. And also part of the reason so few houses have the thing that is culturally important to me: a green lawn that isn’t on display for the prying eyes of passersby.
When my last day of dog walking and neighborhood pondering arrived, I’d finished organizing wedding attendance logistics and an impromptu journey to America afterward. Europe, here I come! ♣
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|b.||↑||A trend that is very “emperor has no clothes” in my opinion – people want to feel like they have their own places, so they buy homes with walls just inches from the next “house.” Essentially, these are glorified apartments to me – a house in name only.|