One thing that I think about, living in an Indigenous community, is about belonging. Do I belong here?
The first year of living here I didn’t feel at home. I was probably being too hard on myself and on reflection, what a normal feeling to experience. I didn’t have many friends. The friends that I had were people that have in common our shared living location, rather than shared interests, so relationships weren’t naturally very quick to develop.
This is sea country and the people here are sea people. The ocean to me was distant; a medium that wasn’t easily accessible and potentially dangerous. Uncompromising tides rush in and out, day after day, carrying dark shapes and harbouring all manner of creatures that can swim better than I. Was it safe to enjoy the clear blue waters?
I live on contested country. It is not my place to travel wherever I please. This country belongs to others and at first this made it feel mysterious, gated, even ominous.
One year on, now that I am becoming more familiar, these corners of my life appear in a different light. As I get to know people and families, I know who to ask if I would like to visit somewhere. I am happy to know that people are living on their country, enjoying the plentiful resources land and sea offer, and keeping an eye on things.
The ocean is a dangerous place, but since I have walked on islands and beaches where people lived, schooled and learned, I see it is not remote and hostile, but full of history and so loved.
And my friends are funny, silly, hardworking, up-for-anything, fantastic crew…both unconnected to much of my life but absolutely crucial and without whom I might get caught in my own private whirlpool.
After one year, I have found a little place in time, where I exist and enjoy. But belong…?