Living on an island has its pros and cons. A benefit is I get to ‘get away from it all’ without having to actually get away. My island isn’t that far away from the mainland, less than a kilometre. It’s so close it’s still classed as a suburb of the city, and the region, that I live in. But it’s far enough away from the rat race not to have to worry about the rats. It has its drawbacks, that’s for sure, but that’s another story better left for another blog.
Living on an island, you are inevitably subjected to ‘island mentality,’ which may or may not necessarily be your mentality, but you are subject to it anyway. It doesn’t matter how much I stay away from the goings on and the gossip, it finds me sooner or later.
The fact that we are a small community cut off, essentially, from the mainland by a body of water, tends to make the community itself more people-orientated and people-interested. Small news is a matter of constant circulation. Big news is around the island in 24 hours. My husband once said to me that a body couldn’t fart on one side of the island without the other side knowing about it the next day, which is essentially true – although what started as a fart may end up as a colonoscopy. You have to keep an open mind around here. Nothing is what it seems.
My husband and I generally keep to ourselves, but we get along with most of the locals. We are basically a condensed version of the larger community, but a hell of a lot easier to categorise, if you have the inclination.
On the far side of the island we have ‘the gentry,’ or they like to think they are. A little more money and a lot less commonsense when it comes to the art of public relations than the rest of us. To the left side are the heinz variety set. You never know what you are going to get, from hippies to ferals, it’s a mixed bag. Over in our neck of the woods is the middle-lot who want to be left to their own devices unless otherwise notified.
The jury is still out on whether you have to have a french fry short of a happy meal to live here, or whether you start off all right and you end up that way after a few years of island life. I’m okay most days, but my reclusive habits have not gone unnoticed by the rest of my family.
I’ll admit I’m a little eccentric at times, but this is a product of larger environmental and social influences, rather than 3 years on a 3-kilometre-round island. In comparison to some of the more colourful identities, I’d say I’m pretty much holding my own at present.
Take the woman who lives in the next street who gets around on a battery-operated 4 wheeled scooter and tries to run you over if you get in her way. Even if you are in a car that is 4 times the size of her and her scooter combined, she will have a go. My strategy here is to try and avoid all eye contact in case she sees it as a threat, because she knows where I live.
Another lady who deserves a mention is known to get around the island doing odd jobs here and there. I often pop into her house to make sure she is still alive. She is the only person I have ever seen step on a rake and knock herself out as the handle has flown up and hit her square between the eyes. Up until that point, I thought that this was just a staged act reserved for old comedy skits. She has fallen from a tractor, fallen into a ditch, fallen from a boat, fallen from a push bike and stepped on at least a half a dozen nails. I have lost count of the times she has been in emergency. I have only known this woman for 3 years. Her heart is in the right place, but her body needs to be behind a desk where she can do no harm to herself or others.
The guy up the road who also appears to be in the odd-job game, in my opinion, should have quit while he was ahead a long time ago. He says he will do anything, which is true – the rub lies in whether he will do it properly or to completion. His last grand adventure involved an old boat that needed to be moved from it’s dust spot in a garage somewhere and out onto one of the moorings. He had just the trailer to move it to the barge ramp so that it could be floated out to aforementioned mooring. The only trouble with that theory was that the old boat had a concrete bottom and the trailer was full of rust. The trailer gave up the ghost just as he was getting the boat down the ramp. The barge service was held up for 24 hours before somebody could work out how to get an old concrete-filled hull off the ramp. Nobody could get on or off the island for a whole day. Aforementioned idiot disappeared and was not seen again until the fuss died down. Aforementioned boat was last seen beached and broken about 500 metres east of the ramp just yesterday.
Sooner or later, if you live somewhere for long enough, you become a part of the story. I’m probably known on the island as the ‘eccentric dog lady’ who drives the 3 kilometres around the island just so the dogs can feel that they’ve been out for a trip. I’ve also been known to terrorise an elderly lady on my motorbike when she wouldn’t get out of the way, and tell the local so-called electrician what he could do with his light bulb. I keep to myself most of the time, but I’m reasonably sure that my ad-libs have done the rounds on occasion and perhaps twisted themselves into epic proportions. The first time I pulled out of the driveway on my motorbike, nobody would talk to me for months. I must have been a member of the local bikie gang, but I will never know, and I don’t care. At least they leave me alone.
The next time you are thinking that you are living in Melrose Place and it’s getting to you, think about living on an island.