When I was in my first year at the University of Tasmania, I lived in Lutana. Apparently, some residents used to prefer to say they lived in Moonah East, taking from the adjoining suburb with the ‘better’ name. Although it is changing these days, when we first moved to Melbourne’s Brunswick East 20+ years ago, some people similarly were at great pains to point out they lived in Brunswick East (beside Merri Creek and the parks), rather than Brunswick or certainly West Brunswick (skirting the Tullamarine Freeway).
Perceived prestige is one thing, but cool names are another. I grew up not far from the spectacular Mount Roland on the north west coast of Tasmania. In its foothills were the wonderfully named, ‘Nowhere Else’ and ‘Paradise’. When we were contemplating moving to the Sunshine Coast last year, Johanna and I were putting in some votes for Mooloolaba, just so we could say the name (in the rhythm of oo la la!)
Just a few minutes walk along the esplanade from our front door is the aptly named Happy Valley. With Anzac Day last Thursday, lots of people took a Melbourne Cup-weekend-style 4 day break, so there was happiness everywhere in the valley. Families set up blankets, groups stood around public barbeques, kids splashed around in the low tide beach pools, people laid in the sun, the Sunday market was busy and cruisey. It seemed everyone was in low gear. People said ‘hi’ as you wandered past, and there were lots of smiles. Happy Valley indeed.
I can’t say I’m juggling my stuff as well as I had expected. My work in PNG has been demanding, so my working time in Melbourne has been squeezed. But my expectations of how this year might turn out are going pretty damn fine.
Of course there are some foundational things that make it so. A great relationship with Maria is probably top of the pile … amazing woman. And I reckon getting the right mix of ingredients in life is key. This last weekend there has been lots of exercise (tennis with Maria, a few swims, a gym session and a surf), plenty of good food (some cooked at home and some sampled in cafes), the pace has been slow (don’t rush, don’t complain, what happens happens), and then in the mornings I’ve done a couple of hours of meaningful work. Check out Maria’s blog from yesterday here. We choose vocational activities that take our best efforts and help make the world a better place while doing our best to saturate our lives with beauty and goodness.
If the little area between us and Kings Beach didn’t have a name, I reckon I’d give it one. Maybe Happy Valley.