Crinkles on the road to happiness

Allison Tait blog
Posted on November 23, 2010

Last night, The Builder and I watched part two of The Happiness Project on the ABC. While the positive psychology is all very nice, what we love most about it is the trip it takes us on. Right through our old stomping ground in The Big Smoke.

Two years into our treechange, it stirs up all kinds of feelings.

The fact that our old suburb made it onto some kind of ‘top 10 most depressed’ list is disconcerting. It always seemed a pretty happy place to us. Maybe because we were happy there.

We keep spotting landmarks, cafes, parks and shops. All ‘our’ places. Only they’re not any more.

Part of me felt sad about that. I still miss it in a way. It’s a vibrant, multicultural area with a lot of colour and movement.

What I reminded myself last night was that all that colour and movement was beginning to exhaust me. Along with the parking situation. Now that I think about it, the parking situation may well be why our old suburb made the ‘most depressed’ list.

This morning, I did the school run and came home and ironed the shirt I was wearing. I was going for a walk ‘up the street’. I confess that I would not have worried too much about this if I were still living in our old suburb. I would have carried on regardless. But here, somehow, it matters more that I not be caught out in a completely crinkled state.

Part of me found this a little bit sad. It’s taken me two years to become someone who cares about this?

Twenty minutes later, though, I was glad I’d made the effort. In the space of one block, I ran into five people I knew. They’re not people who would judge me for an unironed shirt, but I was still pleased to be presentable.

I knew a reasonable number of people in my old suburb. But the chances of me running into five of them in one block were small. More likely, it would have been me and 1000 people I’d never seen before. Hence the lack of ironing that occurred in our house.

Five different friendly conversations in one block. I guess this is what they call ‘community’. And it’s worth the ironing.


  1. Kellie

    This is what I love about living where I do. Although, I must admit, it’s the thre-year-old who now seems to know more people than I do!
    This post has made me think of my late nan though. She wouldn’t go out the door without her lippy on. She’d be horrified if she forgot it.

  2. cjtato

    Oh how I love a lovely little community. The area where the girls go to school is such a tiny little community and I would move there in a flash. Just love it!

  3. Sheila @ A Postcard a Day

    At one time in my life I felt that being in one place for as much as three years was an eternity, but I at the same time I remember the feeling of a new place, not ever seeing anyone I knew when I was in town. It took a while to become part of a community, but I think it also takes some effort to become part of it. Ironing, I’m afraid, was never part of my effort. Maybe that’s where I went wrong.

  4. Catherine

    If it made you feel better then the ironing was definitely worth it.

    I’m also impressed (and a little bit jealous) that you had 5 conversations in such a short amount of time! I haven’t had 5 conversations in my neighborhood in 2 years.

  5. Mila

    I have always longed for a community where neighbors do weekend barbecues, play board games and stop for tea.

    Unfortunately, I live in an area with great urban sprawl, but when I sign up to volunteer, I get a little bit of the human connection through them.

    I think you are doing a good job creating a community here of your own.

  6. Cheers!

    Sounds like you live in a wonderful place!

  7. tinsenpup

    I envy that sense of community. We’ve lived here nearly eight years and still feel like foreigners. We’re happily preparing to move, hopefully somewhere that feels a little more like home.

  8. Frog, Goose and Bear

    We have lived in the country a number of times over the last 10 years and there is nothing more thrilling for me that makes me feel more part of a ‘community’ than running into people that you know down the street, know enough to stop and chat that is. We moved around a lot and were often only in a place for 3 – 6 months so trickier to find that sense of community. I love that about living in the country – reminds me of my childhood (in the country).

  9. Catch the Kids

    Ironing. I just got the guilts because my son went to school in an un-ironed white shirt today. Thank goodness his blazer covered most of it.

    Five people in one block? What a lovely community.

    It must take ages to do the groceries though!

  10. therhythmmethod

    I love this post. Your town feels a lot like my town, even with the wrinkles.

  11. Amanda

    I’d never really thought about it but one of the reasons I’ve overcome my reluctance about living in the ‘burbs (of Perth) instead of the inner city (where we could only afford a shoe box – fine pre-kids …) is that now I walk down the street and always see people I know. This probably has more to do with being a new mum and knowing a tonne of other new mums than suburbia actually being a better community but I do rather love it.

    For the record though I do wave off my husband to work while in my dressing gown. And yes, see people I know while doing it. I’m embarrassed at the time but not enough to change my habit!

  12. anjwritesabout.com

    What I love about Manly is that, even though it’s not that small (and definitely overstuffed with tourists), when your kids go to the village school in the centre of town you run into people you know all the time! And some of these mums really know how to dress, so it makes me up my game! 😉

  13. make love not waugh

    Dear Life In a Pink Fibro,
    TAG you’re it in the versatile blogger award chain gang.
    love Mel

  14. Raine and Sage

    Oh how I relate. When we lived in Sydney Potts Point area; we’d still make an effort to get the paper on a w/end. Now we’re in Brissie and we have let ourselves slide dramatically. Parenthood and lack of sleep, does create a “I don’t give a toss what others think” philosophy. Never had the relationships and community feel that I have in my neighbourhood now, and I do love it. God I’m in the ‘burbs and loving it?!!

  15. Lucy

    Al, you echo a lot of my thoughts here.

    We live at the edge of suburban Adelaide, in an old settlement area, which is very villagey.I suspect that is where my ironing addiction was settled too. Between kindy, school, exercise, the shops, the park, and the cricket club, I am involved, somehow. Which creates a need for me to be presentable…

    And in a bizare small world way, the lovely husband and I bought our first house in Marrickville….

  16. Dorothy

    Sounds like you live in a lovely community. I’d like to know that many people where I live. It amazes me how few people walk the streets here, despite how close everything is. I walked to the milk bar this evening in my daggy short shorts, and I did thing – what if somebody sees me? And I didn’t really care. It’s evening, it’s hot, we’re all in the same boat…

    And I really enjoyed the show last night. It actually made ME feel better. I loved the helium exercise…!

  17. Madame Marielle

    Hi Allison, new follower just saying hello! I envy the sense of belonging a small town community must bring to you.

    On a side note, was the program any good? I recorded it, not sure if it’s worth a run-through esp if I’ve missed the first episodes.

  18. Wanderlust

    For me there’s comfort in both anonymity and familiarity. As I get older I enjoy more of the latter, not surprisingly.

    You know how psychologists say that smiling, even if you’re not happy, will put you in a better mood? Well, I think that making an effort to look good makes us feel more confident and outgoing. I know it does for me. Not to say that we can’t enjoy our grubby days (I’m in sweats as I type this!), but I think taking pride in our appearance is not necessarily a bad thing.

  19. Tenille

    Part of the attraction of Sydney for me was the relative anonymity. But that was when I was a lot younger and single. These days I chat with my neighbour over the back fence while we hang out our washing.

  20. Bodaciousboomer

    Five conversations? That’s a lot. I don’t know five people in my neighborhood that I’d want to speak to.

  21. ClaireyH

    Now that my girls are out of the infant feeding stage I feel like I want to look better too, over the last few months imfeel I have that extra ten minutes to myself. But with infants around and bf, I just wanted to be dressed full stop and found the rest way too hard.

  22. allison tait

    LOL Jamie. We thought the same thing. Enjoy your little patch of paradise!

  23. Jamie

    Oi, that’s my home town! I watched the show on iView this morning. Well, I lasted 10 minutes before I switched off. What a miserable program! Mostly bollocks, too.

    I’ve lived in Lane Cove, Glebe, Chippendale, Newtown, Annandale, Hobart, Glebe, London (Willesden Green), Launceston, Glebe, Artarmon, Ermington, Glebe, Kirribilli – did I mention Glebe? – and Marrickville. Been here in Marrickville 20 years and it is outstandingly the best place I have ever lived in. Rusted on to Marrickville, we are.

    Hopefully that show will scare off all the miserable bastards from coming here and ruining the atmosphere.

  24. Foxglove Spires

    It is interesting how things in life change, and the journey we take, with becoming comfortable with where we are.

    Have a wonderful day . xxx

  25. littlemissairgap

    Agree … it’s worth the ironing sometimes. I just wish I had more “worth ironing” moments where I live.

  26. Victoria

    I always feel more confident if I’m dressed appropriately for the situation. Nothing worse than standing out like a sore thumb, either dressed up or down too much! Mums here in my town seem very dressed up for the school run, but to be honest i don’t try too hard to follow suit. I am of course a foreigner here and I’ll always be looked at and listened too (discreetly of course) because I’m different. But thats fine by me.

  27. Christie - Childhood 101

    It’s funny, after being in our more community minded corner of suburbia for 10 months, I still feel uncomfortable with how familiar this ‘community’ feels to me. I don’t want to have to change out of my pjs to check the mailbox but here I have to whereas in the city not so much – more people would see me but none who knew me?!?!

  28. allison tait

    LOL @jen. I usually do wear t-shirts. I have a Mum uniform of t-shirts and assorted pairs of pants. It’s only when I try to break out of the rut that things go wrong and ironing is involved. Hmmm. And the message of the day is…

  29. @jencull (jen)

    That is what I love about where we live, I go outside the front door and my neighbours are doing their garden or I go down the village and meet someone I know. Ok, I don’t know that I would iron for them (wear t-shirts, body heat makes the wrinkles fall out!!) but that sense of community is great:) Jen

  30. allison tait

    It’s funny you say that Cate. I often tell the older ladies down the street how nice they look. I love how pulled together they get to go shopping. Puts me to shame!

  31. Cate

    There’s nothing wrong with making an effort to look nice – in fact I think it is very important for self-esteem. I had an elderly neighbour who used to put on a suit to go to the supermarket…I love that!

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