I have been here just over a week so keep in mind anything I say or feel falls under the first stage of culture shock, which, according to Wikipedia, is the “Honeymoon Stage,” or rather, the tendency to see things in a romantic light.
First of all, it is hot. Really hot. If this is my honeymoon mouth talking, then it’s actually 50 degrees hotter than how it feels. It is summer in Perth, and apparently it is an especially hot summer, so the heat is somewhat excusable. It is not humid, so it doesn’t feel like Singapore. It just feels like the oven’s on, and you’re inside the oven, and the door is closed, and your thighs are sticky. I am trying to do any necessary body movements (walking, lifting up my arms, moving my head from side to side) in the morning when the sun is still calm. Today, after walking the kids to school, I raked some leaves until it was too hot to be outside (9:30am). I am now sitting on the floor of our bedroom under the ceiling fan. This sort of heat makes a short mundane errand (post office) feel like a massive accomplishment. There have been thunder and lightening storms almost every night, which I love and makes everything smell like Maui.
Perthians, as my dear friend Alex has coined them, are friendly folks. In eight days, there has been one grumpy taxi driver and one silent furniture delivery man. Everyone else, from the wine shop guy to Bruno the school crossing guard has greeted us with enormous smiles, almost as if they’ve been anticipating our arrival. “Yippee, they’re here! Look! It’s a person! Hi Person! May I help you? Well you just let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, anything at all!” This sparkling and down-to-earth attitude has made our first week feel less isolating. Again, this is the honeymoon stage of culture shock. Australians are probably a bunch of assholes.
The Perth landscape is diverse. It is all at once woodsy, barren, Serramonte-like (for you San Franciscans) and tropical. There seems to be approximately one playground for every child in Perth, and one park per family. There are football (soccer) and cricket fields everywhere, and every variety of eucalyptus tree. There are new housing developments with Ice Storm type mansions, and more housing developments under construction. I hear there is a river in Perth (with dolphins wtf) but I have not seen it yet.
We moved from temporary housing into our house yesterday, so… pause for massive sigh of relief… we are HOME. We chose to live in an area called Shenton Park, which I was told by the gal at the art supply store is a suburb of Subiaco, which is a suburb of Perth. Like Boston, few people seem to live IN Perth. There are the Brooklines, the Newtons, the Dorchesters, the Cambridges, the Somervilles, and everything’s close by and everyone says they live in Perth but, when you dig deeper, there’s an alliance and a pride that comes with your district. Keeping with the Boston comparison, Shenton Park is perhaps Cambridge, somewhat in looks (particularly the tree-lined streets between Harvard and Central Squares), and its proximity to Boston proper. Houses are generally smaller than what you might see in Cambridge, and the majority are single-family homes. Our home was built in 1905, and, like many houses in this area, it has a name. Our house is named Henston. Given that we’re in Australia, it needs a nickname (Henny?). The house is absolutely lovely and feels very us. Lots of windows, high ceilings, beautiful wooden floors, a built-in chalkboard in the girls’ room, and… are you ready for it… a pool. Yes you heard me correctly. There is a moth**fu**ing pool in our backyard. Not big enough to swim in if you’re over three feet tall and like to get some exercise, but still, there is a moth**fu**ing pool in our backyard and it is ALL OURS, MOOOO-HAHAHAHAHA (but you can swim in it anytime. But it’s ours. Just sayin.). Our actual street is very Leave it to Beaver. It’s flat with little traffic. Lots of trees, and lots of good smells. We think we smelled citronella on the way to school, and something else related to jasmine. We are a 15-minute walk from cafes and bookshops, and Dave will have an easy 15-minute bus commute to work downtown (the CBD = Central Business District). So again, I know, I’m wearing honeymoon glasses, but come on people, a house named Henston and a pool? Even when the second stage of culture shock (Frustration) kicks in, and this housing situation might turn out to be way shittier than I thought, at least I can drown my sorrows in my own moth**fu**ing pool.