Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fee Fi Fo Fum I am not an Englishwoman!

The title sounds a little hostile I know but its not meant to be. I guess it is just a slow lumbering revelation I have had since I got back from Melbourne at the end of Janary.

I am feeling quite like an outsider all over again but this time I am harborouring a slightly delicious feeling of rebellion to all things English. I have buried myself in a few Antipodean things like books, films and music. Pete Murray and My Friend the Chocolate Cake have been staples on Tim the iPod of late - sadly Ian can not bear the sound of Pete Murray's voice beyond the first 2 turns of the album so I listen to him in my head as his sound evokes hot tarmac roads under a burning, bleaching sun somewhere in Australia. God I miss that sun.

I woke up on a rare sunny, Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago and before I allowed myself to remember where I was I lay in bed and planned my long, lazy Saturday. I would go for an early morning walk along the beach from Port Melbourne to St Kilda - something my sister and I did 4 or 5 days a week the year before I left Melbourne. I would then going to go for lunch somewhere in Acland Street or if I was feeling a little flush, The Stokehouse would do nicely. I would then catch the 96 tram into the city and wander around all those juicy little Melbourne laneways that I love and savour the diversity and uniqueness of the shops and cafes burrowed therein.

I would then catch up with my sister or a girlfriend I have not seen in years and find yet another cafe and spend hours over pots of tea, delicious cake and earthy conversation. We would talk about everything from food to God to the journey called life and back to what on earth they put in those muffins to make them so good. By early evening I would be thinking about where to go for dinner so I would call Ian, find out what he felt like eating and pick a restaurant to suit. I know I would fancy tapas and so I would drag Ian over to Pelican in St Kilda and we would wile away a few hours over a bottle or 2 of rioja and some delish tapas tid bits followed by a walk along the beach to end a perfect Saturday watching the sun set behind the West Gate Bridge.

Some would say I am homesick. I would disagree. This goes beyond homesickness. Being homesick is a condition that travellers find themselves suffering from when they and their backpacks are tired of each other and just want to go home to their own bed and bath. A homesick person is tired of being on the go, a different bed every few days and food that is hard to pronounce let alone eat. Homesickness can be cured by curtailing a trip and returning to warmer (or more familiar) climes. I get homesick when I come to the end of a holiday in Spain or Greece or even Ireland. I yearn for my own bed and my own routine and essentially my own kitchen.

No, yearning for a way of life you left behind many years ago knowing you can not simply or quickly go back to it - that is my description of homesick. Listening to Paul Kelly or Crowded House does not fix this, in fact it only makes it worse. Music evokes places and times past and when you are far away from those places the ache is only exacerbated upon listening. But I listen anyway. I realised late last year that I have lived with this underlying homesickness for years but managed to deaden it with the newness and excitement that living in a new country brings. However with the advent of our return to Australia fast approaching all the things I have hung around my life to distract me are fast losing their glitter.

I run the risk here of becoming bitter and resentful, even angry at all the things that keep me from living in my homeland. I was angry last night coming home from work. Angry at overheated buses that make me sweat in winter, angry at the fact that my knowledge of a past life in Australia gives me that terrible ability to know better yet not be able to change anything, angry that even the simplest tasks are made impossible by an ancient beuacracy that never changes, angry and frustrated that sunny days and clear skies are a novelty rather than the norm. I could go on.

As I walked home from the bus stop in the half light Pete Murry filled my head with summer days and big skies and I cried for the yearning that nothing can mend. I looked up at the sky and looked for Orion - the same Orion I was surprised to see in the southern hemisphere in January while standing in my brother's front yard. See I thought Orion was a northern anomoly. I looked vainly too for the southern cross - my sign that I am home, centrered and in another place. I cried for a moment and I waited by the front gate, taking in the cool night air into my lungs and composed myself. I opened the front door and heard Ian in the kitchen and as I stepped into his arms I remembered what it was that makes this life I lead worthwhile and bearable and full to the brim despite all the things that niggle and pain. As Pete Murray sings ... "I am nothing without you"


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