When I was 23, I moved to Sydney. I didn’t know anyone. All I had was my suitcase and a new job. I lived there for 14 years, and when I recently moved back to Brisbane it was with a husband, three kids, two dogs, two cars, and a truckload of stuff.
It is a strange feeling to move to a city that you know well, but not really at all.
I remember the moment I realised Sydney was home. I had lived there for four or five years, and it happened when I was flying back from a trip somewhere. I sat gazing out the window looking at the scenery of the North Shore pass below me, and I was filled with a warm, comfortable feeling. A feeling of relieved anticipation that I would soon be home.
We have lived in Brisbane for four months now. It was a big move. Exhausting. So last week we enjoyed a well deserved family holiday in Vanuatu.
Vanuatu was great. As great as a holiday in a tiny two bedroom bungalow with no kitchen facilities and three young children can be, anyway. There was no sitting by the pool reading a book, for example. Indeed, there was not even any reading in bed at night since we shared a bedroom with our 1 year old – reading in the dark can be tricky. But it was nice, and we got to catch up with Hubby’s brother and his wife who are living there. We rode in the back of their ute without seatbelts and waved to the locals, we collected hermit crabs every morning after breakfast, we cheered for our almost 3 year old as she swam across the entire pool for the first time… Although not a restful holiday (that may be a long way off for us), it was good fun.
But as our plane approached Brisbane on Sunday night, I didn’t feel that special warm feeling.
I found myself wishing we would land in Sydney, drive to our lovely home in Lindfield, pop the kids to bed, maybe swim a few laps in the backyard pool, and luxuriate in our large open plan kitchen…
I asked the others whether they wished we were going to our Brisbane house or our Sydney house and they were unanimous – Brisbane, of course. I guess it was just me.
We arrived at Brisbane airport and I became completely disoriented. All of a sudden there was carpet in the baggage collection area. We weren’t forced to walk through the duty free shop. There was barely any line-up. Plus, the customs officers were friendly. It just didn’t feel right. And then I couldn’t figure out how to get to the car park.
But when we got home, my Mum had left the lights on for us. She had put some milk in the fridge and a bunch of bananas on the kitchen table. Our neighbours had looked after our dogs while we were away – taken them for walks, hosted them for play dates, and picked up all their poo. Our other neighbour brought across the mail that she had been collecting for us each day.
And when we walked in the door, I smelled our house’s smell. To me it smelled all woody and hot. Our daughter smiled and said it smelled like porridge and honey.
And then, at last, I got that feeling. I was home.
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