Reflections on Home
THROUGHOUT THE MANY YEARS I’ve lived abroad, I sometimes get quite nostalgic. I wouldn’t call it homesickness but a certain patriotic zeal perhaps. A friend once responded to an email I wrote in the following fashion: ‘You always seem to miss Australia, but things here never change you know.’ Funny, I thought, for I had never said I wanted things to change.
A South African mate of mine said to me once: ‘You seem to be well travelled, where is the best country you’ve been to?’ I responded: ‘Australia, without a shadow of a doubt.’ He said: ‘Yes, I thought so. That’s why I’ve never been there — I fear I may like it too much and go there and never leave.’
Every year I seem to be overseas somewhere, and every year I write the same email home about the things I miss. The smell of Safeway sausages as they whistle and silently explode on a BBQ, the sound a block of Cadbury Fruit & Nut makes as it breaks apart in your mouth, the dinging of a tram as it lumbers lazily up Swanston Street in the midday sun.
But isn’t this all just perspective? When I lived in Australia, I never found myself skipping through the streets of Melbourne praising the sunburnt country as if in some sort of tourism ad. Never did I pull burnt onion from my teeth at a BBQ in Melbourne’s gloomy rain and think ‘God I love these tasteless rings of charcoal’. Never did I sit on a tram when it was 15 minutes delayed and stuck at an intersection and think ‘God I love this tram, it’s just, so great’?
Last weekend in Glasgow I stayed awake with my best mate to watch that holiest of Australian events: the AFL Grand Final. We had planned the night meticulously: 6 x Coopers Red Ales, 6 x Coopers Green Ales, 2 x Little Creatures Pale Ales, 4 x Four’N Twenty meat pies (how we managed to find these in Scotland is a story in its own right), 1 x bottle of dead horse, 1 x Poida mullet wig, 1 x deflated Sherrin football, 2 x Western Bulldogs stubbie holders, and of course, the dodgiest sports streaming website to be found on the world wide web.
With all this preparation, you’d think we’d have spent the game glued to the screen, screaming obscenities and spilling beer all over the nice carpet. You’d be wrong. Actually, we spent more time talking to each other and appreciating the time and place we were in. And when the siren sounded, we realised we’d hardly watched the game. In the end, the most memorable thing about the night was the company we kept and the conversations we had. And maybe that was more important than which team won or the fact we weren’t back home with everyone to watch it.
Oh, and the fourteen beers did help too. ω