Thursday, 21 July 2016

On coming home...

This is our Manhattan living room, photographed by Jimmy. This was our home for a little over two years.

And now, we're back in Australia. We're back home. But is it home?

We've managed to make Manhattan a home for Jimmy and our apartment is the only home he remembers. It was a nice home, despite the stresses it (and being in the USA) caused. It was the first place Michael and I could set up from scratch (which stressful given how tight our budget was), and the lack of stuff was simultaneously refreshing and frustrating.

And now we're living with my parents, and my childhood home is home once again. Only most of our old stuff is still in storage, here with us and with Michael's mum. Stuff doesn't make a place home, but having some of our old things around us helps.

For me, the biggest things that make Warwick (and Australia) home are the colours of the landscape, the colours and sounds of the native birds, the smells of eucalyptus leaves, my parents cooking and the wood they burn to keep the house warm in winter.

It's actually weird to look at the photos of us in Manhattan, because the colours of my childhood home are so familiar, so right, that in some ways it feels like we never left...

But we did.

Well, I left my childhood home many years ago, only to keep returning. Like we did a month ago...

We drove from Manhattan to Kansas City International Airport, and flew to LAX, and then to Brisbane. The choice was more about reducing air-time and transfers, as much as reducing costs (it was slightly cheaper, possibly because of the 7+ hours in LAX). It was also an emotional choice. Once we landed in Brisbane that would be it - we would land and be in Australia and home and not have to take another flight.

And it was totally worth it. Landing in Brisbane was so worth the 7+ stopover layover in LAX. I wouldn't recommend arriving in LAX with anything less than 2 hours between flights, only because the place is huge and poorly signed, but with a long stopover layover and no need to go through a second security check and with our luggage checked through to Brisbane, it was the right choice.

We had a late breakfast at an old haunt (our flight was delayed a few hours in LA... hence the 7+), and the old haunt hadn't really changed, but many places had. Our old stomping ground had changed without us, but we have changed too. Our breakfast buddies have also changed in the last 2+ years since Michael, Jimmy, and I called Brisbane home.

Taking Jimmy to the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens was too good to be true. Another old haunt, the gardens have hardly changed in nearly 30 years, and we took Jimmy there every Saturday for a while, keeping up family traditions after a fashion. And then we moved... Jimmy looked at home in the Botanic Gardens and it was all we could do to stop him from wading out to join the ducks.

And after a while we drove to my parents place in Warwick. It is where I grew up, but Brisbane became my home and still feels like home, after living there for nearly 10 years.

As we drove to Warwick, the ever familiar landscape rolled by. I took photos from the car, even though the mountains are etched into my memory. The place that lays on the other side of the mountains is a place my soul can rest, where I can recharge. It's part of me, even if it's no longer my actual home.

And now it is my home again. But is it? We are in a state of limbo - applying for jobs, hoping for something with a little stability so we can stay in the same place for at least 5 years, hoping for something in Australia but knowing that we will move overseas again if that's where the work takes us.

And that's just it. This is our reality. We cannot make a home until something comes through and we don't know when that will be. We are home in Australia, and we are calling my parent's place home so that Jimmy understands that we are not visiting, but in some ways we are visiting because we are most likely going to have to move again, sometime in the coming month(s). We're hoping for Brisbane, Melbourne (where we have family and friends), or Manhattan KS, because they all feel like home.

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