Homesick

by Alissa

Note: I’m moody and introspective right now. If you’re not into it, just scroll on down to the sublime Bowie video.

Last week I told Ace that I’m homesick.

This coincided with changing our driving sound track, the Coldplay album that has been in the CD slot in the car since before I even arrived in Australia. [Yes, he listens to music obsessively.] If I’m driving, I shut it off so I can concentrate on the road instead of cries from the backseat of, “So cold, so cold! Please! Louder! Daddy can drive with the music.” But since O has memorized most of the lyrics by now, and maybe since the season is changing, Ace put in something old and familiar–the Beatles cover album i am sam which we listened to repeatedly about a decade ago. [After Cake. Before Sting.] Back then. In our first apartment. In the house on the corner of Hilda and Eddy with the beveled glass built-ins and pigeons nesting in the roof.

“Homesick for where?” he asked. And we laughed a semi-sad laugh together.

On good days, home is life together–wherever we may be. But some days I’m left carrying around lonesome scraps of joy from before, attempting to warm myself with them in a cold house at the other end of the Earth. The thing about this moment, nine months into life in Oz, is that the balance of the present doesn’t yet match the heft of what we’ve had in the places we’ve left behind.

Montana, yes, and others.

The blossom confetti of cherry trees in Vancouver.

Duck families in our drainage ditch in Waterloo.

Friday night dinners in Waco.

Riding over the Erzsebet bridge, pink with sunrise.

May in the Black Forest, with all those Monday holidays.

Slipping through the dunes at Lake Huron.

Gliding out of Fribourg on the train.

Camp.

So many friendships found, lost, missed.

So many hymns sung and forgotten.

Our Australian permanent resident status was approved last week. We have health care. We could get a mortgage. (Once we get over paying for two sets of PR applications in two years and the cost of setting up in Oz.) Three years from now, we could even be voting citizens of Australia. Given our global good fortune, I feel guilty that this doesn’t make me ecstatic. It’s just that right now I am tired of the unsifted newness of living here. When Chris Hadfield posted his Bowie video from the International Space Station, that didn’t help either. Go and watch it, if you haven’t, and see if a little part of you doesn’t wish you could be Canadian, too. Canadians, go watch it again for the fifth time and feel good about your space program, again. I don’t regret Australia, per se–Ace is a carefree surf-hunk of his former self, we’ve met some lovely people, the food is fresh–but I do regret not being able to stay in Canada.

In other hard times and places, by this month mark, we’d be on our way home by now, at least for a visit. This time, we are already there.

I am lonely for irretrievable times and groupings of loved ones.

The cousins I barely know. The babies I haven’t met. Sunday soup with Cosy and Ben.

The first time I felt this kind of yearning was after my parents moved us from small-town America to Hungary when I was 14–the start of two decades of foreign service for them, and the first grueling experience of leaving for me. I’m sucked in again to the rawness of realizing that some things can’t be undone, weary of the the long lonely time before the ache of homesickness softens.

Something else might and will and could become wonderful, but we can’t go back to how and where we were before. I know those installations were temporary, but still I miss them. I suppose that’s a bit of a luxury, having a past to be fond of. Somewhere back there, I recovered, more than once. A few old friends are still good friends. I have had the deep pleasure of returns to beloved places. I trust that this will be true again, but for the moment I’m feeling stranded.

See the kangaroo and emu? Someone told Ace they are on there because neither animal can go backwards.

See the kangaroo and emu? Fascinating local fauna. Someone told Ace they feature on the coat of arms because neither animal can go backwards.

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