The romantic nostalgia associated with ‘coming home’ after a prolonged absence is incomparable. Books, films, poems and letters have been written in celebration of the ritual.
For myself, it had been 2 years – 24 months since I last set foot within the confines of my childhood abode. A mere 730 days since I had thrown myself into the barreling and unforgiving white wash of Bateau Bay, my local.
How peculiar that one can be absent for so long, but seemingly return to a set unchanged. Friends I hadn’t seen for years once more became my intimate and trusted companions. ‘Coming home’ was indeed nostalgic, but simultaneously normal. Excuse the cliché, but it was like I had never been away.
First impressions of a new environment can be incredibly insightful. But, first impressions of home revisited is gold dust to the wanderlusting writer.
The permutation of eucalyptus in the air, a westerly sea breeze, the ability not to wear footwear, late nights’, light mornings and the crumbling of formal boundaries are homegrown quirks that I had sorely missed whilst living abroad. Going for a walk in the national park and spotting the native wildflowers in bloom, the constant stream of ‘G’day’s’ and steak on the Barbie are ingrained Australian rituals that I had forgone and was overjoyed to return to once more.
Evidently, we miss family and friends. But, what else? I miss the easiness of home, coffee and cake with my mum, snuggles with my cat and the verbal sparring, but always in jest, matches with my younger brother. I miss the banter within the kitchen and communal board games of scrabble and monopoly. Sure, the transfer to an urban existence within a big city brings excitement, but the humdrum of a simpler life I nonetheless yearn.
‘Home is where the heart is’, is the common saying, but I cannot fully agree. Naturally, ‘home’ should be transferable, but can we emotionally abandon our physical roots? For me, no. Australia is a wild and colourful place.The diversity of Australia reverberates deep inside my core. No matter where or how far my travels take me, I will always be an Australian girl.
I pride myself in this. While my family may be scattered throughout the world, home will always be by the sea, in a small coastal town north of Sydney; clubs are absent, bars there are none and dance floors are few. For the urbanite, it is a barren place, but for the locals it’s a place of natural charm and excitement. Surfing is a requirement, as is bush walking. The pub on Sunday afternoon is our weekly social with characters such as ‘Bazza’ ‘Bob’ and ‘Bonza’ to be found.
An outsider is instantly recognisable, for often they are wearing shoes. Swim between the flags, don’t be too poncey and chuck yourself into the water and you’ll fit in nicely.
The Central Coast is my hometown, Bateau Bay to be exact. I grew up in the same street and four walled house all my life, before flying the coup at the tender and fanciful age of 18. Since then, I have lived and worked in various countries, none of which (until now, London) spoke my native tongue, backpacked solo and had one very near dice with death.
And while I am only home for a fleeting moment, I am taking the time to saturate and familiarize myself once more with its idiosyncrasies. Swimming in the wild sea, walking in the dense and dry Aussie bush, eating copious amounts of cake with my mum, and even taking a pilgrimage back to my former school of 13 years.
Home is home, family is family – it’s as simple as it is plain. Two years is too long for one to return to their physical origins. Besides, when you live in the thick and demanding city of London, who wouldn’t want to return to the sea? For we all need vitamin sea, more so when it was once our natural habitat.
Homeward bound – the most fulfilling, insightful and nostalgic of journeys.