There’s a certain color that the sky goes when the sun sets over Western Australia. A purpley grey. The olive branches waving gently over the walkway towards our house. I miss this. Heat rises in my throat. The way the seagulls swarm in tangential directions as salty bodies wash the day away, and the sun drops into sea. I miss the feel of this sand in my toes, of this salt in my hair. I miss the comfort of hot showers in this water after a swim against the sun setting ochre in Perth. Wet towels and sandy cars and seaweed. Dry clothes enveloping a body still warm, sandy hair washed with supermarket shampoo and conditioner, scenting for hours. The heat still penetrates the body that swam in that sea. I miss this.
T-shirts the shade of swimming pools. Hoodies and Ugg boots and socks with sandals. A long day well spent. I want my son to experience this. I want my son to grow up an Australian. I want my son to know the particular smell of the night here, the quality of the air as we step outside to drink rainwater amongst the honeysuckle and grapefruit flowers. The swell of the Indian ocean. My chest fills as I realize how much I have missed this place. As much as my childhood home is changed each time I return, there is a magic that hangs over this house, this suburb, this city. The owners change and the buildings are painted over, new businesses start and old ones reposter front windows. It’s still my original home.
I have wandered far, looking for some kind of (replica of this) home. Yes, I have been enchanted by the deer and the hummingbirds and the late summer storms and the three-feet-snowy winters. I have been distracted by New York, baffled by Los Angeles and everything in between, drawn towards the strangeness, the newness, the idiosyncrasies of America. I have followed my heart towards that great land and found many a treasure there, and many, many a friend. How do I explain to myself the deep feeling that doesn’t creep in from the outside, but seeps out from within when I return to this West? How do I quantify the love I feel for this land? My homeland. Do we all feel this way about our birthplaces?
I have written before about this part of the Earth where I was born, arriving nearly 30 years ago at King Edward Hospital in Subiaco. I haven’t acknowledged, perhaps for a decade, how I feel when I am home. How do I feel? Home. How strange that we must leave and return to feel this. How strange that our seeking is so often borne of the origin. How do I reconcile my love for Australia with the rest of my life? If it were up to me alone, I would return to Perth. I would have brunch with my high school girlfriends as we did yesterday, laughing about things only we would remember. I would swim in the sea. I would drink the expensive coffee. I would write and I would perhaps even model again. I would take my son to the desert and the red sand North. I would show him the yellow wattle flowers and the blue Lechenaultia, the banksia and Stuarts desert pea.
I have seen the kangaroos and the camels, the rainbow lorikeets, the pink and grey galahs, the magpies and the lilies and the color of the sand and the rocks in the ocean and the way we walk barefoot and sandy through the drive-in liquor stores, the shiny malls and the way no one has a coat hook nor need for a scarf. I have seen the sights of my childhood, and I yearn for this feeling, to be nearer my parents as I age, to be nearer the people I knew when I was young. I don’t let myself weep, because I know it’s no use being sad. I will leave this city tomorrow, and I will return. Wherever life takes me, I bend myself against the wind towards the shore where the sun sets towards Africa. I miss you Australia. I love you my home. I thank you my life. I give you my heart.