I am back from Melbourne after three glorious weeks, wrapped in a warm blanket of love from my family and friends to sustain me through the deep, dark London Winter. Which is not to say that I don't love my friends here; but Melbourne is my true home and will be forevermore. London suits me right now, and I will be here for at least another 7 months, but I am starting to think about heading home late next year.
It is strange, the time I spend back in Melbourne now. For the first days of my holiday I felt like Martin Guerre - struggling to feel like I belonged, feeling slightly oppressed by deeply familiar surroundings - despite my family welcoming me back with their usual love, manifested in bone-crushing hugs and random silliness.
After a shaky start, though, I started to really enjoy my time there and revelled in seeing old friends, basking in the sunshine, inhaling the sweet air and savouring every drop of tap water. Yes, tap water. Compared to London water, Melbourne water tastes like it is made from the tears of angels (they aren't salty like ours).
My time went by in a whirl of social engagements, which were spent breathlessly relaying the stories of our respective lives over the past year or more. Births, deaths and marriages, either real or rumoured. Home-purchasing, divorce, home-selling, new jobs. Religious revelations. Political persuasion featured a lot in conversations this trip, due to the looming election. Thank God Howard Is Out, is all I have to say on that divisive topic. One friend screen-printed her own climate change t-shirt (impressive). Another had a "Howard Exit" highway sign printed onto his top.
All up, I was very sad to leave. But the adjustment back into London hasn't been too bad, after the first extremely quiet weekend. The weather has been nice, which helps - the sun has actually made a few appearances. It is nice to see everyone here again, and there are many Christmas functions to look forward to. But I will miss everyone back home. I miss being more involved in their day-to-day lives, as opposed to the bi-annual flying visits where the babies have strangely mutated into walking, talking, tugging, emotionally-complex little creatures.
Ah well, there's always Facebook.