Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tug of love

I think my Dad is afraid I'm never coming home.

I guess that is a possibility. I just don't like to think that far ahead (ie. as far as never/forever). In fact, my brain simply won't go there - it just doesn't compute. I hate that stock-standard job interview qustion: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Who the frick knows the answer to this question?! I sure as hell don't. I have never been a goal-setter or a ladder-climber. I just want to be reasonably happy and healthy; to lead a good life and achieve some degree of inner peace. No small feat, I'm discovering.

I like the idea of staying in London long enough to qualify for UK residency, which means I would be able to travel back and forth between the two countries more easily. Some people call that 'being chronically indecisive'. Others call it 'trying to have it both ways'. I prefer to call it 'hedging my bets'.

Choosing to stay over here is a difficult decision, fraught with emotion. I can't deny that it upsets me deeply to think that my parents are hurt I have stayed over here so long (six years last February. Bloody hell!). And there is the worrying possibility that I have put off my "real" life by staying here - swanning about town going to yoga classes and gigs, drinking proper coffee and generally living the high life - when I should have been at home leading a normal, sensible life, paying off a home and knocking out babies*.

I should explain at this point that I come from quite a working class background, and that there are members of my family who cannot fathom why I would choose to run away to the other side of the earth - to England! Where it's cold and damp and crowded and the people are miserable! - when I could be back home enjoying burnt snags and beer in the blinding early evening sunshine.

God, I miss the smell of the beach. I miss the openness of the people. I miss the piercing bright light and the warm embrace of a Summer evening where you can go out in just a light cotton dress, no cardie. I miss the warble of magpies and the piping of bellbirds as you walk through the gorgeous Eucalyptus-scented bush. I miss South Melbourne market and going out for coffee and cheesecake in the evening.

I don't miss the sunburn, the mossies or the water restrictions. I don't miss the endless suburbs full of ugly houses and the barely-adequate public transport system. I don't miss having a car.

The thing that worries me most of all, of course, is that I will never fit in again back at home - that I will never settle back into Melbourne life, and that I will always be full of regret at leaving behind the eccentric, complex cultural whirlpool that is London, with its endless diversions and awesome travel opportunities.

But my family are a strong drawcard. I miss being part of their boring, everyday lives; turning up for dinner and raiding the pantry for treats just like I did as a teenager. Hugging my parents for ages and laughing uproariously at my Dad (with Mum telling me off for encouraging him). My Mum's spaghetti bolognese. I feel I have been living in a precarious, bare-knucked way since I have been away, deprived of the emotional cushioning and comfort their presence in my life provides. I miss my youngest brother, and all that has happened in his life since I have been away - asking his lovely hairdresser on a date, their increasingly serious courtship, buying his first home with her, their engagement. I am awe-struck to watch my little brother building the foundations of a proper, grown-up life for himself.

Sometimes I wish I could split myself in two and lead two separate lives; one settled down in Melbourne, the other untethered and responsibility-free in Europe. I guess I just don't know how good I've got it.

*I don't know where this voice comes from, but I wish it would shut the hell up.
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