The top 3 questions I get asked since coming home:
1. What does it feel like to be back?
It feels a bit like being an astronaut who is going through a very drawn out and bumpy "re-entry" phase. Starting my life over again from scratch. Selling myself unconvincingly in job interviews. Most of all, endlessly explaining to people - strangers and friends - why I came back; why I stayed in England and in my previous job so long; why I am single again. Coming back has been rougher than I imagined. I still don't feel settled but I imagine I won't for some time yet.
2. Do I miss London?
Overall, generally, despite everything, I have not regretted the decision to come home. Even when my parents and I have bickered over the most inconsequential things, even through the moments of extreme loneliness and "everyone's settled down except me" self-pity, even when I ended up on my brother's doorstep soaked by the flooding rains and streaked with tears; I never wanted to run back to London. I have had only a couple of flickers of missing the UK - literally seconds-long - but nothing more. Just the odd "oh, wasn't the Borough Market/Hampstead Heath/St Pauls in the early evening lovely?"
3. Has Melbourne changed?
Yes, Melbourne has changed. There are more people, more shops, more traffic, more restaurants. The cars are fancier, the houses bigger, everyone seems to have an iphone. People seem better off (except the poor sods who, like me, didn't buy before the boom). But the things that were always lovely about Melbourne, are still lovely. I am enjoying so much the thrill of rediscovering my home town after having been away for so long. The hidden laneways; the religious fervour of the coffee culture; the trams rattling and dinging around town in their own sweet time; descending to the cool calm of the Yarra.
It will get easier, I tell myself. I will feel more settled soon. I won't be on my own forever. The mantra of the lonely astronaut, separated forever by his experience.