I’m Still There

I’m yearning for my home country more now than ever.

I miss the smell of the eucalypts, the searing heat of summer and seeing the air quiver violently over the almost molten asphalt.

How the horizon shimmers through the windscreen on those hot country roads, driving to visit my Aunt and Uncle out west. Splattered bugs on the glass. Peering through dust and streaks as I drive. Sometimes driving through the night, Darkness pushed back by the headlights. High beams on and off. Roos scattering out of the way just in the nick of time.

Ghostly white gums lining the way under a velvet, star sprinkled blanket of a sky.

Out in Orange, eating cherries and watermelon and drinking cold beer in December. Feet in a bucket of cold water. The kind of heat that can kill you if you aren’t careful.

The gusty Wollongong wind that hits you like a physical force while walking to the local shops, in the winter time. Gray days. Howling winds beating against the screens. Beating against the gutters, threatening the roof top. It cuts right through whatever you have on for protection. Your coat is a joke. You can lean into that force and it will hold you up steady. You can feel it in your bones, that chill. Then when you are out of it, it rings in your ears for a while. Through the window you see the white billowy clouds overhead and the bright blue sky. You see leaves scattering about on the concrete, swirling in circular motion. It’s wild outside.

Inside the house feels still, a sanctuary and you love being alive now warm and sipping tea away from the grasp of that gale. The air is still in your nostrils and lungs from before, so cold and clear.

Watching those summer storm clouds roll in over the rainforested hills of Murwillumbah. Dark and heavy. The electricity in the air making the hairs on my arms stand up. Making me feel like jittering and squealing at once like a child, the energy in the space vibrating through me and all around me.

And the rain. Torrential. Hitting the corrugated iron hard and making a sound that can only be Australia. The smell of wet earth and the steam coming off the foot path. The grass a shade deeper now, and soaking in places. Tiny snails hang off long stems sprouting from the cracks in the driveway. Rain drops like crystals cling to the blades.

The way the Pacific shore feels and smells. Old seaweed. Shellfish drying out in the sun. The Sydney sandstone gold and gray lattice, a work of art framed with coastal scrub speckled with wattle and bottlebrush and lantana.

The way that the sun burns. The heat beats down on you and you squint at the sun. Covered with freckles, I am damaged by years in that sun. Skin unprotected, exposed and vulnerable. Skin wrinkled and scarred. The sun damaged me but those days were free. Those days I was free.

The kookaburras laugh and the cockatoos screech. The color. Wings and voices up against the wide, sapphire sky.

The dark, brutal history. The pain that exists there today. Maybe I could do something.  Maybe I could change something. Maybe I could make a difference in my home country, a place that exists inside my frame, my heart and mind and spirit.

Maybe I could return and find me waiting there, waiting all along. Maybe I never left. Maybe I’ll never leave. Maybe I’m still there.

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