I have spent the last couple of months in Thailand relishing the rarity of so much time and mental space, conscientiously and assiduously enjoying it while it lasted, like everyone kept saying I should. That is something that a pregnant person seems to hear a lot: “Sleep? Enjoy that while it lasts!” “Dinner with your husband? Enjoy that while it lasts!” “An intact perineum? Enjoy that while it lasts!” Etcetera.
Then we came home, and our plane into Sydney tooled around the cliffs of the Royal National Park before landing, just to make sure we all saw exactly how much the sea glistens here, and exactly how blue the crisp winter dawn is, and exactly how startling the smogless resolution of the horizon is. I felt my eyes manually adjust, like a camera focusing, on the distance and the clarity before them. The ever-present haze of the past three years had been rubbed off the lens.
And I realised, no, this is the real rarity, getting to come home to this. Anyone can take a nice, relaxing holiday, but not everyone gets such a homecoming at the end of it.
Living in Hanoi, we met a lot of foreigners who were there kind of because they had nowhere better to be, or just couldn’t face going back home. Their homes were grey and cold, jobless, difficult. An English friend, bemoaning the weather and the monotony of England, mentioned to me that Australians didn’t know how lucky they had it, and I replied immediately that we did, or at least I did.
I’m sure there are many similarly beautiful and liveable cities in the world, and I would never even attempt to argue that Sydney is a better city than Copenhagen or Paris or Portland or wherever. But to have – to own, to possess, to be thoroughly entitled to – such a place as your home is a rare and lucky thing. No matter where I go, this (this!) is where I’ll always be coming back to. Score.
I’m currently on a rail bus between to Moss Vale, hardly the most likely place to be overcome with the kind of misty-eyed patriotism which I appear to be suffering from, but the freeway is lined with wattle trees, some sulphur-crested cockatoos just flew right past our window, and the bus driver kindly offered to hold the bus while I used the toilet at Liverpool Station. It’s a pretty great place. Australia, that is – not the toilet at Liverpool Station. Although the latter is not too bad at all, either.