Living away from your own is a tricky business. Most of the time the ebb and flow of daily life occupies you just enough that the fact of your away-ness isn't so apparent to you. After all, there is the life you're leading to worry about, to make work, to turn into something meaningful and enjoyable. And in that process, you end up making a little space for yourself in the new country. A space that is yours, that is home, that is familiar and knowable. And there are friends and family too that belong in the new place and who, in turn, help you to belong.
However, sometimes my away-ness feels more acute than others. It might be something relatively mundane that triggers me off - like a yearning for a "proper" Christmas complete with swims in the sea, a heatwave, and some tropical fruit. Or it might be something much more significant. Many of you will know that Australia has been experiencing some terrible fires in its south-east and there has been a shocking and devastating loss of life there. I have felt my away-ness keenly over this time. Understandably, the reports themselves are heartbreaking and the suddenness and senselessness of the loss of homes, livelihoods and lives is incomprehensible. But I don’t think you have to be Australian to get that.
Yet, there’s something to be said for being present during a significant national event and I think that’s why I’m feeling the reality of distance at this time. There’s a small comfort that can be had when everyone around you is sharing the stories and the sense of horror. And there’s a small comfort that can come as everyone around you, including you, begin to weave the threads of meaning and explanation together to make sense of it all. While there is news of it here, and there are people who care about me and my family and therefore Australia, it’s not the same. I feel strangely alone and oddly homesick. (Yep, I’m strange and odd.)
But it shouldn’t be about me. This post was really just to acknowledge that, amongst all the tragedies that have occurred in the world lately, Australia is reeling from its own. My heart, all the way on the other side of the planet, goes out to it and all those involved.