By now, I pretty much am. For the first few days my suitcase sat like a volcano in the middle of my bedroom floor, surrounded by its magma of clothes and books, but now the hazard squad has chipped the lava up into granite blocks to fortify my drawers and bookshelves. There’s still the odd puddle; a pile of papers, a bunch of cables left awkwardly on the desk, but most of the task is done. For the first time in twelve months, I’m not living off the contents of a suitcase, but surrounded by the junk and clutter and piles of warm that make up a family home. I’m back.
July 5th; 2011. I had that date in my head for so long that I think I expected everything to somehow occur all at once, as soon as it arrived. To suddenly go from being INAUSTRALIA to being BACKATHOME in an instant. Leaving and returning in an instant. Of course it doesn’t work like that. Leaving was a protracted series of goodbyes and last-events. The Melbourne roadtrip was the perfect goodbye to Australia, but then there was still goodbye to Brisbane, and see-you-somedays to individuals. Rachael. Thomas. Everyone. I imagined I would write up a bombastic, conclusive goodbye-blog, wishing Oscar-speech farewell to all the beautiful things and people who made, changed and shaped my year. Maybe I still will. But I’m glad that I haven’t so far.
Then returning to the UK. If anything, even more fragmented than leaving Australia. There was seeing my sister and Kenny at the airport (with tea and a muffin!), and that was coming back, and then there were two days in London surrounded by British things with price tags in pounds, and that was coming back. And then there was arriving back at my parent’s house, which was the big coming back, but with its impact already oddly muffled by all the returning I’d already done. And then there was seeing Dom, Kris and Buchan, which was coming back for sure. And there was playing my guitar, and there was wearing my big leather jacket again, and there was eating digestives and watching BBC documentaries, and all these other little things which were all a little bit like coming home, but none of them were a huge bombastic fanfare of…man, I don’t know, something. It’s great being home, but it’s not like one book has closed and another has begun. It’s all more organic than that, more real. It’s still the same page, really.
One thing which wasn’t coming back, not at all, was seeing Rolo. Anytime I got homesick, it was a quintessential ‘returning’ image I’d envision. Taking Rolo up around Balmashanner, watching him run around after invisible rabbits. But Rolo’s old now, and very ill. Seeing him completely took the wind out of my sails. He’s not good.
So after all that, that whole big messy year of ups and downs, of the hardest, best and most breathtaking things I’ve done in my life, I don’t even have a conclusion? After all that talk of writing, I can’t knit together a final chapter to sew it all together?
Maybe I can. But not just now. Perhaps soon; I’ve unpacked, after all. I’m back on UK time, and I’m getting used to the light evenings and the changing weather and the value of the pound and the absence of bush turkeys.
And it’s sad to be gone, and it’s good to be back. And here I am.