It’s a lovely world
Up, over and under.
Same stars that we all call ours
To look upon and wonder
Good to see another point of view
Good to show my daughters
Courage can kick start a heart
Scared of crossing waters.
Still I think it serves us leaving what we know
Though there may be days when my heart gives way
To the pulling undertow…and I want to go home.
My sister wrote this song for me before we moved to Sydney. I used to sing it to myself when I felt lonely or lost or on the wrong side of the road. It was such a gift–such a comfort. But Australia no longer feels foreign to me. It’s not just the birthplace of Crocodile Dundee and animals that want to kill me. It’s where Chaylee learned to walk and talk, where Kenna learned to read and ride a bike, where our baby girl, Kiama took her first breath. It’s home. Wild kangaroos and wombat roadkill, kookaburra wake up calls and startling cockatoo cries, crushing waves and God painted sea shells, the seductive curves of the Opera House and the iconic arch of the Harbour Bridge….they all feel like my natural habitat now.
In fact, it has taken a while for the pointy evergreens of Washington to feel natural to me again. The mountain still takes my breath away, but the dark green waters have taken some getting used to. The chill in the air doesn’t feel quite right yet either. But, in the words of the great Australian singer, song writer and wise sage, Josh Pyke,”when the city that you’re from makes a stranger of you, you know you’ve been away too long.”
So, though I have avoided writing this final chapter, I think it time.
Many blog worthy stories from our journey never made it to cyberspace.
Like the time I slipped on a cruel patch of seaweed at Mona Vale whilst wearing a bathing suit in front of the only man in all of Australia, other than Mike Pasley, that ever attempted to chat me up. My landing was hard, awkward and painful–my ending pose, unfortunate. I tried to put the gentleman at ease with my spill by making light of my injuries. He was concerned for me. That made it worse. Much worse. I was so glad to return to the arms of my husband who is more than happy to laugh with me when I bite it.
Then there was the time a young woman working the phones at ABC Carpet Cleaners made me cry when I nervously called with a customer service complaint. She hated me and my stupid request for better service. She told me to never call again. I called her a big jerk. I think she worked at the Artarmon Post Office too. Hey, blondie…if you are reading this, put your manners back in.
And we can’t leave out the infamous Roseville Public School Art Auction and Fundraiser where Mike was coaxed by a teary wife into purchasing an unsightly map of Australia decorated by Kenna and her fellow first graders for $350. I was in charge of the project. My original vision involved, through the eyes of a child, style photography and some simple framing. This concept soon evolved into a large map of Australia decorated with homemade post cards created by the students. It devolved into a grotesquely large particle board collage of muted coloring pages pasted on a background of hard to read “hand-written post card” entries. The night before the auction I attempted improve upon the deteriorating design by framing the individuals drawings with some exotic red sand we had collected from our journey inland to Dubbo. I thought that would give the final product an, if you will, rustic motif.
What emerged was a humiliating hodge-podge of kid art in smeared dirt frames stuccoed onto a now irreparably contaminated canvas. It was a lost cause. My dirty map would have to go to auction. That’s when I started crying.
It really wasn’t that hideous if you considered it “child art”, but the other class pieces were definitely outsourced with only peripheral ankle biter involvement. One class even constructed a 5’4 wishing well out of stones from the playground. It sold for over one thousand dollars. As it should have. Thanks Mike for buying the dirty map of Australia. I’m sorry it had to come to that.
On a side note, the fundraiser was amazing. Those Aussies really know how to invest in public education. Among the door prizes; a win your height in cases of beer raffle, and a vasectomy.
I don’t believe I blogged about my frightening encounter with an angry bird either. I was walking to Jane’s house one sunny Sunfay afternoon when suddenly a deranged bird of prey repeatedly attacked the hair I had bundled on top of my head. No one warned me to avoid nest like buns during magpie mating season. After the assailant’s fourth sortie, I was able to take up defensive position utilizing a book I had brought with me. Unfortunately, I dropped several creative expletives in front of Jane’s neighbors during the assault, thus bolstering my already tarnished reputation. (See the Chicken Situation– https://heatherpasley.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/jane-says/ ).
Another favorite was the accidental bikini car wash drive-by on the way home from the hospital after having Kiama. No woman wants to sit at a stop light observing scantily clad, childless women in their twenties caressing muscle cars just after she has given birth to her third child. Mike and I got a good laugh of out the juxtaposition, then I gave them the bird…in my heart.
And an honorable mention goes to Chaylee’s surprise performance of “poker face” at her final ballet lesson before an audience of puzzled parents. The whole experience was a bit more subversive than I had anticipated. The lyrics suddenly became crystal clear, as if I were hearing them for the first time. What once sounded like gibberish, sounded downright inappropriate.
I won’t tell you that I love you, kiss and hug you
Cause I’m bluffin with my muffin…
It was like Little Miss Sunshine but with improvisational, and if you ask me, superior choreography.
Another gem worth a nod came by way of the International moving company that packed and loaded all our worldly possessions. Evidently our belongings were not very impressive. “You sure you want to bring this?” “This is garbage” “You need three barbeques?” ” Why you have this?” His choppy English cut deep.
There are many more stories that deserve a paragraph or two but the time for closure has drawn nigh.
I never knew when my sister shared that song with me nearly four years ago that home would become more of a feeling than a place. Perhaps she knew that would be my fate…that one day I would long for the Southern cross as much as I once longed for the Fourth of July.
Feelings they come
Then they go like a dream slept by
Can’t remember why I cried so hard
Staring up at the sun swept sky
Another day of finding love
Forming bonds and virtue
Fighting fear and finding recompense
F0r all the things that hurt you
Still I think it serves us leaving what we know
Though there may be days when my heart gives way to the pulling undertow
And I want to go home
What does home mean to you?
Aussie word of the day:
Australia: The land derived it’s name from the Latin term Terra Australis which means unknown land of the south. The original Spanish name for the Land Down Under was La Australia del Espíritu Santo which means, “the southern land of the Holy Spirit”. That is perhaps my favorite.
I went indoor skydiving in August to celebrate my dear friend Michelle’s birthday. I came away with a shoulder injury. After a month of continuous discomfort I decided to go to the doctor. I knew he would want an x ray so I went ahead and took a pregnancy test to satisfy my conscience when I confidently checked the “not pregnant” box.
It’s a boy.