Homesickness 

I wrote this last year for Six Months in Sydney, but a chat with Adam on Twitter reminded me of it. Some who follow me closely will know my Australian citizenship application had been approved and I have the ceremony next month: thoughts of home and what home is exactly are in my mind again. 
Timehop reminded me this morning that three years ago I was about two weeks away from leaving the UK and that this fact, having suddenly hit me, was causing my emotions to be pretty messy. I suppose it was to be expected, aside from the thoughts of everything I was leaving behind, I had also, earlier in the week, put the majority of my possessions, packed into tea chests, onto a truck bound for a shipping container. I very much felt like I was in some sort of ‘limbo’; halfway between two lives. I’d done all the admin, all the packing, booked my flights, tidied everything up. Aside from saying goodbye to people I wanted to say goodbye to, I was ready to go.

During the previous couple of weeks I had spent most of my time busying myself with the packing and with the admin, but once everything was done, once I was able to just stop, it hit me: shit, this is really happening.

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I had a couple of mini meltdowns, had episodes where I’d just break down into tears for no real reason and then after about five minutes I’d be fine. It was a strange time for me, emotionally.

Three years later, I feel very settled. That ‘limbo’ feeling is long gone – honestly I have never really felt it here. I expected to feel homesick perhaps, but I never have. Perhaps things like Skype help. but I’m sure it goes deeper than that. I feel no real desire to be in the UK. Sure I miss family and friends, and have a desire to physically be with them, but there’s not much about England itself that I long for, and as time passes, the UK feels ever more like a foreign country. When I’m there, of course, it feels like home, but being so far removed in my day-to-day life means that any associations with “home” are reserved now for people rather than the place.

On my last day in Leeds, I sat in City Square and cried, but now that feels so long ago, as though it were another life. I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope without the BBC, but I find myself only rarely catching ip with British TV shows on iPlayer, and I haven’t once in the last three years listened to Radio 1 online. I don’t feel that longing for supermarkets, the pub, fish-and-chip shops, British roads, the Pound, that I thought I would. I just feel settled.

A friend on Twitter said this, and it echoes my thoughts beautifully:

So perhaps that’s it. I don’t feel any longing for England because I have no need to long for it. Any time I want it, I can have it. Looking back three years, I wish I’d known it then. But even three years later, it’s a comforting thought.

 

follow me on Twitter: @supercroup

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Travel Poetry

IN 2004 I wrote a small collection of poems after  I came into possession of a number of postcards sent in the 1980s from a couple called Pauline and Rob to another couple called Sylvia and Charlie who lived in Sheffield. There were a few sent in successive years from Gibraltar, and a couple from Cornwall, and some single ones from other places in Europe. I lost the postcards, sadly, but still have a few of the poems based on them. Here’s a few of them that are still on my hard drive.

Dear Sylvia and Charlie

We are sitting here
at Lands End
in swirling mist.

We are based
at St Ives
at the moment.

(It is very pretty.)

We have also spent
a couple of days
at Dartmouth.

(The weather is disappointing.)

We’ll come home
early
if there’s no improvement.

We are enjoying
the rest of
the change.

(See you soon.)

Love
Pauline
and Rob.

Nocturnal view of the Rock of Gibraltar

Summer: cold.
Sylvia: bored.
Husband: gone.

Weather: perfect.
Rob: sunburnt.
Transport: sorted.

Washing: wet.
Housewife: (just).
Family: sad.

Pauline: driving.
Children: playing.
Postcard: written.

England: dark.
Offspring: school.
Lonely: yes.

Viva Las Vegas

The warm air hits you
as you step off the plane.
Riding down The Strip
in a taxi
you feel totally free,
and you realise that

a million lights are shining.
A million lights are shining bright.
And the world is shining bright.

A million lights are shining.
A million lights: they shine for you.
And the world: it shines for you.

Ding ding.

The Natural Features of Western Europe

The weather in Gibraltar is generally super:
It’s hot
and there are no clouds.

There are markets:
Sunday markets
and gipsy markets
and meat markets.

There are campsites
and timeshare apartments
and package tours
and zoos with apes.

There are English voices
and Dutch voices
and French voices
and German voices.

There are shops
and cafes
and beaches
and boats

and armies
and bands
and crowds
and cameras

and postcards
and palm trees
and fountains
and gardens

and then right in the middle of it all
there’s a bloody great rock.