Let this day, and all other days before and below me…remind me that I am alive. That I am weak and querulous and incomprehensible from all angles save one. Let wind rip through my window and tear through my trees and get to the sinews and roots that tie me to my flesh. Life is always and ever more blending and rebirthing.
Australia is a strange place. Wonderful and bright and fervent with energy and sunlight. Australia does not droop, does not dawdle, does not whine. Australia sits silently at the edge of the world and contemplates what it is to be alone. To be terribly small, terribly large and terribly light. Australia has tiny problems and big appetites. Australians smile through the back of their teeth and grind their voices at the shuddering hills. Australians wonder what it is to be other than themselves…when truly they are so akin to everyone.
Look, I’m sorry to say. But there is no Australian culture. There is no Australian society. At least not one that is markedly different from other English speaking countries. Canada has its own unique climate to adjust to…a history with France and a fascinating indigenous history. England and all of the UK have a wild and dominating history…and while America’s history is not particularly long- our bold, brash personality is real. Is vibrant. Is a force of the universe. America vibrates at a tightrope frequency so loudly and voraciously the continent might just tip over and leave us all swimming out to sea. Australia is pastel. Australia causes no harm, does no damage, lights no fires. There is no beat drumming under the current of the culture. Everyone is happy, everyone is clothed (in the newest and most expensive fashions), everyone is dewy with the golden drops of sunlight they’ve just come from bathing in. Everything is Australia is just. Fine. And it’s just about enough to drive me insane.
No. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Australia. I am involved in a tempestuous love affair with Australia. I will love this magnificent country until the day I die and will probably never be satisfied that there isn’t a brief and and simple bridge walk from LA to Sydney. I will probably never be fully happy wherever else I go because I’ll ache for the sight and sound of gum trees in the backyard. HOWEVER. There are some things that I ache for. History. A sense of cultural identity. A burning. And something to fight for. Something to breathe towards.
And here comes the world, all bright and vivid and singing its own true song. And here comes another day, and another day, and another beauty. And another moment to run towards the mother…those great blue arms slapping against the rocks of the shore.
Today I dragged my body through the winding streets of Sydney…slurping down chunks of coffee and bowls of muesli.
Today I slept through stardust and waded into that deep pool of sanity- the bright blue ocean. Today I met people…looked them in the eye and talked to the sides of their faces and knew they were me. Today I sat huddled on park benches and squeezed into sides of buses. I slept on the bus laying across the aisle in the backrow of the bus from Seaforth to Wynyard. The buses here are like a dream. Clean and bright and newly upholstered. Everyone has all their teeth and sits quietly and calmly in their own bus world. I ride them for hours like a little amusement park through the sprawling suburbs of Sydney. Through the bright checkered rooftops accentuated with the great breaths of trees that wind up and down sparks of hills and splashes of the sea cutting into the hills like puzzle pieces. Sydney sprawls for what seems like days…talks to itself and names itself nearly every 5 blocks. Suddenly we’re in a new town. Suddenly we’re in a new suburb. The names don’t mean anything and the places all look the same…but the wilderness of names itself excites me.
Life curls around me and keeps me safe. Life jiggles the keys and slides up the bannister. Life is low and lost and lingering and I am falling into a puddle of poetry with every lost word that whistles at me from above and below. I want to take the sea with me. I want to see the soul of the land. I want to run fire, hot spring step and golden into the breathless air of wind. Into the country that knows me. I want to dissolve all borders. The world is the world is the world and I can see that clearly now.
I miss those states. Those dustbowl wind chimes of land marks bunched together like homes. I miss the terribly tragedy of America and the fine threads we all cling to that say something like “Freedom, Liberty and Just us.” I miss my brother’s music laugh and Josh’s soggy body that seems like slide like a worm after you. I miss my mother’s raucous love, her mysterious patterns and her bright halo that dances above her head. I miss Will’s incomparable voice, his boy scout jokes, his faith. I miss faith. I ache for it.