baby

Where is home when you belong to two countries?

It’s hard belonging to two countries, it’s like having an unworkable affair – you are never really whole in either place.

In England, I was an Australian who always missed my family and spent the dark days of winter yearning for the sunshine and long Sundays of home.

But after almost eight years in London, I turned British (officially) and that lover weaved its way into an unshakeable part of my heart.

I married Britain’s park-life, London’s long summer days, the European holidays along with my expat family.

Looking at foggy London town. Image supplied.

London embraced me from the moment I landed and it gave me everything I needed - except familiarity and nostalgia.

After years and years in a city where everything, including myself, was new, I never ran into anyone who had known me as a child, or knew my family or knew the suburb I grew up in.

It was an unfamiliar place, with no familiar lawn-cutting smells and the time and pace was so different to my original home.

I could divert around British class culture as easily as an alien. I was at home anywhere and everywhere - because I had never existed there before.

My accent didn't give me away to a class, no one knew if I had a private or public school record - I had an underclass of Australiana, and it was an opportunity.

Back at home it was different, I knew my place and I felt others did too.

In Australia, I don't have that feeling of freedom that comes from escaping your blueprints. I never had that feeling of endless opportunity that comes with anonymity and re-invention.

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But once I had a baby, I had an urgent need to return - if only briefly - to Australian shores.

Sisters. Image supplied.

I wanted my mother, my siblings, and my grandparents to love my baby. I wanted him to have a sense of belonging and family.

We arrived during a hot dry Canberra December to a warm family gathering.

It was going to be a perfect Christmas of seafood and childhood stories.

But as the car arrived into the bush suburbia that was my childhood home, I felt a pang in my heart for what I had left behind.

It was then I realised I also belonged in another place, I had left behind a home I had built.

My son watches kangaroos with his grandmother. Image supplied.

People here sounded strange on the radio and suburban kangaroos were a novelty.

I thought I had come home, but I was lost. I was, at best, a homeless tourist.

It was almost $10 for a juice and I felt robbed of $50 leaving a supermarket with only two small bags of food.

The cousins I had known as children were now married with children. No one had been waiting in a frozen pattern - like I had strangely expected.

My old home was gone, my childhood memories were fleeting and everything was unfamiliar.

A year on, I will visit my mother's house again this Christmas and that big gang that gathers there now knows and loves my son. I'm so grateful for that.

I am still a little lost between two countries that are so far away from each other but that's just the mess of a wonderful affair.

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