This blog post is not about a place I have been but instead a place I have yet to see.
When I was a kid my dad had planned to move us to Melbourne Australia. I was SO excited – becoming obsessed with everything from Australia. From the music (The Lime Spiders, Midnight Oil and INXS still sound great today) to the food (Lamingtons!) to the way people talked. I remember begging my mom to buy me a Speedo swimsuit with the Sydney Opera house and kangaroos on the front. Sadly, I soon grew out of it and have yet to absolve puberty for that cruel blow.
There was an issue of Life Magazine about Australia; where a young female American journalist who immigrated. She gave up her American citizenship and was now an Aussie. Looking at her dark hair and green eyes I thought “that’s going to be me.”My dad had bought me an awful orange plastic boomerang that I spent countless hours in the driveway trying to get it to return to me. Sadly, it only went in one direction – away from me. Kinda how I felt about my little life at the moment.
In the end my dad changed his mind, I’m not sure why he never told me I I never asked. Why didn’t seem to matter to me, it still doesn’t. To break the bad news he was smart to take me to a very public place – Pier 39 in San Francisco to tell me. My little hand in his huge hand I heard the words “we’re not going” and my body went limp. I collapsed in a heap of tears and still remember falling on a hot metal rivet in the splintered wooded planks. Dad scooped me up, pleaded with me to stop crying, and promised he would take me for a visit. I stopped eventually but we never did visit. Since we were right outside of a t-shirt shop he bribed me with a t-shirt. One of those places they used to have in malls where they would print a school logo, silkscreen what you want or letters in about 4 different fonts to choose from. There were no schools from Australia; the closed geographically was The University of Auckland. I wore that shirt until you could read through it, then I just put another shirt on underneath. Even though they are from New Zealand I have always thought that Split Enz and Crowded House were two of the most amazing bands ever. Once I even took a picture of Neil Finn into my hairdresser and asked him to cut my hair like that – and he did! Looking back now I was a very weird kid and so glad no pictures survive of that.
I don’t remember the ride home, but I so let down. In my little young world, I thought my life was ending. Shortly I realized it wasn’t going to. It didn’t. Life went on.
Many years later I confided in my dad that I had never forgiven him for not moving from California to Australia. He looked at me and said “Yeah, me neither. It’s the only thing I regret”. Now before you get angry about how a girl could talk to her father like that. He was a best friend until the day he suddenly died of a massive heart attack in 2000. Even his wife referred to me as his best friend and we had that kind of relationship where we could say anything to one another. I have yet to find that with another human being so I cherish that I had it once.
Sure I’ve lived in London (been back a couple times too) and been so many amazing places, not to forget my home state of California which I have lived all over and covered extensively by car is to me, one of the best places on earth. But there is something about Australia be it the architecture, the arts, the food. No. It’s the attitude of the people, just the way they look at life with that “Hey I’m going to do it, what are my options?” kind of outlook. They handle whatever comes their way like a boss. They also seem more warm and friendly than some other (I won’t name names) European countries. I have always, if you a regular reader of this blog will already know pride myself on being about to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere at any time. I’m thinking I may get that from my dad but I doubt it. I’ve always thought Australians were like that, or hoped they were. Any contest I see I enter to the max and hope I win.
Now, for me Australia is still just an (unaffordable) dream place where they put hokey pokey (we call it honeycomb) in everything from ice cream to butter! And in particular Zumbo pastries where upon my arrival I would like to go into my nearest Zumbo and say “One of everything.” Life is having your cake and eating the whole cake.
In summation I would like to quote the band Blur from their song Parklife. It really does encapsulate how I feel: “There will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it.”