Home, Savoury Home

Home, Savoury Home

Last year, I boarded a departing flight from the USA with a heart four kilograms heavy and with seven lumps in my throat.

I’d left Australia several weeks earlier in a desperate bid to escape the blue realms of my reality that were work, eat, sleep, lift a few weights and repeat. My motivation to tackle life had been shredded, and I no longer had the beans necessary to will myself out of slumber each morning.

To me, every road in Bathurst had a predictable end, as did every day I spent there. I’d go to work in a place I’d overstayed for years, smiling at customers who only half-acknowledged my greetings. I’d park in the same spot in a dry concrete plaza and eat from the same café nearby, ordering from a menu I knew back to front. My energy was no longer available. I’d grown too accustomed to the flora and fauna and buildings, and Bathurst had mostly become a palette of dried Earth tones with memorised patterns of potholes in the road. I tried to seek out a sense of new, anything I hadn’t seen before, only to find myself more and more disappointed.

Keeping a quiet existence is one that mostly fulfils me, yet at times, I’d feel a gentle or even monstrous pull to take a literal leap across the lands to seek a greater version of good.

This had been one of those times.

“Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you,” sang Taylor Swift, filling my sister and I with joy. It was song we’d come to know by heart after hearing it more than 273 times on the city tour bus.

I spent many great weeks with my sister in New York’s autumn amongst the pumpkins and ghouls of the Halloween holiday, and felt increasing enraptured by the city as the days wore on.

Even the simple act of getting out of bed and making breakfast was more enticing in New York. We’d begin each day at an easy hour in our Harlem apartment, digesting both supermarket snack finds and quick Netflix sessions. Next, we’d seek out maps and plans and hopes, and spread them on the counter before us to decide on something new to see. A mutual agreement later, we’d set out on foot to the nearest bus stop and head further into the depths of Manhattan.

The leaf-lined streets spruiked me clean of any drooping thoughts and left me wanting surplus slices of the city filled with doughnuts, books, noise and energy. My sister and I constantly felt as if we were intruding in scenes from a movie in the best way possible.

 The city never let us down.

As our time there siphoned to a close, I felt the sturdy tugs of home time looming. I knew nothing could compare to what New York had offered me, and began to dream of harpooning my return ticket. I didn’t want to go back to Bathurst.

In true Dumbledore’s Pensieve style, a thought that continues to nag my head spaghetti is whether infinite travel is better left as a fantasy, or whether those of us who fall in love with faraway places should actively strive to make living in them a reality.

Whenever I’m planted in a location more exotic than the one I’m used to, home seems distant and irrelevant compared to the views and treats I am absorbing and devouring. Sometimes, however, in the instance of things going wrong, home becomes a place of safety, a means of finding true groundedness and an all-essential connection to the familiar.

Ultimately, home is a place to reflect upon your latest journey and to recharge for the next one. Home is there to reaffirm what we’ve been doing and help you determine what you want to do next. Home is a place of safety, of familiarity.

When beloved alien star E.T. boarded his quick flight out of California, a rainbow speared the sky as if the world’s dreams were about to come true. Sometimes, this is how it feels to go home. Other times, however uninteresting home may seem when we’re away, it’s good to know it’s always there.

And after touching down in Australia, as I took the final roundabout towards my home, Bathurst in its spring best didn’t seem so bad after all.

Cover by Van Namphuong