But not without much contemplation and it seems I am never to be freed from it. Our trips to Canada just don’t get me thinking the way coming back home does.
I’ve been gone since 1995, plus the 15 months I spent away before that, and right from when I check In at Arlanda thoughts about my homeland start. I see another Swedish-Australian family lined up to check-in beside us, they remind me of so many others I have met over the years…..
I guess my first thoughts go to categories – and fighting the ones that people box us into. I don’t want to be like anyone one else, I never have and I can chuckle and think of many who would laugh and say – don’t worry – you never will be! But I am glad I don’t live in the U.K. – like so many Aussies do. And I’m not just another expat who has spent a few years abroad – I’m kind of more lost than that – am I one of those that has been lost to another nation, another life. Was Australia never good enough for me? Never the way I wanted it to be? Or did it just happen this way.
Entering the airport and going through the motions – customs etc brings me tface to face with my contemplation of my own national identity – who am I? Where do I belong?
As we drive from the airport my mother asks if it feels good to be at the end of our journey, yet sitting in the car that last hour is probably the hardest bit. And as the city and the suburbs whirl past me I am struck by what I like least about this place – the sheer vastness of this city, its urban sprawl and the roads. They are adding another lane she informs me – that’s great but what are they doing about the infrastructure – public transport?
And the overwhelming feeling of coming home to my city – to a city I no longer know. Staring at her face and seeing so much that is familiar, but so much that is not. It fuels my irritation over the building that is going on, developing, exploiting – business is big in this part of the world – money will buy you anything you want. Or am I just overcome by the strange and empty feeling of not feeling at home in the very place where I am supposed to feel at home?
It’s now 4am in the morning, I have slept a few hours but the awoke and my mind started spinning, my thoughts racing. My children sleep peacefully beside me, their stimulation is of a different kind to mine. I’m grateful they are sleeping and not disturbed by that now.
It is funny, moreover, interesting to read the thoughts of other bloggers that reflect my own. The Hairy Swede wonders if you ever stop translating prices into your own currency. I stopped a long time ago, and in my head Australian prices are still where they were over 15 years ago – when I left.
I know I am not the first to contemplate my own national identity, and I will not be the last. My own children probably have it ahead of them. Belonging is central to our needs as human beings – what an alienating feeling it is to come home and yet not belong here…..
Yet I smell the eucalyptus as I come out of the airport and I lie here listening to the birds and their first early morning calls, and I know I am at home. And it feels good!