I wrote in a café today and at the table next to me, three women—none of them native New Yorkers—talked about their immigrant experience, about living far from home. A huge wave of homesickness washed over me, for a moment I could smell the jasmine and honeysuckle coming into bloom in Sydney, see the view from the bottom of my parents’ street, of the timber yard, Bicentennial Park, Rozelle Bay, the Glebe Island Bridge and the city beyond it. Glass skyscrapers reflecting the intense daylight (never mind that in Sydney it was dark and the wee hours of morning), container ships loading and unloading, the enormous Moreton Bay fig trees by the water, and maybe some pelicans floating in the bay. My longing for home was so intense that I had to bite my lip and dig my fingernails into my palms to keep from crying.
September’s hard. It’s so beautiful back home and it’s my birthday month. Birthdays have always been a very big deal in my family. It’s never quite the same being birthday girl far from home. I miss my family and my friends and my bicycle. I miss Bowen Island breads, James Squire’s Amber Ale, Coonawarra reds, Tasmanian sparklings, Victorian stickies, Hunter semillons, and the fantastic organic garlic that we found at this health food store on King Street—so fresh that they practically peel themselves. I miss the sound of flying foxes at night and rainbow lorikeets during the day. I miss the smell of the harbour.
I miss being surrounded by people with accents like mine who know what a jumper is and understand that there’s a dipthong in "no" and have heard of Paul Keating and Miles Franklin and Shane Warne and Judith Lucy. I miss no one finding my accent even slightly cute.
I miss the light and sense of space—horizons everywhere you look. I miss the tannie gardens with their ibis and flying fox infestations. I miss playing lawn bowls and drinking really cheap beer. I miss cycling everywhere. I miss hills. I really, really miss the cricket (even if the poms did just beat us at the loser pyjama version of the game).
Hell, I’m even missing the current election campaign. Surely it can’t be as bad as the one here? I miss everything and everyone, but especially all of you.
New York City, 27 September 2004