Monday, December 15, 2008

Where Am I?

I speak to Mum every week by phone. She brings me up to date with the garden, the libernum, the thrip, and her epic struggle with the possums. When we chat I always end up thinking of when I was a kid, running around with no shoes, watching for snakes, getting sunburned, getting splinters, feeding scraps to the seagulls on the back beach, diving off the jetty, rowing to the store for chops, milk, and the papers, helping to burn off, cutting back. I think of Dad’s strange belief that burning cowpats kept the mosquitoes at bay.

It’s not merely that, traveling back and forth between New Haven, Connecticut, and London, I feel equally foreign in both places. It’s beginning to feel as though my Australia is a sort of navy blue dream place where water is as precious as good perfume, the trees are stoical, real cold does not exist, and the distant mountains of East Gippsland look like turquoise glass.

“Where the bloody hell are you?” asked the recent, disastrously offensive Australian Tourism Commission advertising campaign. I suppose my answer should be “working for Yale” but another, equally accurate, is “all over the place.”

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