Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The First Wave Hits

Immediately after this bitter little outburst I felt better. Perhaps because there is NOTHING like a good whine, and perhaps because I used trousers instead of pants - getting a handle on the lingo is very satisfying.

Then, just to make sure that my bitterness really turned into a good dose of homesickness, Val sent me a photo of herself standing on a nameless Western Australian Beach and for a moment, sitting in four layers of clothes at my desk in London, I was transported.

I could feel the sun drying my skin, the sand cradling my feet and the tang of the salt air from the surf. I could feel the weight of sunglasses on my nose, my hair lift in the afternoon breeze and recall my grin as I watch the surfies pass as I sun-baked with Louise on the shoreline. I could see the grey and brown gum-trees blur into a khaki sea as we roar at Dad's breakneck speed from Perth to Yallingup for that blissful two-week holiday.

It is a strange kind of torture when your whole body aches for a season and a place you will not see for another year. My computer at work has four photos on it.

One is of my bedroom strewn with bathers, towels, countless brightly coloured skirts and slides – some of these items Mum sent to me in London in hope of being used at the start of my visit and they got to me just as the unnatural heat broke.

There is the view from my Joel Terrace bedroom of the front garden and through to the Swan River – the crisp shadows below the trees, the glowing green of the leaves, the brown patches in the lawn.

There is a picture of Yallingup with no shadows on the scorching sand - just brown bodies and colourful beach umbrellas, the spectrums of blue in sea and sky and the green of the headland.

Finally, there is the picture of a dam on the farm at York, fairly screaming of Australian heat. In the foreground is the murky blue-brown yabby-infested water and then, on the far side of the dam, the skeletons of drowned gum-trees reflecting the harsh light so they seem to glow and leech the colour out of the healthy trees and sky behind them.

It is my very first wave of homesickness, and it hurts like nothing I have ever felt.