My last weeks in London are being lived in parallel, one with me frantically running hungry eyes over my beloved London trying to remember everything, one finding me freezing at inopportune moments with the overwhelming knowledge of going home.
My thoughts of home are stalking me through my work day, my bus rides, my dinners, my sleep and each of my conversations. At any moment I may say something or see something or hear something that triggers a memory of home and my stomach disappears, my lungs turn to concrete and I seem to exist outside time for the split second that it takes for one of two crushing feelings to rip my throat out.
I can never tell which of my two stalkers will pounce on me next.
The fear is like one of our famous venomous snakes lurking in the dark, ready to sink its’ fangs straight into my chest and freeze my blood.
I stand on Pall Mall each morning, admiring the sight of the National Gallery and will find myself mentally standing in the middle of the Hay Street and my mind giggles hysterically at the little High Street that is the Perth CDB.
I get an excited email from a friend looking forward to my return and I recall the girl they knew and I want to turn and run, knowing that I am nowhere near that carefree, thoughtless and uncomplicated creature they waved off two years ago.
I open my favorite Sunday paper and feel the real weight of isolation in the knowledge that after only a few months their clever and sneering pop-culture asides will mean nothing to me because I will not be up with the latest vicious gossip and will be oblivious to the latest news on the street.
And the worst thought is that of trying to talk to those at home about the last few years without sounding bitter. I tried it when I started saying goodbye to everyone here, but as the time available to me shortens I find my anger and frustration rising again, choking my ability to put a brave face on it.
On the flip-side, the anticipation is like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, completely primal and incredibly stimulating, it feels so familiar because it is my devotion to each person I count as friend and family distilled to its’ purest form.
I read a review of a friend’s band, discover he is quite the rock star now and I laugh until I cry because I have so much to catch up on.
I listen to a track from a WA band and I see the beautiful crowd of healthy and happy young people standing in a tiny venue enjoying the laid-back coastal sounds of our particular crop of homegrown culture.
I hear the long list of people who rang Mum to ask if I was ok after July 7th, people I know well, people I have never heard of and I fully appreciate just how many people are waiting for me to come home.
I think of standing in one of our parched top paddocks watching the dust-ridden heat haze, I think of sinking my feet into boiling white sand and swimming in the gaspingly cold sea, I think of that heat, that sky, that air, that light, and I can feel myself tear in half from the agony of being two people, one doomed always to be homesick.
To be truthful, trying to keep my feelings in check is like trying to swim against the retreating tide. I know that wave is behind me, I know it is going to leave me gasping and choking on a golden shore, but I really would rather not be going through that tangle of limbs and stolen breaths that is a good dumping.
I just hope I get washed up on Yallingup beach with my tiger, and not the snake.
Originally posted on Exiled Britophile, a blog I updated for about twelve months when I returned home from London. Due to it's frank discussion of how horrid I found Perth, these pieces had only been read by my London readers until 2011.