Day 145 – girt by buildings

My niece’s Year 1 class is singing at her assembly today so we drive in to watch her. She is nervous and smiles shyly when she sees us come in a little bit late. The school is singing the national anthem when we walk in, with the words projected on a screen for the students to follow along. I suddenly realise I have no idea what the words are. I mean, I know the first verse, but they are singing that mysterious second verse I have heard about. I think they are actually singing a third verse. I have never even heard these extra verses. I used to joke that nobody knows the second verse and that it is probably un-Australian to know it but I feel seriously ignorant when I google the lyrics and find out that there are actually FIVE verses! Five! It was only a few months ago that I found out that the word ‘girt’ in the first verse means ‘surrounded by’.

Driving home, I can feel the energy of the city as we draw nearer. I am dreading it. I don’t want to be within this bustling bee hive. I haven’t even started working yet and I have already been looking at flights to leave again. I can feel myself getting anxious about being in Sydney, like I am worried about getting stuck here. I fall asleep in the car and when I open my eyes, the sun is setting and it is already cold. I go to the shops by myself for the first time in months. It is daunting for some reason. I have no idea why, but I feel intimidated by all the bright lights, the fast moving, well dressed people staring straight ahead, and the prices which make no sense to me. I can’t understand why bread costs $5. It all seems too much. The grocery aisles are laid out in a very specific pattern and when I double back to find something, it is like driving on the wrong side of the road. I feel like I am breaking supermarket law and people seem to be getting annoyed with me. When I try to find petrol, the usual petrol station is closed for renovations and I end up driving around in circles because I can’t remember where another pump can be found. How can my home feel like such a strange place, especially after I have been to so many other strange places?

I come home and cook. I have missed cooking. I don’t pretend that my food ends up looking anything like the Donna Hay recipe I am following and I usually know the quinoa is ready because it is burnt to the bottom of the pan, but I know vegetables and I can even make my carnivorous brother eat my vegetable and lentil pie. Today I am cooking roasted vegetables on a bed of English Spinach. Easy, delicious and I am not even missing the red wine that I would usually drink while chopping. While the vegetables roast, I make humus. I don’t have tahini so I use ABC spread (Almond, Brazil, Cashewnut) and sesame oil. It works well enough. I remember my mother gave me this blender when I first moved out of home, nearly nine years ago. I can’t believe it has lasted this long! Eating food I made myself, already in my pyjamas, I feel at home again, but still that longing doesn’t leave. I know I need to do something in the mean time while I am working to make more money to go away again. I can’t just drive around in circles knowing more verses from Amy Winehouse than the national anthem. Then I hear a comment on the TV…

“I don’t much believe in ‘meantime’, life happens in ‘realtime'”.

Well, if I was in Sydney for the first time, what would I do? I probably wouldn’t be sitting around in my pyjamas, waiting for life to happen. Sydney is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. I need to start treating it like a destination instead of limbo between destinations. Ok, let’s turn the world upside down and change perspectives.

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