People have already started making their lists of what they’re going to do when all of the self-iso stuff is over. It’s too soon, but you gotta have hope.
Today I phoned Mum and told her how I’d been making plans to come home just an hour or two before the announcement that state borders would close. I was trying to nut out the dates while I was driving.
And then, boom, suddenly the invisible barrier between the states was no longer invisible.
That’s when I knew the game was up. My longing to return home was only compounded by singing tearfully along to Viva La Vida (When I Ruled the World) by Coldplay, famously played at all Sailaway parties on P&O ships since it was released in 2008. I don’t love Coldplay, but I like them enough to tell strangers I like them in pubs.
It’s too soon.
But life is good for me (for now). I mean, I have a tent pitched in my backyard that held during a shortish thunder storm because co-parenting during a pandemic also means that the kids need to have a home based, and, hey, presto, they live here. I was quite happy in my tent, eating Kettle chips and watching Making The Cut while a storm raged outside. And that, my friends, probably sums up this whole process. I’m not in any storm. I have no ship to sale. I just have to stay home. For me it isn’t hard, even when I send myself to sleep in a tent.
When I told Mum that I wanted to come home once this was all over she said, well, I just want you to be safe.
Mums are supposed to do that. My parents’ parenting style was always about harm minimization. They would happily accept risks if the activity would generally outweigh the risk. Right now, every parent in my life has taken the opposite approach — the risks are too high and we’re not accepting them. As Mum would say when things were a bit hard, ‘let’s find something else to do’.
I think often about how the hell did I end up here? How, when I’m secretly smuggled in Victorian and supposed to belong over the now boarded-up border? Whenever I think about moving away from my city I think about those nights I would cry in one of my little house in the country homes, missing my Adelaide, my friends, my gelati choices, my beach runs, hot summer nights and rainy days in the city. When I finally moved back to Adelaide, four years later, it wasn’t as I anticipated. My friends had their own lives now, beach walks were not so fun while I was pregnant and those cocktail towers were out of the question.
That’s why I’m keeping my list short, and there’s just one thing I’d like to do: a big road trip home.
Today though I started the PhD application process. Not because I need something to do during a pandemic (though, some people do, and goody for them), but because this was the plan. This was always the plan.
Adelaide was the plan. Hell, even Flinders was the plan.
I didn’t make a half-arsed promise to my fifteen year old self for nothing. I looked around that big intersection where Magill Road starts, where the shell shop was (still is), where there’s now a dirty big OTR instead of the little independent servo used to be. I promised myself that I would know these city streets inside out. And, now, for the most part, I do. Thankfully Adelaide is small. And just for funsies I went to the uni store webpage and looked at the merch. Shouldn’t have done it but glad I did. That tiny little thrill of anticipation sunk in. A thrill I get when buying air tickets, when starting a roadtrip, when you walk into a party where you know the host and most of the people, the arch at the end of a wedding, sweaty high-fives at the end of bootcamp, touching one of the jetty pillars after a long walk.
It suddenly feels real and tangible.