Well, I said I wasn't going to post on this blog anymore, but as you all know, I'm sort of a liar.
I haven't had a moment to figure out Wordpress since I landed back in
this big smoggy forest-filled city, but I already have so much to tell
you, dear friends.
The flight from Sydney to Atlanta was murder. Nasty, long and brutish.
We had individual screens for watching movies and TV shows, but really,
after two movies, I've had enough. They were good movies, some
Almodovar, some Hitchcock, but still. My vegetarian meal was disgusting,
so I couldn't eat it. I got really hungry. Luckily, Monika from the
Alfalfa had given me a snack pack full of raw organic cashews, dried
mango, and chocolate. It saved my life. I couldn't sleep, because I had a
headache, so I took a Panadol (which is an Australian Tylenol) and
promptly endured a pretty vicious allergic reaction to that. I'd never
"lost my lunch" on a plane before, and wow, that is not a good idea. I
do not recommend it. In the end, I had a headache, I couldn't take a
painkiller, and I had no food in my stomach, which only made my headache
Horrible. I was hoping to buy some food in the LA airport, but between
customs, passport check and boarding my connecting flight, I had no
time. I'm not too proud to admit I bought a can of Pringles on the
flight, and I scarfed all the reconstituted potato mash I could get my
But then, finally, I was at the Atlanta airport, and my mom and dad and
Lynn (Craig's mom) were all there with smiles and hugs
and–importantly–food. Lynn even brought me a piece of the old-fashioned
vegan cake from Javamonkey. For y'all Aussies reading this, Javamonkey
is one of my old haunts in Decatur, GA. A coffeeshop I used to work at, a
cafe that has been my third place for years.
And as my parents drove me home, I felt what probably everyone feels
after years away from a place. A strange sense of same but not,
intangibly different, essentially unchanged. The big church by the
highway is still there, and kudzu still reigns mighty over the trees.
The Georgia State University dorms, where I lived my first years away
from home, are now Georgia Tech dorms, and my parents' house has a new
water heater and a new roof.
Yes. It's weird to come home. Everything tingles with familiarity, but
nothing sparks with knowledge. I keep having these moments: "Ah, yes! I
remember Dekalb Avenue... but I don't remember where it leads." Flickers
of memory, but they're not connecting up yet. The city right now for me
is like the star-filled night sky... I just can't work out the
I've been told that I am talking just a bit strangely, and my friends
look at me funny when I call their pets "little mates."
And I've had an eventful week. It's hot here. Really hot. I got a cold
because of the weather change, and I'm still not quite 100% yet.
My niece and nephew have been well-occupied in their summer vacation.
Last Thursday, I witnessed my first ever swim meet. I've never been
particularly athletic, and I certainly never got into swimming, because
I'm afraid of water. I'll wait for you to stop laughing.
So, swim meets are new territory for me. Have you
ever been to one of these things? They take ages. We sat in the stifling
heat for hours watching kids race, or occasionally wander, through the
water against the clock. My nephew (we call him Nanu) swam his little
body to shreds, finishing second in his heat on the backstroke. And
then, he won his first ever heat that night, too! Freestyle! It was
My niece, called Nanki, had a gymnastics camp last week, so I've been
lucky enough to witness some gymnastics dance routines, as well. It
feels really good to connect with the chickens again, with my own little
mates. And hanging out with my family again, especially my dear sister, has
been lovely. We never stop being amazed at how different we are, and how much we still like each other.
On Friday, I caught up with my pals Jeremy and Katie and Lemuel. Jeremy
and Katie are the kind of young people who totally have their shit
together and already own a giant a house with 3 bedrooms and two
bathrooms and a back garden and a front porch and a shed. And an alarm
system, because the only neighbourhood they could afford all that in was
Grant Park, which is sometimes still a little bit rough. They also
live with a giant Maine Coon cat named Terzaghi, after this guy. Jeremy
is a civil engineer, with a slightly unnatural love of rocks and soil, if that goes any way toward explaining the cat's name.
The cat is so big, he had to turn himself around about 5 times to fit in
this box. Like he had to screw himself into it. But he likes being in
boxes, so he was happy.
And Lemuel is the kind of young person who plays the
drums with members of the B-52s and occasionally tambourines his
own hands to pulp.
We ate Mexican at Mi Barrio, a little hole filled with amazing Mexican
food. You Sydneysiders have no idea. Mexican food here is so damn good.
To finish the night, we bought some Sweetwater beer (note Terzaghi's box). That first sip of
Sweet Georgia Brown Ale brought back so much that I love about the
South, about Atlanta. I'd missed these guys a lot over the past two
years, I had missed proper Mexican food and Sweetwater beer. It was
lovely to see them all again.
Then on Saturday, I went to watch the World Cup USA v GHANA game at the
Brick Store Pub with Lynn and Wayne (Boy Wonder's parents). I really
missed this place, y'all. Back when I lived in Decatur, if the
Javamonkey was my third place, then the Pub was my fourth. It was our
local, and considering it's been rated the second-best beer bar in the
world, you can see how it was a pretty amazing local to have. They
ordinarily have no TVs, though they bring them in for World Cup, and
they have a fabulous beer book. Over twenty beers on tap, and not a
single Budweiser in the joint. Of Sydney bars, the Taphouse in
Darlinghurst is most similar to the BSP, but it can't really compete.
It's surreal, being back in these places after so long. Some of the same
people are working at the Pub as before I left. Craig was in a band
called Gentleman Jesse and His Men, and Jesse was tending bar on
Saturday, so I got to catch up with him. He's a lovely guy. A good sort.
What's more surreal, though, is being surrounded by people whose faces
are painted with the American flag and who are screaming "USA! USA!
USA!" I just haven't heard that in awhile. Lately, if anything, I've
been hearing "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!" which is Australia's
oddly Jewish super-aggressive sporting event chant.
I drank my beer quietly and tried to look objective about the game, like
I was just interested in good footwork and slide tackles, because
secretly, I was pulling for Ghana. I've heard most expats get oddly
patriotic, even if all they ever wanted was to move away from their home
country. I guess I'm not like them. I still want the young, poor,
underdog country to win. Every time. And I was happy when Ghana won, but
I had to be careful who knew. Jesse quietly admitted that he was really
enjoying seeing everyone's sad faces. Jesse has always had a
highly-developed, nuanced sense of schadenfreude. Like a sommelier of
other people's frustration.
That day at the bar, hanging out with Lynn and Wayne was beautiful. I
really lucked out in the "pretty much in-laws" category. They've been
telling everyone about me coming home. All their friends at the bar
already knew my name and my plans and when Craig's getting here, and
they all said, "I've heard a lot about you, and Lynn and Wayne-- they
really love you." And we're all missing dear Craig in Atlanta, too. I
stayed at Lynn and Wayne's that night, and got to see my Severine. She's
fluffier (and a little chunkier) than she used to be, but she's taken
well to living with her grandparents. She's happy. Or well, as happy as a
peanut-brain can be, I guess. She purrs a lot.
On Sunday I caught up with Joe and Judith. We sat at the Pub (again) and
talked for hours. In Australia, I missed these guys so much I sometimes
ached for them. They run Love is Love Farm and are "good food"
ambassadors to Atlanta. They've had a tough two years– the Atlanta
storms last year flooded their farm and wiped out a lot of their soil.
It was good to catch up with them, put the rough years behind us, and
reconvene our friendship where we'd left it.
Yesterday, on Monday, I got to see Emma and Stefan-- we ate at some
places I'd never been before, and chatted about news and the (sometime
lack of ) quality thereof, because Emma works at CNN.
So, you can see I've had a busy week! On top of all that, I also got
almost all my visa paperwork done– I'm just about to mail it in. I've
still got loads of friends to catch up with and errands to finish, but
for my first week, I reckon I've hit a good pace. My weather-change cold
is almost gone, and the only big problem in my life now is that I miss
my wonderful Sydney (and Wellington) friends and community.
And I am much, much too far from one very close friend in particular.
Oh, mate. I miss you so.