Sunday, February 3, 2008

Adrift in Australia

My sense of place is floating.

When the blinds are closed in the Randwick apartment I hear a noise that my instinct insists is the wind slamming the side gate to the garden of my home in Cork, until my reason intervenes and dismisses the notion with a sneer. Later on, the sound of an aircon fan on the balcony becomes the ticking over of the ferry engines on Circular Quay (or is it the Victoria Star - are we back on the Yangtze?)

Sydney floats.

Pontoons, boats, ferries: We move between them so often that even when on solid ground I sometimes have the impression that I'm afloat and I almost need to stamp my foot to prove to myself that it isn't so.

Time floats.

Last night, we watched Bee Movie in the open air, in a section of the centennial parklands off the Woollahra end of Oxford street. Duncan got there before us and picked a great 'posie' (position). Duncan hasn't changed since Letizia and I first got to know him in Paris, back in the day when we were still getting to know each other. Last night's picnic in the park could have been a trip to the Champs de Mars 13 years ago.

As the light began to fade, I realised that the stretch of water I could see in the distance was Botany Bay. Botany Bay! If you're Irish, you do not associate Botany Bay with beanbags, beers, or cartoon bees voiced by Jerry Seinfeld. Australia seems to live right up alongside its own history, and its todays and yesterdays don't always make sense when seen together.

Or maybe after a month on the road, and despite the normality of our Sydney routine, I've finally come unstuck. In exactly the way I had hoped. The certainty that our current routine will be uprooted in weeks, that the scenery and the people will be swapped, that we will have to say some goodbyes, that we will make some re-aquaintences - the certainty that things will keep changing, is exactly what I wanted. I hope it's what I need.

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