Monday, January 25, 2016
It turns out I'm flying home to Australia on Australia Day - who knew? I didn't, at least not until a more patriotic friend pointed it out to me a few days ago. But it probably explains why the tickets were so cheap: people either want to make sure to avoid Australia on that day or to be there in good time to celebrate it in style, not neither here nor there, as I will be.
Indeed I do fear in the interim twenty-five-odd years since I've resided in my home country, there's been a slight slippage in my proper affection and respect for the big brown land that I still call home, as the sentimental lyric to our national anthem that was drummed into me at a young and impressionable age, forever resounds in my brain: 'I STILL CALL AUSTRALIA HOOOOOOOOME', for some reason in John Farnham's boom-ballad voice. And indeed I do, but in a somewhat quieter way, and not enough to remember the date of its national day. Hmm...
I think part of the problem is that those 25+ years since I have lived in Australia I have spent in New Zealand, the annoying little-brother land with which Australia has a sibling-rivalry kind of animosity that borders on the psychotic at times, something that can make clear thinking for an Aussie ex-pat living in New Zealand somewhat tricky. Being called a traitor to my face for leaving Australia did not helped much either.
Add to that the Australian political scene which has left something to be desired for many a year now, although NZ's political scene under our present right-wing government is hardly any better. And Australia is a much bigger country than NZ and size makes everything (almost) more difficult, so some sympathy is required. Progress and change takes time and the bigger the thing that needs to move forward, the slower it tends to take.
Australia also gave me an interesting and fairly bizarre start in life, enough to write an entertaining book about and get an Australian publisher to publish, so there's that. I like to think this says that I still matter to Australia, though it remains to be seen just how much. But if I still matter to Australia at all, then Australia still matters to me.
In fact living between somewhat rivalrous countries is kind of like having two lovers. It's a little awkward at times, but I am never lonely or bored. Also I have the benefit of distance from each, which gives me perspective, so that my love for each is at worst a bit blurry, never blind.
So happy Australia Day, Australia; I'll see you tomorrow. But for today, and tonight, I'll be here in New Zealand, making sure that I'm missed.