On going home
by guest blogger Barbara Cox
I’d forgotten about Tasmania’s spring winds, spinning the washing line like a whirligig and whistling across the chimney top. Hearing the gusts roar across Hobart’s hills, ruffling the edge of discontent.
“Are you back?” people ask, “But why?”
For family, of course (they nod, knowingly). Parents, siblings, cousins and my 92 year old grandmother are all ensconced in this city. It was madness, we reasoned, to spend so much money and all of our holidays returning to the place we left. Then fate stepped in: loved ones fell ill, the lease ended and a move was on the cards. It took weeks to condense and pack our busy Brisbane life, and a few days to drive it south. The farewell was hectic but the road trip with my 10 year old son was an unexpected salve; the kid’s a born traveller.
We landed on Tasmanian shores at dawn and stopped at Elizabeth Town for coffee where, in that serendipitous way, I ran into a school friend not seen for 24 years. Maybe I was just sleep deprived but
every chance meeting and familiar vista confirmed we’d arrived “home”. Three months later, it’s not so clear. The initial rush of reconnection has subsided and the post-move blues are lurking
behind unpacked book boxes. I still look at Mount Wellington with love but I miss the warm Burleigh sand between my toes.
The view from my new-old home is captivating.Looming behind our squat brick house is a wall of grey-green bush; in front, the hill slips down over well-heeled suburbs to the wide harbour. If we stay long enough, I’d like to ask the neighbours to remove a wattle that taunts me from the kitchen window – “you should see what’s behind me”, it goads. My very own forestry debate.
Tasmania’s closeness is easy to appreciate. I can walk to work without dripping in sweat, I don’t need a bank loan to pay for car parking, and the bus driver always says hello. Property is affordable, the food culture is blossoming, and there are plenty of tourists around. But I worry at night: Where are all the people? Who’s going to keep paying the bills? How can the state prosper? And what will my child do?
Queenslanders are just as parochial and narcissistic as Tasmanians. The sunshine state is beautiful and bewildering – flooding rains in summer, t-shirts in winter. But its size nurtures an
entrepreneurial spirit that Tasmania can only dream of.
Brisbane is flourishing – there are festivals and concerts and opportunities on every street corner; developments in every suburb; people striving and succeeding. It is a city that won’t be ignored.
It’s also a hard city – the traffic, the heat, the expense. It doesn’t make friends easily but I miss its openness and the feeling that just about anything could happen next.
In time, I hope that coming home doesn’t feel so much like going back.
September 2014.Barbara Cox is a Tasmanian born and bred media and communications professional, mum of boys, baker of cakes. She has recently returned to Hobart after four years in Queensland. Like most people, she’s complicated but is generally happiest sitting in the sun with a good book and a glass of wine.
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