Emails from overseas tend to come in the morning. Draped in a gown of sleep I make a pot of green tea and wander downstairs to my study. Usually I don’t turn on the wifi until later. Early morning with the laughing kookaburras is my time to write. My time to think. My time of quiet before the storm that is my children. But sometimes I can’t resist the pull of email, the latest updates, connecting with my Dad in Canada.
Did you ever notice how turmoil and sadness roll in sets, like the curves and crashes of the ocean waves?
I have news from overseas. None of it good: an uncle with cancer, a friend who needs major surgery, another friend whose father has slipped out of remission. It pulls and tears at my insides that I am not there.
Is it trivial to talk about belonging when people are suffering, when the pain of uncertainty is palpable across oceans?
We are bombarded with news of escalating events in the Ukraine that’s left dozens of people dead and pro-Russian troops in the Crimea. At least 100,000 have been killed in atrocities in Syria over the last two years. Australian journalist Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and others who worked for Al Jazeera and have been in jail since December are to go on trial in Egypt today on terrorism charges.
I ask my massage therapist as she unfurls the knots that have prospered in my neck and right shoulder. She is a wise woman. She has pulled herself out of difficult circumstances. She has raised three children on her own. She is not afraid of spiders. She represents, in many ways, my idea of Australians before I lived here: strong, self-sufficient, undaunted, outspoken, self-educated, hard-working and hard-playing.
”No,’’ she says. ”This is about belonging. Your belonging. It’s about how you’re caught between these places. How you’re trying to make a home here and how you have a home there.’’
And a home in France and one in the UK. Home and belonging are not the same thing, but they are linked. Home is not mainly about place. It’s about people. It’s about family and those close friends I’ve left in other countries or who have moved on and left me.
No matter where I go now, I’ll be missing part of my home. Part of my people. Part of my invisible net of belonging.This is a hole that email cannot fill.