How long do you need to live away from a place for it to no longer be your home?
I had mixed feelings coming back to Sydney for a visit. On the one hand, I was missing sunshine badly. The excitement of living in Europe faded long ago. I am no longer immune to the short winter days and dreariness of grey. I was missing brilliant blue skies and the ability to go outside without first wrapping up. My Southern Vietnamese blood, made for 30+ degree temperatures, was yearning for sticky heat.
On the other hand, I wasn’t particularly excited to go. If it weren’t for my family, I wouldn’t. Take my family and weather out of the equation, and there isn’t much I miss about Australia. I was feeling anxious and reluctant to leave behind our animals, our farm, our apartment.
It’s amazing how much you can quickly forget about your birthplace. I no longer remember transport connections or where certain places are located. I have use my GPS to check I’m going in the right direction. There seems to be construction going on everywhere, new businesses and buildings appearing between my visits. I no longer know which cafes or bars to go to. Sydney seems almost unrecogniseable to me. It doesn’t feel like the same city that I left almost six years ago.
Or maybe it’s me. I am a different person to who I was when I lived here. My life now is so different to the life I lived here. I no longer know how to belong in this city. Sydney no longer feels like home.
I catch myself imagining what I’d be doing in Germany in sunny weather. Chilling in Tempelhof or chasing my chickens? I’m enjoying my time, but I also wouldn’t mind being back. I spent a lot of my adolescence and early adulthood dreaming of escaping Sydney, it’s hard to imagine living here again.