Sunday, 23 June 2013

Which word is the hardest to say?

Which word is the hardest word to say in the English language? Is it sorry? Or is it goodbye?

I have been having a few teary goodbyes in the last few weeks, three of them at airports (always especially tricky) but this evening was my official going away gathering in Cairns and there were so many goodbyes to be had at once. So many good people - good friends - such uncertainty as to when we would be together again. Tonight is also my last night in my house, dear Mavis Blue, and tomorrow I put my two cats on a plane, consigning them to stress and fear for four days until Charles collects them in Montreal. I have offset this all with the remembrance of how hard it has been the eight times Charles and I have had to say goodbye at the airport, unsure of when exactly we would see each other again.

The hardest goodbye so far, however, is still not even over. I have a very special friend. He is 11 years old. He is high functioning autistic. We spend a lot of time together and tonight, even though I will stay with him and his parents for the next two nights before I leave Cairns, he cried his heart out for 30 minutes at my going away party and it broke my heart. I have been so strong and excited until now, but this was quietly devastating. The most positive spin I can put on the experience was to rejoice that he was able to actually articulate his feelings, and rationalise about how he knew I would still love him from afar and how happy I was going to be when I got to be with Charles all the time. That is a major communication for him and he was so clear about it all. I was very proud of him, but at the same time I was gutted. Sorry may be hard to get out of your mouth, but the pain of goodbye can last long after the word is spoken.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Farewell to Oz

Change is upon me so fast and furiously at the moment that - obviously - I am not having time to write about it. Not to worry, I am stockpiling stories in anticipation of a relaxing couple of Northern Summer months ahead in which I will play catch up, even though I suspect I will be laughing at my current naiveté by August.

At the moment I am in my hometown of Adelaide, South Australia, undertaking Phase 2 of the Farewell to Oz Tour ahead of my final decampment for Canada next week (Holy Crap!) The trip has been fantastic so far, made all the sweeter by the presence of one of my besties and former bridesmaid, Morgan, who flew over from Melbourne for her first proper experience of SA.

My parents, all four of them, live in the Adelaide Hills, so my trips here these days tend to be more semi-rural than urban, though Saturday involved the mandatory Central Market/Lucia's visit, and last night the mandatory Ying Chow meal. It would be fair to say that a large part of South Australian life revolves around good food and wine.

And this has had me thinking: did the place make the girl, or was the place perfect for her? Is my love of good food and wine nature or nurture? And was I, despite so many grass-is-greener, wanderlust tendencies, in fact born into just the perfect place for me? Ever since I brought Charles here in 2010 and he fell under South Australia's spell, I have viewed my hometown far more favourably than in previous years, and entertained more often the notion of - one day - maybe moving back.

Here, currently, as possibly in a number of other places, there is a mad craze for Yotam Ottolenghi and his food. My stepmother has just returned from a trip to London and Israel to visit relatives with her mother, and went to Ottolenghi's restaurant and stopped by a number of places in Israel that he featured in his cooking show. I was just reading the Introduction to the Jerusalem cookbook that he co-wrote with Sami Tamimi and found a passage on page 9 that summed up my present navel gazing:
"It is more than 20 years since we both left the city. This is a serious chunk of time, longer than the years we spent living there. Yet we still think of Jerusalem as our home. Not home in the sense of the place you conduct your daily life, or constantly return to. In fact, Jerusalem is our home almost against our wills. It is our home because it defines us, whether we like it or not."
There is a huge part of me that will always be defined by Adelaide's gastronomic obsessions, and its most particular sensibilities.

The pictures that accompany this post are of Sunday's trip to Port Willunga, my favourite beach near Adelaide, about 45-50 minutes drive south of the city. My parents, Morgan and I popped in there after visiting my grandmother in McLaren Vale for her 90th birthday and then having an entertaining family lunch and a drive around the Vale. There is certainly something about the clear Southern light, I think it is just beautiful.