I've come to the conclusion that I'm more of a homebody than I ever imagined. When I went away to university, when I officially moved out of the family home for good, and again when I emigrated, I allowed myself to believe that I was slightly more exciting - that I wasn't bound by piffling concepts like "feeling settled". But the gig's up. I don't need to know where I'm going to be in five years but I need to know where I'm going to be living in August - right now I don't, and suspect that's why I can't write. And when I'm not writing, I'm hideous.
On the same theme but slightly bigger picture, the trouble is I'm not convinced I can ever truly feel 'at home' in Australia. As much as I love it, as much as Melbourne itself feels like somewhere I could be really happy, being here feels like being away. Even after more than a year, it doesn't even feel real. It's got the allure of adventure, and of learning new things, and of being an alien (for all I moan about that side of things, and for all the other Poms in this place). But it's not home.
We've been given the heave-ho on the lovely house we've been renting since we emigrated (and not because The Australian has singed one wall with the bbq - they don't know about that yet - but because they're selling it). This house is in a very nice neighbourhood, with very nice schools and very nice neighbours. It's... very nice. And what have I decided? We should leave the area completely. Jack this place in. Start again somewhere else in the city. Meet new mums. Make the children say goodbye to the friends they love. Wipe out all of my useful local knowledge (fortunately that's not much, as happens when you walk around with your head in the clouds).
It sounds selfish when I put it like that. Maybe it is. Maybe the children will hate me for a little while. Maybe the neighbours won't be as nice elsewhere. Maybe the new place (mythical right now - we might be on a park bench if we don't find somewhere soon) won't be a better fit.
Maybe you simply have to stay still a bit longer for a place to feel like home.
Gawd, it's all a bit sombre in here. Let me lighten the mood with a writers' joke:
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"
"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."