My parents started out in Adelaide in 1980, which is where I was born. We left when I was still a baby, leaving behind some of the relatives who had come with my parents to Australia. Despite moving away from Adelaide so long ago, my ties to the city remain reasonably strong, and I visit regularly. This time I also caught up with new and old friends, including a friend I met ten years ago in Canberra who’s just had her first child. I usually go to Adelaide once a year, though my visit last weekend was exactly three years since my last one because of all my travelling.
With regard to travel, I think one of the main reasons I love it is to find out how other people live. Last weekend, spending time with my cousins and their families reminded me that you don’t have to always travel overseas to peer into a totally different life; in so many ways, their very settled lives feel so different to mine. They have kids and husbands and homes to maintain; and then I look at my life, which seems so unsettled in comparison. But I’m trying hard to stand more still, given all the planning for the future here in Sydney.
It’s funny to think how my life might have turned out had we stayed in Adelaide. It’s a beautiful town and has so many things going for it, but it seems so small, with fewer opportunities than a place like Sydney. Spending time in Northern Thailand made me realise just how much of a big city girl I am, complete with big city ambitions. When I found myself bored with the smallness of Chiang Mai I tried to find ways to make it seem bigger than what it was. If I lived in Adelaide, I’d feel the same.
In other news, I’ve now started writing for national magazine The Big Issue. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, because it’s such a natural fit for my personal essays and my deep need to ‘make a difference’ (half of the cover price goes to the vendors that sell them, often men and women who are homeless). I recently submitted a story I wrote a while back, in time for Thanksgiving today, and am over the moon about how the story was published with beautiful illustrations. The story is about celebrating Thanksgiving with my friend Sarah, who passed away from a mental illness in May 2009. It’s a tribute to the friendship we had. The editor of the magazine is keen to see more of my work, so now I’m writing another article about Lunar New Year. I’m really beginning to feel that my writing is moving in the right direction.
I know I sound as busy as ever, but somehow this time round in Sydney the pace of my life is actually far slower. I’ve decided that whatever I undertake from now should be done to count for something, though I’m still not sure exactly where it’s all leading. I’m looking forward to finding out.