Next Wednesday is lost in time for me. I leave this country on Tuesday evening and arrive some 13 hours later on Thursday morning in the city in which i was born, on a continent in which I have not set foot for nearly nine years.
Probably not only Wednesday will disappear, as I re-orient myself to family and friends who are currently etched as memories in places and times that dissolved long ago. One friend I have not seen for over 2 decades, and betwixt and between our friendship was strained, yet we both are eager to re-connect.
We cannot reclaim the past, yet it has shaped our present, so it is never lost to us. The future remains invisible, yet reflects the choices we have made and will make every day. This journey feels like a pilgrimage is some intangible way, a trip backwards towards forwards. My sister and I, who are each a poor correspondent and have not always had a smooth relationship, have been emailing each other. I sense the traverse of our past and the coming together of women in friendship. But one cannot predict, and I try to let go of expectations. Yet remain open-hearted. She has offered to pick me up at my post dawn arrival, the city awake I am sure, as I may not be. It is so long since I have lived in a city with the dimensions of Sydney. She lives in a small flat in an inner city suburb. Movement and sound and people and traffic....i imagine its crowded nature, as I now look out the window at the trees and the hills and the barn built over 100 years ago.Space and sky.
Homeland, heimat...i am unsure what this means any more, if I ever did. I was born in Australia, in a mid-city hospital, long since pulled down and re-developed. But while living in Alice Springs for 8 years, in the heart of the continent, I was forced to reflect on the conquest of the Aboriginal people whose land we stole. The intersection of our cultures was palpable there, something I had only read of in text books as an Anglo girl in a middle class life. I went once with a friend to a very remote Aboriginal community, a long, long way from the familiarity of our western lives, in every way - landscape and culture. I met old women who remembered the first contact with white people when they were young children. That struck me with force, that in our lifetimes this still occurred. They were frightened of the ghostly appearances. The people in that community spoke their traditional language, and suddenly there I shrank like Alice in the rabbit hole, to a tiny speck from another world cast into a place where I was foreign, and they not. In Australia. It was a transformational experience to understand I was born in a land that does not belong to me, yet it is my home, as it is theirs.
I spent some years living in Germany as a younger woman, in the Berlin still split by a wall. I was exposed to aspects of myself I did not know existed; perhaps they hadn't before I embraced that country and language. For many years - even now? - I considered Germany much more my second home than Australia, something not easily explained. Maybe it is just the glow of the exotic we feel when we live in places other than the land of our birth, especially those with cobbled streets, and even the menace of the Berlin wall.
I think of Dakini Valley as my home now, not so much even the USA, but this place that I love and that has nurtured me for all these years. Yet even that is not fixed. Nothing is. It is the attachment to people and time and place and - i have to add - dogs and cats that make us believe in our home, our belonging. Our yearning.
I have not been writing much at all. I have 3 formal rejections for my book. I don't know what the future will bring. I dance with so many ideas of what is important for me in this life - to accomplish, to be, the imprints I wish to leave behind. Perhaps being a writer is no longer as strong a pull as I had thought. My words will dissolve as will my flesh.
So I travel to places that will have changed countless times since I last was there. And I will meet people who have done the same. As have I. That, i guess, is all we ever really do in our lives. My wish is that the journey for us all will bring joy and the end of suffering.