What is home? Is it being around the people you love? Is it a place that you rent, or that you own? Is it the place where you grew up, where your memories are, or is it the place where you came of age and started to create your own life?
I’m back in Perth, the place where I’ve spent most of my life (though not recently), and it’s weird. It’s weird because almost every street, every café, every beach and park, has some kind of connotation or memory attached to it that floods back as I drive or walk past.
In one drive today from the Perth hills to where I’m staying by the beach I saw:
John Forrest National Park: A beautiful historical park with lakes and ancient granite outcrops. It’s the best of the lovely bush typical of the Eastern hills with white-trunked Wandoo eucalypts and blackboys sprouting waterfalls of strappy green leaves. I used to walk there all the time.
My Old House: One of them, I’ve lived in about 50 in Perth. This is my most recent one, the one I shared with the Ex on a gorgeous one acre bush block. I craned my neck as we drove past to see down the long driveway, everything looked the same.
The Perth Foreshore: A wide, long strip of open grassed space next to the Swan River. I remembered the night-time aerial show I’d seen there at the last Festival of Perth. Visions of long lines of jumpsuited Frenchmen, dangling from a huge crane, with changing lights playing over them, sprang unbidden into my mind.
Stirling Highway and Mounts Bay Rd Intersection: Out of nowhere I remembered a night, many years ago, when my crazy friends and I had been to a Reggae festival at the Passenger Terminal in Fremantle. Then we decided to walk home to Subiaco (note: it’s about a 40 minute drive). Long story short, some cops picked us up on Stirling Hwy and gave us a lift in the back of the paddy wagon. Rory was shitting himself because, it being a reggae night at all, he had a big fat joint stashed on his person that he was saving for later. The cops let us out at the intersection and waved us goodbye.
Cottesloe Beach: I walked along the bike path in the warm winter sun. The bright, clear light made me wish I’d brought sunglasses. The ocean was so wide. I could see it like rippling blue silk stretching out to either side of me in curves. Huge cargo ships balanced improbably on the horizon. I thought back to all the days I’d spent on this beach, all the times I’d plunged into the refreshing aqua salt water, the times I burrowed my toes into hot sand while lying on my stomach on my beach towel. No matter how many beaches in the world I visit, still my favourite.
Little Creatures Fremantle: We ate hand-cut frites and mussels cooked in white wine and shallots and washed it down with two middies each of the Little Creatures Pale Ale. I was amused, as always, by the mixed clientele of miners, locals, and yuppies, served with energy and efficiency by a team of young hipsters in dreads and piercings.
Ginos Fremantle: I sipped a cappuccino and ate hazelnut gelato outdoors. On the next table an old Italian man with a fedora hat and thick black framed glasses sang under his breath. He was joined by a short bald man holding lattes in fingerless leather gloves. Only a few tables with customers, but my memory overlays them with a vision of every seat taken, friends greeting each other exuberantly, the smell of clove cigarettes and Gino’s famous seafood risotto in the sweet summer air. Eccentrics and artists and hippies and families and travellers all basking in the joy and the community of this triangle shaped patio sandwiched between two intersecting streets that is both the loungeroom and the heartbeat of this little town that I call home. Or used to.
What about you? What’s your definition of home?