Hotel and I have been cataloguing the things we think we’ll miss when we leave. Partly because we’ve almost exhausted the ‘where will we visit’ discussion (answer: all the places) but primarily to try and make the most of the things we love during the few short weeks we have left. It goes without saying that family and friends, the people we’ve known forever, will be the gap most sorely felt. But the other, smaller, daily delights that make Australia home are always interesting; it’s a nice reminder of the things we current enjoy.
Food, particularly Asian food, is going to be a killer. I remember coming home from Dublin for a month long holiday and wanting to eat ALL THE YUM CHA. We have a mediocre Thai place across from our house at which we semi-regularly indulge (spicy duck noodles for him, chicken pad see ew for me), and I’m partial to a steaming pork bun from Kylie Kwong’s market stall most weekends. I also cannot live – I exaggerate not – without dumplings. I’ve heard that Asian food is hard to come by in Switzerland, and I already know I’ll be craving all the delicious things. In this general eats category also falls coffee – not such a big deal for me but Tim loves it the most (well, maybe second to red wine). Having said that I sorely missed it in the States; but Italy is a short trip away if Swiss coffee turns out to be a dud.
To continue the gluttonous theme, I’m also going to miss the procurement of food. I have a dreamy routine that I’ve held for years – my Saturday morning excursion to the markets. It was lazier before the girl arrived, but happily it continues: I arrive early, choose my fresh flowers. Shop for veggies with the same people who’ve served me for years and who never fail to ask how the girl is doing. I then grab a coffee and stroll through the other vendors to grab my eggs, bread, the afore mentioned pork bun and then anything that jumps out at me. Last Saturday it was avocados and pine mushrooms, sometimes it’s rhubarb or mandarins or lamb cutlets or broad beans. Anything that looks delicious and will give me an excuse to potter in the kitchen. There will be markets in Switzerland of course – apparently excellent ones – but I’ll miss the comfort of the routine I’ve carved over the years.
We’ll also miss our ‘burb. There’s a park down the end of our street that the girl and I play in most days (by play, I mean I stare vacantly and she rolls around), which has a pool where she does her swimming lessons with Tim on Saturdays (by lessons, I mean goes in and splashes a bit while Tim sings to her). The trees that line our street are spectacular in Autumn and blossom in Spring; we have jasmine on our fence and gardenias near the stoop that scent the night air in summer. We have a local that we love, great cafes close by, and wonderful neighbours who share a wine and kid complaints at the drop of a hat.
I’ll miss – surprisingly to me – my mothers’ group. It’s a story in itself I guess, but I’d assumed I wouldn’t be into it, or at least dreaded the people I’d meet. As it turns out, mine’s great, and they’ve been a big part of helping me feel more settled with my girl. It feels like I’ve just found a gang and now we’re leaving; but one of the awesome things about the facebooks is that I’ll still be in touch and able to spend hours discussing sleep / baby food / gross nappies with people who are vaguely interested.
Tim grew up in the mountains, and we’re both big fans of hiking. One of the attractions of Switzerland is the alps and the walking we’ll be able to do, but we’ll miss the Australian bush. Ostensibly sparse, its hidden surprises of intricate wildflowers, undercurrent of primeval danger, and ever changing microcosms of life are a paradox of which we will never tire. We have been trying to steal snatches of walks where we can, to breathe in the heavy damp eucalypt scent and feast our eyes as much as possible on the wattle which has just started blooming.
Switzerland is land locked and our beaches will be missed, but more than that we’ll miss our harbour. Sydney is a stunning city – her harbour is majestic, captivating; we’ve both lived here for years and yet that sparkling blue or moody grey can still take our breath away. A lazy stroll through the Botanic Gardens, a drink at Opera Bar or even a flirtatious glimpse through the backstreets of Glebe all bring a thrill that make you feel like she’s both a first date and an old friend.
We’re also city folk. Sure, Australia is backwater in some ways and sure, Sydney ain’t no NYC. But we’ll be moving to a teeny tiny town where apparently shops! aren’t! open! on! Sundays! (or after 6pm, but I’ve already used about ten years’ worth of exclamation marks in this sentence so enough already). We’ll miss being able to nip out to see a band, to go to the Wharf theatre, to view the gorgeous fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Admittedly we have done none of these things since we had the girl – man, I was in bed by nine last December 31 – but it ain’t the point.
But most of all, we think we’ll miss our home. We’ve been here for four years, and it’s the place we chose to build a future together. It’s the first place that was purely ours, the two of us together, and it’s the place to which we brought our girl home from the hospital. We’ve had family stay with us here, many drunken dinners and parties, nights where the two of us danced around the kitchen, and a regrettable evening getting tanked and reciting poetry in honour of Banjo Patterson’s anniversary. I’ve spent countless hours watching our girl grow here – from sleeping all day in her mosquito net covered crib downstairs to wobbling precariously on her knees just this afternoon. I’ve spent rainy afternoons cuddling her to sleep. I’ve sighed with relief when we cross the threshold after a day out, knowing we’re back home, at our own place with its familiar enveloping comfort. None of these are tethered, though. It’s cliched, but I guess there’s a reason for that: we can create our own home wherever we are. It may not have amazing – or indeed any – pork buns each Saturday morning, but it will have the three of us.