Who’s got your back?

I was over at Edenland this morning. As I am most mornings. I read her post about guardian angels and feathers and then read her question.

“What’s your own personal sign that things will be ok? That you’re safe, in the world. That something or someone has your back.”

A girlfriend of mine returned home from backpacking with her boyfriend. They’d done the usual thing, worked/saved/partied while traveling all over the world. They’d made new friends and had a great time, but they were ready to come home. There’s something that happens in you mind when you book that final ticket. The one that gives you a permanent date to give to your family. The date that kicks off the countdown.

When they landed in Sydney she was surprised by how emotional she felt about it all. The familiar billboards at the airport, the accents, and the signs that she hadn’t seen for over a year had an effect she hadn’t prepared for. And then a man said something that tipped her over the edge. Her feelings moved from excited to emotionally fragile.

As they made their way to customs an Aussie airport employee stood in uniform, smiling at them while he waved them through. He was directing the traffic to the appropriate lines.

“Welcome back all you Aussies – c’mon come over here” it was the combination of his accent, both the tone and the expression, that brought a wave of emotion to my girlfriend. I’ve heard her tell the story a few times of how significant that welcome was, and I’ve nodded each time fully understanding what she meant.

When we moved to Libya from Kuala Lumpur I arrived on a tourist visa. What I didn’t realize when I did that, was that I couldn’t leave until we had our permanent visas processed. The result was I couldn’t go anywhere. I was in Tripoli until we could get our paperwork sorted out. And that paperwork was going to take awhile. I wouldn’t have minded had I not been the only woman sharing a house with 40 men who were rotating in and out of the desert in six week blocks. I can’t tell you how delightful it was to get my boobs out and breastfeed our three week old in front of some those men.

Months later, when the paperwork came through it was Christmas time and I was not missing out on returning to Australia. I needed to get home. I’d gone from sharing a house with 40 blokes to sharing a house with a goat. Our marriage had gone through the arrival of a new baby, moving country, not being able to find a home, a boss from hell and a child who refused to both sleep or take a bottle.

I really needed to touch Australian soil.

I needed to see my family, my friends. I wanted a piece of toast with vegemite, a pie with sauce and a Weekend Australian magazine. I wanted to see my father hold our now 5 month old second little traveler. G flew with me to Dubai and I did the second leg to Perth without him.

As I stood in the customs line in Dubai I watched my fellow travelers, all standing in line holding their passports, I looked for passports that matched my own. Some were red, others were green, each time I saw another blue one I’d look closely at the emblem on the front. I wanted to talk to someone who was as excited about going home as I was. Throughout the flight I struck up conversations with anyone who made eye contact.

And then, when we landed in Perth – I cried.

I’d made it.

“What’s your own personal sign that things will be ok? That you’re safe, in the world. That something or someone has your back.”


It scares me that my answer to this question is Australia.

The something that has my back – is my country. And yet, I’m still not living there – but maybe it’s because of this, that I appreciate and respect it so much.

The next time you hear someone use the phrase “but she doesn’t even live in Australia” can you throw something at them for me? I’ve heard it so often. This week when Jessica Rudd spoke of her father and the political system in Australia “but she doesn’t even live in Australia”, when Cadell Evans had a ticker tape parade in his honour in Melbourne “but he doesn’t even live in Australia”.

Trust me – we don’t become less Australian when leave. If possible, we become more so.


It doesn’t matter which city I land in, it can be Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Brisbane – there’s an automatic feeling that comes with arriving home. The first sight of the Opera House, a packet of BBQ shapes in a corner shop, the lights at the MCG, strolling down the Southbank in Brisbane or having a beer in Rundle Street in Adelaide. It all feels like home.

It feels safe. It feels like someone has my back. That things will be okay.

I’m joining Edenland’s fresh horses brigade. Check it out.

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