Why Don’t We Live Here All The Time?


After a week in Queensland being mesmerised by coastal scenes, sunshine, and beachside restaurants, it can be hard to justify a wintery South Australian existence.

“Why don’t we live here all the time?” The third little traveller was gazing out to sea. Two months in South Australia, rugging up for walks and putting ugg boots on in the morning, the third little traveller had realised after his arrival in Queensland it had been days since he’d worn more than a t-shirt on his back. He’d been fishing with Grandad nearly every day, and watching old movies with Grandma.

“We live in Doha darls, that’s where Dad’s job is, it’s where you go to school, it’s where our life is right now.”

“Yes, but why did you buy a house in South Australia, not here?” We were standing in the kitchen of the apartment in Maroochydore, Queensland. The view was spectacular, the sea breeze gently making its way through the open doors on the balcony. We looked out over the beach, sandbars providing the only point of speculation, as the tide rolled in each one of us would comment on the changing scenery.

I reminded him of family, friends, and Christmas at Port Willunga. “I think you’ve forgotten how lovely summer is at Port Willy.”

“Yes, but it’s not really fair on Grandma and Grandad – they don’t get to see as much of us as everyone else.”

“You’re right, but wherever we live we’ll be sad that we’re missing out on someone. That’s what happens when you have people you love all over the world.”

He wasn’t convinced. He turned and pointed to the view “But Mum, have a look at it! It’s beautiful! I don’t get why you didn’t choose here.”

Over the past few weeks I’ve been having a quiet conversation with myself. It happens every year. I pass the point of being a visitor and life begins to look a little more permanent. More plans are made, another picture is hung, a purchase for the house. I watch the lemon tree grow, talk to local teachers, the women at the post office, and begin to park in the same spot at the shops. I head back to the hairdressers, have a follow up dental appointment. And as I stand on my favourite part of the beach and watch the children search for fossils and new shells I ask myself the very same question the third little traveller asked me “Why don’t we live here all the time?”

The hand written recipe book is back in our kitchen in Qatar. It has Muna’s cheesecake, Fran’s pancakes, and pages and pages of recipes I’ve picked up from friends we’ve met as we’ve travelled. Except for Gus’s lemon tart, it was a recipe I’d found and Gus its recipient. Like us he was an Aussie in Libya at the time, as a single bloke we invited him over for dinner as often as we could, there were many giggles. He wasn’t a fan of dessert but he loved my lemon tart which is why it became Gus’s. Each little traveller has made it, our eldest its biggest fan. The pages on the recipe book are stained with lemon juice, icing sugar and egg yolks.

After we’d said goodbye to Grandma and Grandad and dropped the hire car back at the airport we made our familiar trek towards the doors of the Brisbane airport. G was a few steps ahead of me, he had the little travellers by his side when I heard him gasp. I couldn’t see what was happening, I looked at the children, they were smiling but mystified. He dropped the bags, his pace quickened “Maaaaaaate” he was hugging someone.

It was Gus.

We were those people you see on television programs, reunited, trying to dab the moisture inconspicuously from our eyes, words tumbling out in-between large sighs. We’d hug and then hug again. Gus had fallen in love while we’d lived in Libya, a beautiful woman called Pilar, she’d worked with G. They were married now, G had been to see them years later in Perth on the night their first child had arrived. In our travels we’d lost contact, it was pre Facebook, Linked In. They’d moved to Brisbane. He was heading from the airport to pick his kids up from school. We had a plane to catch. We quickly made plans for next year. “We’re here at this time every year, next year we’ll get together, dinner.” Gus took a photo of us all. “Pilar won’t believe it.” He turned to me and shook his head in disbelief “look at the kids”. He’d held our babies in Libya, he now shook their hands goodbye in Brisbane.

As we walked away G and I continued to look stunned, smiling, wow, that was Gus! The children began mocking our reaction. The third little traveller mimicked his father “Maaaaaate!” We all giggled.

“Do you know who that was guys? That was Gus’s lemon tart!”

Instantly their faces lit up “Why didn’t you say? That was Gus’s lemon tart?! Oh wow.”

They’d heard us tell the story, each time the recipe book was opened. Our life in Libya, our friends, Mum learning to bake through necessity. How important our friends had been to us, the dinners, curry nights, bbq’s. Our house commonly known as the Australian Embassy.

I stood in line waiting to board the plane and smiled at the third little traveller. “I would never have met Gus had we not moved around so much. Moving around can be really hard, once you fall in love with a place it’s hard to have to let it go, but it’s the people that make the place, as long as you can keep hold of the people you’ll be fine.” He smiled, perhaps he understood, perhaps he’s still too young. Geographical schizophrenia can hit an any age.

Wherever we live we’ll be sad that we’re missing out on someone. That’s what happens when you have people you love all over the world.


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