When The Plane Descends To Land…

The frangipani in my back yard this morning.


It should be stinking hot here right now. This is usually the time when friends begin posting photos of car temperature gauges to share.

“How about that heat”.

“It’s hot all right.”

“Hot enough for ya?”

Except it’s not.

It’s muggy, it’s a little grey, and for the past few days we have had sprinkles of rain. Rain! We’re lucky to get five days of rain in a year.

I walked outside this morning and saw all the tiny little drops on flowers. Flowers that would normally be scorched and desperate for a drink.

The first little traveller and I got lost last night. We were driving aimlessly looking for a landmark when she reminded me of all the calls I used to make to G when we first arrived. “Umm, I’m not sure where I am exactly, but there’s a mosque in front of me and a vacant lot next to a housing compound on my right.”

When we first moved here we’d get lost all the time. I’d head out to weird locations in search of something I’d either heard or read about. I read the guide books, looked in Time Out for what was on. I hardly ever do that anymore.

When we eventually found our way home we drove past the convention centre, I thought about Kevin Spacey in Richard III. I was third in line for those tickets. That was when I pushed myself a little more to find out about what was on and how to get there.

After three years in Qatar I’ve recently felt the itch and subsequently dropped into the funk. The funk that begins with a holiday away that just didn’t feel long enough. The funk that looks longingly for what you’ve left behind. The funk that entertains the idea that maybe, just maybe we could. What? Go home? Move somewhere else?

I sat across the table from a South Australian politician the other night at dinner, a group of delegates were visiting Qatar. We talked of communities, schools, suburbs, the Middle East, South Australia. The guy next to me explained his life in the Adelaide hills and why he couldn’t imagine anywhere better to live. He felt it was home.

“I’m not originally from Adelaide but when the plane descends to land – I get a feeling of home.”

I know that feeling. I’ve descended often, but it’s not always the same home. I get that feeling when we land in Melbourne on our way home from Qatar. When you’re overseas every piece of Australia becomes home – not just one.

I definitely get the feeling of home in Calgary. When I landed in Jakarta in February I felt that I was meant to stay, that Asia was where I belonged. Adelaide is home. Port Willunga has recently become the destination that holds a sizable chunk of my heart, something G and I have agreed we can never let go. And Renmark – well Renmark holds my soul, it’s who I am. It was my first, home.

Another guest offered the formula to knowing where home was. “It’s where you’d like to die.”

Without thought I jumped in “No, it’s where you’d like to have your ashes spread.”

I could die anywhere.

“So where would you spread your ashes?”

And that’s when I realized why there would always be a funk. A question. A dilemma.

“I think I’d have to have them spread in a few places….”

I haven’t been fair on Qatar lately. It has so much to offer and I’ve stuck with the same formula. The school run, dinner with friends, a trip for an ice-cream, a swim on the weekend. There is so much going on here and I’ve stayed in my comfort zone.

It’s not meant to rain at this time of year. There’s still surprises to be found. It’s time to get lost.

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  1. “Every piece of australia becomes home”…..oh this is so true. Does not matter where I land in Oz, or take off from – its all packed with emotions of ‘home’. 🙂 x

  2. It’s a horrid feeling, that funk, isn’t it? I have had it for a few months (first time) and not sure if it’s about moving back ‘home’ or ready for a new adventure.
    Not even sure where I’d like to retire, let alone die or have ashes scattered.
    Talking of ashes scattered in several places, have you read The Travelliing Funeral of Annie Freeman? It’s about exactly this – Annie Freeman has so many places that mean something to her, she sets her friends off on a mission to ensure a little part of her is everywhere. It’s a fabulous story of friendship and well, home.
    Enjoy the cool rain while it lasts x

  3. The very best things happens when you’re lost! I was lost in the citadel in Hue (Vietnam) during the Chinese New Year and was taken in by a family to share their celebrations. Their only words of English were ‘What is your name? Where are you from?’. I can say thank you in Vietnamese and that’s all. So I have absolutely no idea what was going on, what I ate – or any of it. But it was a wonderful day – and I’ll never forget them.

  4. I have one expat friend who has outlined in his will that his two sons need to divide his ashes between them and then take him on their holidays for the next five years after he dies. Then they can do with him what they will. He just wants to keep traveling and seeing the world for a little while longer.

    I don’t know where I want my ashes spread yet, because there are so many places that mean so much to me, but I do know that when the US immigration agent says, “Welcome home,” tears jump involuntarily into my eyes. Can’t help it.

  5. I know the feeling. It’s that of every expat I think. After becoming a US citizen I thought I was sure my home was here. Then we moved to Africa. If there is any place I’d want my ashes spread, it’s there. You’ve opened up an interesting line of thinking. I love the book suggestion, will download it too!

  6. Love the idea of different places! I always thought of the sea, that way you keep on following the waves across the globe. Thanks for the book tip.

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