Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Death and Heroin

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
from The Walrus and the Carpenter - Lewis Caroll.

Some years ago I watched a movie called Hotel Sorrento.

It's an Australian movie set in - you guessed it - Sorrento.

Sorrento is a seaside town in the state of Victoria in Australia; the state of Victoria is where I'm from. The movie is about an "expat sister" - a woman living I think in London, who travels back to Australia and who meets up with her living-in-Australia sisters at the beach town-family home in Sorrento.

Great movie - though I can't remember much of the detail.

Living in the U.S. and being Australia-born, I am very aware of the disconnect between myself and my Australian friends and family. But I do remember the friction between the "Hotel Sorrento" expat and her home-grown, home-living sisters.

And of course I identify with the "expat sister".

Alice and the Mad Hatter, Central Park, New York
I've been an expat for some fifteen plus years - and as the years go by, my Australian friends and family are becoming increasingly less (in numbers).

In this day and age I'm not alone or unusual. There are heaps of us 'expats'. People who have taken up a life abroad and because of this, have become distanced from their roots.

We "expats" are not immigrants in a foreign land - we have not moved to another country because of economic or political necessity. We are just - 'somewhere else'.

We are neither tourist nor immigrant. But nevertheless - even if it is because of our own volition - we are distanced.

As the years go by I find my circle of Australian friends becoming smaller. Like layers of an onion at each concentric remove.

Why do we stay away? Why don't we return?

There are many reasons and they are not the same for each "expat".

I've thought about this a lot - as the years go by I am more attached to America and less attached in many ways, to the country of my birth - Australia.

And perhaps because of this 'distance', when I call my friends and family in Australia, our conversations are distilled. They aren't about day-to-day activities because we are not attached to each other in a day-to-day sort of way. The conversations are instead about major life concerns. The bigger picture. It isn't a "natural" situation or dialogue. But my best friends and best family do their best - and it doesn't go unnoticed.

I am always reaching out to my friends and family in Australia. But the circle is shrinking.

Do they know?

Do they care?

Yes of course they do. But they have their own lives.

I appreciate more than they will ever know, those Australians who have remained true family and friends - who are there any time night or day to talk of

heroin and things....


nautiaussie said...

True for so many of us.........more "real" people here in expat-land, but those true, die-hard, heart friends, still so very much there for us back in Australia. They knew us way back when, and do understand.

Anonymous said...

You are lucky to still have die-hard, heart friends Anta, and yes, you too Kate. But as you age those friends die off, you will lose them through lack of communication and lack of a common life thread. You are still relatively young, Anta, and I suspect you lived more of your twenties in Oz when you bonded as adults. You will keep those friends longer, and Kate, your uni and European travels friends and friends with whom you shared your babies, they will be with you for the longest. But they too will drift off enmeshed with their grandchildren, new spouses, and their own self focus until what is left is your immediate circle in wherever you are living. Very sad? Yes, but to use a worn out phrase, that's life.
I feel closer to most of you because of your ex-patriatism than most of my now drifting-away school friends and distant rellies. Why? Because we share our feelings, our experiences and our common heritage in a country we still love but realize that it's one we many never return to.
Thank you both for your friendship.

TJ said...

You guys are talking like old people---Times have changed! You have to get out there! If you are running short on friends,get out there and get a few new ones.It's easy*

*(conditions apply)

Anonymous said...

TJ, face it, we are all are getting old. It's an inescapable fact! Like it or not, you will be your mother or father at some time if you live long enough. Suck it up!

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