A long way from home the weather here has taken a turn for the weird. Its 32' in the shade, and shade is all there is... Its cloudy and overcast, and there is a 50mph wind howling through the streets, but its somehow made it to 32' and almost 100% humidity. Tomorrow the forecast is 19' and heavy rain.
This is not polar bear weather. And the educated reader will know that if you had to pick an animal that your author most resembled, it would be more in the polar bear area than the antelope department that one would search. Built for the colder climate, i have spent many a summer avoiding the sun whilst laying down fat for the winter, and have successfully managed to grow an all over layer of fur to fend off the very fiercest Northerlies.
And 'tis a long walk back from the doctor, who wondered why i had bothered to come and see him. He read the notes from Monday and then phoned the lab who informed him that no trace of anything had been found. Rather than declare me a medical curiosity and have me stuffed and sent to the museum, he instead very charmingly accused me of wasting his time and demonstrated with much politeness which of the available exits would be the best for me to use. Ah the pleasure of being the last appointment of a bored doctor's day!
So back to the oak panelled reception where the leather sofas and ferocious air conditioning lull you into comfort as the smiling assassin behind the desk seizes $50 from you, for the wonderful pleasure of being dismissed by Dr Really-Nicebloke. For the first time this week my thumb stands naked to the world, and apart from being a strange orange colour looks much better. I think, again for the first time this week, that i will live. And live a good, full life, free from the fear of sudden thumb death syndrome...
As you would expect, this brush with mortality (stop tutting, you really can die of a sore thumb, probably, somehow) makes you question life, makes you aware of the transient nature of all of us. Walking through streets with buildings as old as the nation, aware you are in a country with people older than time who celebrate Gods who walked the earth a billion years ago... Melbourne is a delicious contrast of old buildings and young people. Its remarkable just how young the people are - its actually surprising to see someone over 50. There are so many students and backpackers here that the average age in the City must be something in the 20s. And summer is a cummin' in, so, in the words of Bruce, girls in their summer clothes pass me by... It makes you feel young, makes you smile inside, and reminds you that your sweaty beetroot face is probably scaring a lot of very innocent passers by! There is a huge Asian population, who dont seem to be permanent, but do seem to be everywhere. Australia is still importing people at a huge rate, and has publicly stated it wants more, and you notice when working and living amongst the 2nd and 3rd generation imports that this does create some tension.
And being in Oz reminds me of the last time i was here, when a casual phone call home brought news of mum in hospital, dad crying, doctors concerned, time short... A frantic weekend of charging for home - 12,000 miles via LA and Chicago and a desperate, terrified time with no contact and no reassurance, not knowing what would greet me... And in the end a smiling mum showing absolutely no sign of any illness which was at once relief and release, and guilt at wondering whether we could have had another 3 months Down Under...
And this time is different. This time i left the wife behind, and this time i am in touch and talking several times a day. Its hard enough trying to work out the time difference without then trying to work out whether its a good or bad time to call. The excitement and joy from hearing a little hello from the other end is wonderful, knowing that your wife is happy and safe, knowing the boys got home from school, knowing that the dogs have finally decided to come home... Just the news that the chimneys didnt blow down in the night, that a neighbour has popped round for coffee, and that we have a spare bag of tile adhesive for the weekend... these things seem at home like boring and unimportant, things that are almost too embarrassingly banal to report. But for those of us a moon away they are the wonderful, glorious anchors that tie us to somewhere and someone special. There is no greater pleasure at this distance than to hear your baby's voice, and picture her there in woolly pyjamas, tucked up under the duvet with the cat saying miaow all over the place... or to hear the wind in the phone as she wastes her time calling Monty back across the field.... or just to hear that "nothing, really" has happened, again, for the fourth time this week.
I'm working with good kind people who are genuinely interestered in who I am, where i come from, what i do... And its a real pleasure to tell them - i'm not Dean from Sabre, I'm Dean from Henfield who is married to Kitty, with boys and dogs and a little house in the country. And its the stupid little stories they want to hear, the boring nothing happeneds, and i tell them, and get a little glow inside. Its an ordinary life, turned extraordinary by the house we live in, the job i do, and the path i walked to get here. But I'm glad i drove tanks, hot air ballooned across the desert, saw tigers and rhinos, had sunrise at Monument Valley, and all the rare, exciting, life changing moments that made me who I am... but dont ask me to change my life now. Having that solid base, of a loving, devoted wife, a little family of my own, and finally a house to call my own... that is happiness.
Some would say i was blessed. That implies someone gave me this, some higher power divined it. What a sad, disillusioned fool that would be. I worked for this, i chose this, and i love this life.