Not WOW! I got to go to Australia, or WOW! long way for five days, but WOW! “I just got HOME.”
Twenty-three years ago I flew out to the States for a “Holiday,” a short little four and a half week holiday. I know what you’re thinking, just four and a half weeks to come all the way over here? I would have booked for longer, but I had stuff that needed doing back in Oz.
I remember clear as smog the first steps I took outside Tom Bradley International: noisy, warm, and bustling. Cliche, huh? But that's what it was: buses honking, taxis fighting for fares, cops blowing whistles, excited greeters hugging...crying...screaming, hawkers trying to take your luggage cart so they could return it for the fifty-cent refund.
Thirty-two hours in transit: from Perth, to Auckland, to Honolulu, and finally to LAX. I was tired, sore, smelly, and had a total lack of enthusiasm for the ride with my five-year-old nephew to Anaheim on a Grey Lines Hotel bus, but here I stood in the center island of suitcases with the kid pulled so close to me I could pass for a new Transformer.
There’s a smell about America, a smell I immediately identify with: gasoline. In Bahrain: sweat; Singapore: soy sauce; Seoul: prawn crackers; London: cut grass; Venice: swimming pools; Hong Kong: diesel fuel; Sydney: custard pies! It’s a sensory impact for me every time I walk out the sliding glass doors up that little ramp to the street level at Tom Bradley. Nowadays it’s a signal I’m home, but it used to be a signal that I was on holidays.
That trip twenty-three years ago with my five-year-old nephew was supposed to be a trip for just me and him, he was my best mate, the first-born child to any of my siblings. It was also a way for me not to end up in any trouble; I was, after all, responsible for the well-being of a child. However, I met a girl, immediately fell in love, and my life has never been the same since, but thats another story!
There’s two points to this story, the first being that every time I flew out of LAX back to Australia (and that's been many times) I felt like I was flying home, even on this last short trip. But for some reason when I landed last Friday morning and walked up the ramp to the parking lot bus, my nose filling with gasoline fumes, my eyes burning with smog, tired and badly in need of a shower, I felt like I was home. I became an American Citizen eight years ago, but Friday, for the first time, I became an American.
This piece of writing is pretty disjointed I know, but for me it’s the beginning of a journey. I have been a member of the Swaggers and participated fully when we first started, but I’ve been sick, not physically, but mentally. I’ve been dealing with depression and it hasn’t been fun. Those that know me, know me as a jovial funny bugga, who pretty much takes life as it comes and I typically don’t just make lemonade, I make LEMONADE! But this thing threw me a knuckle-ball. I could see it coming. I thought I could handle it. So I swung for the fences and struck out. Three weeks ago I said, "Bugger this!" and removed myself from the drugs I’d been prescribed. It wasn’t a great two weeks, but I think I’m back on a normal path now.
Kim sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago asking for a piece of writing if or when I felt up to it. I have pondered the e-mail she sent me for two days, and here’s the result. Like a very good friend of mine tells me constantly, “There’s only one way to be a writer. Ass in Chair, Words on Paper.” This may be a piece of disjointed, rambling words on paper, but it feels like a victory!