It was a Moleskin book, a place to keep notes while I travelled, blank pages to jot thoughts down. The kind of perfect gift only a writer would think to give another before they set off on an adventure. In the back was a map of New York City and inside the front cover the inscription

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

The songs of the magpies and currawongs each morning rise above the rustling of the gum trees on the ridge above us. The familiar smells of damp earth on the creek bank running softly behind the house. In my heart I always was these things, but also an adventurer. A seeker of information and experiences.

My life in New York began as a experiment in career, a “what if….” and as I ventured further down that road I found, as with most things in my life, what I thought I was doing was just a ruse to get me to a different destination, one my limited imagination could never have conjured up.

An invitation to a weekend in the Catskills revealed my now husband, who was my neighbour back in the city. A mere city block away where he’d been quietly living all along. He had fallen in love with Australia a few years before our meeting, a fact he revealed shortly after we’d met. “I had a spiritual experience,” he told me. I got it. No further explanation was necessary.

I defended my decision to live in New York to him and on our many subsequent visits to Australia to visit my family he’d pose the question over again, “So whenever you’re ready I’m ready to move.” Once our son was old enough to have an opinion he joined in with, “yeah Daddy, why don’t we live in Australia?”

And so now I sit on my back verandah in southern Tasmania listening to the familiar morning sounds of my childhood. “I’m back” I tell the magpies. Just then a mob of majestic black cockatoos sweep down to add their chaotic cacophany to the soundscape. I’m amazed and in awe as they seem to loudly affirm my decision

I’ve been carrying this in my heart during my absence. At times closing my eyes and traveling back in my mind, feeling the warm damp earth under my feet, my nostrils filling with the sweet smell of the bush. For a very long time it was enough, until it wasn’t. I felt the prow of my ship start to turn slowly back toward the southern cross and home.

I return to the familiar but with with brand new eyes and ears. I belong here but I’m also a stranger. My experiences have shaped and informed me in astonishing ways, allowing me to delight in the simplest moments of ordinary life. Things that lay dormant in me were stirred from their place of resting and brought out into the light where they could be seen, examined and never sent back into the dark again. This is now the “Me” who returns to see and observe, to enjoy the familiar but with new delight.