I'm sitting, sweating, in a room in the house I used to live at in Sydney. It is like a homecoming that I am trying frantically to deny, or derail (this isn't home, although it is beautiful and familiar and filled with love). Tonight was spectacular, one of those surprisingly rare but so very iconic Sydney nights where the temperature stays at 32C until midnight, when a thunderstorm growls through and pushes the heat out with the anticipated southerly change. In this high-up little room at the back of the house, with all the windows open, I can smell the fat hot drops of rain meeting the cooked dirt, and feel the whisper of cooler breezes just beginning to supersede the hot, dry winds of the day. It is beautiful, and known, and sings to me of 26 years of remembered summers.
I am stirring to life again, sort-of, after being absolutely slaughtered by jet lag for the first week after I landed. I had no idea it could be so bad (last time I guess I sidestepped it by spending a week in Thailand halfway here). Worse again for a 12 hour delay in my flight, pushing transit-hell out to a 36 hour ordeal and 2 entire missed nights of sleep. I landed, hugged my friends, bolted for the beach, came home and collapsed into an 18 hour sleep. Then did essentially the same routine (beach, 18 hours of sleep, beach, 18 hours of sleep) for most of the week. It's a nice way to be, in this city, at this time of year.
Oh Sydney, you funny old town. I am not settled into being here. Half-holiday half-homecoming is a strange way to be somewhere. I offer some resistance to being swept up into the same life I had before I left, but that resistance is mostly brushed cheerfully aside. It's hard to hold a boundary in the face of a city that knows how to pick up my strings and play me along in one very particular dance of myself.
When I was in Berlin and I reached for moments of my Sydney self to keep me strong, I always came back to the marine experience: face-down in the ocean, breathing plastic-scented air through a tube, pushing hard off from the rocks and communing with darting fish and swirling kelp. Here, when I think of Berlin, I think of riding (of course), riding through the grey Autumn light, grinning fiercely, fingers frozen to the handlebars, feeling elated and alone with bare trees and brusque strangers. It is a shock to the system to go from one to the other so fast. There is something so brutal- brutal the way that surgery is brutal- about packaging yourself into a metal tube in the sky to swap one hemisphere and season for another in a matter of days. One or the other experience feels like a dream- Sydney or Berlin- I can't figure out which, though.