Return to Oz

Safety Beach, Australia

Two years had passed since seeing my friends and family back in Oz… two years since I’d had the searing Aussie sun on my back, since experiencing the feeling of crispy summer-sun-dried grass on the soles of my feet… It’s not an eternity. It’s not impossible to endure. Not when I chose to live so far away.

But it had been a hard two years of lockdowns and back pain and then the joyful but also emotional news of pregnancy. And I yearned with every part of me to get home.

And so eventually, after changing my mind, and changing it back, I did just that.

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What happened to all your Covid stuff? 

Coronavirus

When the pandemic first kicked off, the world went a little bit crazy stockpiling… the predominant of which seemed to be toilet paper. To me this made little sense. But I understand the theory behind it – the need to be able to control some aspect of something that feels out of your control. 

Now two years on, despite Covid still lurking, we have calmed a little. Which is a good thing. But… what happened to all your stuff? Did you use it up… or is it still sitting in a spare room or at the back of the pantry, gathering dust or going off? In one way toilet paper is not the worst contender – it doesn’t have a use by. But what about the rest? What about the yeast? Did all those people who decided, on a sudden whim, that they would buy yeast because they were going to bake their own bread… did they do it… or did they do it once and the rest went to waste?  

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Dark days

fog bubble

There’s been some dark days over the last few months. There’s been a few more tears than usual, a few more outbursts of Life’s not fair and why me? And I know that there are many people out there worse off than me, as I bask in the privileged position of having a steady job, living in my own house and enjoying Friday night date nights. 

But it’s like two years of Covid just came and bit me in the ass. I recently gave some very serious thought to trying to make it back to Oz. Why not skip over there, I thought, despite everything going on, because it is possible. Of course, for it really to be possible, a lot of aspects of my life had to line up perfectly. And when they didn’t, my world kind of crashed down.

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The world was always huge, but the pandemic has intensified the distance

Australia beach sunset

There are thousands of people all over the world who haven’t been able to get home and see loved ones during the pandemic. They’ve missed births, deaths, weddings, divorces and everything in between. It’s heartbreaking. But what it does demonstrate, is that even though we’ve all gotten used to the fact that the world does not seem so big, it’s still a bloody big world. I’m sad that I haven’t seen my friends and family back home for two years. But the thing is, this is kind of what I signed up for.

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That damn pandemic – it’s still going on

Egypt Pyramids

The pandemic has taken plenty away from me: general socialisation, the chance to see friends and family back home, the opportunity to travel, and so on. But I count myself lucky, because I’m surviving ok – I’m pretty happy in my bubble, I’ve been able to work without the hassle of the commute, and I’m in the wrong age group to constantly need to go out on the town.

But I can’t help thinking how it might have been, in another place, in another time.

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Hang on… I’ve kind of forgotten about Covid

Summer in Italy

In the last two weeks in Austria we fell suddenly into autumn. Late summer was amazing and it almost feels like we’ve skipped autumn and gone straight to winter. Morning temperatures are very fresh and there’s snow on the nearby mountains. I had quite a bit of time off over the summer which was fantastic and now it’s time to knuckle down again – put the garden to bed, crank up the heater, get out the boots and coats and so on.

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Oz international borders opening… really?

On the beach in Safety beach, Australia

The world is abuzz with the news that it’s actually going to happen… Australia is finally talking about opening its international borders. I’ve been hearing murmurings for a while, but when it hit globally the other day, a number of people got in touch to spread the love. It even made it to Austrian news, so you know it’s big.

Except I can’t help but feel a little bit cynical about the whole thing.

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Coming out of Covid

Eating out after covid

Many countries in the last months have been dealing with the rocky ride of transitioning out of hard lockdown into something a bit more normal. In Austria, the official date was May 19th. And yes, I took the afternoon off work to go to the pool… and yes, it was freezing but I went anyway.

With the opening of the restaurants and so on, they introduced the 3G rule. That is… Getestet, Geimpft oder Gesund. Basically if you want to eat at a restaurant, have a haircut, visit a pool or lake etc. you have to be able prove that you have either a valid negative Covid test, have been vaccinated (3+ weeks) or have recovered from Covid (in the last 6 months).

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Covid goes on… it’s not so bad… is it?

Masks at the pool - covid

With the news of Victoria’s flash seven day hard lockdown last week, I’m reminded again what a yoyo of an experience this whole thing has really been. On one side I’m in Europe where measures against Covid were relatively mild… and I say relatively because the flip side of that coin was Australia where life in my home state basically stood still for months on end. At first I was thankful I was in Europe, where we were coming into summer and were safe – this thing would be over soon. It was lucky I wasn’t stuck in Australia in a hard-core lockdown. That would be awful. But then it flipped again. Europe hit the cooler months and Covid raged… while in Australia it was back to business as usual.

And there’s these words I keep hearing again and again… it’s not so bad…

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A confession… I’m a hankie lover

handkerchiefs

I’m not even sure if everyone knows what a hankie is these days… let alone uses them. Of course, what I’m talking about is the humble handkerchief. You know that thing a handsome man presents when a woman becomes upset – a clean, ironed, folded handkerchief – even allowing her to take it home with her. It’s in the movies, so it must have happened in real life. I’m sure it was a ploy back in the days to get a piece of a beau’s belongings. Or to make an excuse to see someone again. And it would have worked great for me, since I’m a bit of a crier.

Still, hankies have gone out of favour – they’re old fashioned and they’re disgusting – tissues are far easier to contend with. Still, in a time of banning the straw and plastic bag, I think there’s a good case for bringing back the good ol’ hankie.

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