Special Guest Appearance

It’s been a jam-packed week in Perth (though sadly, without any jam. Though I did have vegemite.) I kept a low profile because I was mostly here to spend time with my grandmother and so wasn’t working on any fixed schedule. Despite this, I did manage to catch up with some family and friends while here, which was lovely.

Most of my time was spent at Fremantle Hospital with my grandmother. We chatted, we played cards, we went for walks around the ward. Visits ranged from 45 minutes to about 6 hours on one day. We caught up on lots of things, chatted almost non-stop. I’m happy to say that she’s looking in good shape and hopefully it won’t be long before she can get out of hospital. The downside is that I’ll probably have gone back to Canada by then. Still, it’s only about 40 days since we return and if how she was during my visit is any indication, I don’t think I have to worry that she won’t around when we get back.

I went into work for a couple of days, which was a very weird experience. There is a bunch of new people, and a lot of old faces. I ran through my story about ten times and got a very warm welcome. I even ran into Tricia the Elephant as she was out on her walk – and I got to feed her some fruit. Her squishy tongue is so familiar. And then it was straight into work and going through the things that had gone on hold over the past week due to my unexpected travel.

It’s now confirmed that I’m returning four days a week, with a reduced workload, which I’m looking forward to. Three-day weekends rock! I’ll be focusing on interpretation and publications, and there’s already a bunch of work to be getting on with. Being in the zoo for a couple of days really helped me get an idea of the space for some of the projects I’m currently working on, and was able to progress a few other things that aren’t as easy to do through email alone.

Other than work and visiting my nonna, I’ve visited a few friends and family as they’ve been opportunistically available. My cousin, Fiamma, on one night, Kevin and Dion on another, and David for one more. All easily arranged based on who popped up on Facebook at the time. It was nice to be spending time with them again, but also made me feel sad for the Canadian friends we’re leaving behind. Can’t everyone just be in one place?

Being in Perth hasn’t been the horrifying shock I thought it would be, although I think I’ve been fooling myself into believing this is only the dress rehearsal and not the real experience. Slipping back into Perth life (albeit for only a week) has been a little too easy. Prices of food in restaurants and cafes is pretty high ($22 for a salad at Mrs S was a bit much, as was $60 for dinner for two that didn’t include wine) though groceries didn’t seem as bad.

I’m thoroughly sick of driving in a car.

Donna’s schedule worked out that I’ve been able to borrow her car for most of my time here and I’ve been driving all over the city, hours spent behind the wheel (on the left hand side of the road). It feels no different to before but damn is it boring driving around here. I’d take the train if it actually took me somewhere handy and arrived in a convenient time. This will be something hard to get used to.

The weather has been nice. In fact I think it’s the same as Toronto, which is about 19–22. That’s just strange. Dad’s house is absolutely freezing though so how we survive without good insulation and double-glazing, I don’t know. The weather is beautiful, the sunsets are loving, it’s deathly quiet in the evening (except when you’re sitting on the corner of Newcastle and Oxford Sts at 10pm eating ice-cream with your mates). I heard frogs in our neighbourhood one evening.

I’d forgotten how strict pubs and clubs are here. Getting into the Court on Saturday night was frustrating as they wouldn’t take a Canadian drivers licence as proof of age. Luckily the manager was outside, who I knew, and he waved me in. Otherwise I would have had to drive home to get my passport and that wasn’t going to happen. The upside is I got in for free and then went and had a dance with Donna. That was fun.

There were a few times during the days here that I’ve been gritting my teeth as I’ve just wanted to be back in Toronto with Glen. Life here is completely different and it’s hard to imagine one while you’re in the other. Friends and family make the difference, though we have them in both countries now, so leaving one set to be welcomed warmly by the other is always bittersweet.

But it is what it is. And we will push on. And what can’t be changed must be endured (until we decide to change it). There are positives to coming back, just as they are negatives, and watching my mental state on my return, ensuring that it looks for the positives, rather than longs for the unattainable, will be a major part of adjusting to this new life. I am looking forward to seeing more of the family and friends we have in Perth when we return…as well as planning travel to see the ones we’ve left behind in Toronto.

Until then though, I’m looking forward to being back in Toronto (not after the long flights though) and eventually getting a hug from Glen (who’s on-call and won’t be home until five hours after I return). We then leave for Paris the next day. See? Two worlds that are completely different.

So I’ll see you on the other side of the planet. PER–SYD–LAX–YYZ, here I come.

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