It was a standard Last Day of Holiday type day. We’d been assaulted and beaten up during thai massages, gobbled up all the unidentifiable street food we passed, refused to wear sunscreen, and were pleasantly suprised when we got out of the cab alive after the 140 kilometer an hour taxi ride to the airport. With only a few bhat left to our names Jot and I stumbled into the bright lights of Bangkok airport at 10.30pm for our 12.05 flight back to Perth. The 6 day extended stop over on the way back from London had come to an end.
Off home I guess. Back to Bus. Or had we just been at home and we’re now headed off again? Where on earth is home these days? To be honest I’ve no idea. But I’ve decided that’s ok.
Being in London for a month was magical. The City was all dressed up in her shiniest lights and it felt like it was all for us. A few times I found myself walking around central London with no purpose, other than to see the next roads festive display, or the windows at Selfridges. I covered miles and miles as I walked along Southbank, around the Tate, over the wobbly bridge, around St Pauls and along Cheapside. I strolled – (a speed a Londoner doesn’t have the luxury of), smiling at strangers, not wanting to go down to the tube as I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the fairy lights and christmas decorations.
Being a tourist in London really renewed my love for the City that was my once home and playground. I saw places I’d been to many times before with new appreciation; Borough Market, Brick Lane, Soho, St Christophers Place, the posh bit of London where the National History Museum and Harrods is. When I lived there it seemed like a hectic underground race from one place to the next. But now I was on holiday, I had time to take it in. A true Londoner wouldn’t stand on the Millennium Bridge trying to get a good selfie with the Thames in the background but now I have a phone full of them. (All terrible of course).
But the best thing about London was the people. My people. My squad, my goons, my bff.
I’d seen my family in September in Sydney but I hadn’t seen my friends in 18 months. Every time I go back I worry it won’t be the same. That they’d have changed, that I’d have changed, that we wouldn’t have things in common any more. But as usual I didn’t need to worry. The main change was that they had gotten bigger. Not fatter (of course) but there’s more of them – they’ve multiplied. The girls I used to lay around our Uni house with watching Neighbours twice a day while drinking Lambrini and eating McDonalds have become mothers. The boys I used to get stoned and wrestle with are fathers. At almost every event, be it a weekend away or Christmas nibbles, there was a toddler underfoot or a baby sleeping in the next room, usually dressed as an elf or a christmas pudding. “Where’s my mummy?” A three year old in a puffa jacket similar to my own, asked me. I stared at him wondering who on earth he could be talking about as all my friends are barely in their mid thirties and therefore are far too young to be called “mummy”.
Starting any sentence with ‘as a parent’, was quickly vetoed but conversation often revolved around naps and poos. Drinks were cut short as sleep routines had to be stuck to. But that’s ok, it was lovely, all the babies and kids were awesome and their parents all the happier for having their little Christmas elf in the world.
Having never really spent much time with babies I’m now a champion nappy changer and I’ve worked out how high you can throw kids before their parents give you that look. (It really varies). Thankfully we’ve all moved on from Lambrini and of course getting stoned. (It was far too cold to go outside…)
Chez Galea we had our own little reindeer to dress up. At 5 months and completely oblivious to her first Christmas, my neice Emily made my holiday perfect. I found myself jumping out of bed before 7, before even picking up my phone, to see if she was up and to see if I could take charge. Emo and I spent many happy, dark mornings watching The Sinner giving her mum and dad their first lay-ins in 6 months. She’s really in to her gritty crime thrillers fortunately although I did cover her eyes for some of the really weird bits. Often my mum would be up too and we’d battle over who got to look after the baby. At one point I was chief babysitter for a whole three hours which is the first time in my life someone has entrusted their child to me. I took Emily around the house and showed her all the pictures of her mum as a child. The worse my sisters hair was the more Emily laughed. We dont call her mum Aff for no reason after all. (Note to self to do that again when she’s older).
So at the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, Christmas was a magical time. I decorated the tree with my mum wearing my Christmas jumper. I baked cakes with sister and G’ma. I ran on Christmas morning telling horrifed looking dog walkers ‘Merry Christmas’ as I flew past them. I had snowball fights with three year olds (great hangover cure). I caught up with my goons, with friends from school, with people I rarely message but can pick up right where we left off years ago. I had a proper family Christmas!
If before we left Perth I’d written down exactly how I wanted it to be I’d pretty much have been predicting the future. So if home is where the heart is then I’m privileged to call London mine.