In two weeks, I will be leaving Melbourne for four weeks at home with Michael in tow. It’s the first time I’ve been home for about a year and a half. I’ve never been away from home for so long, nor do I hope to be in years to come, but the time I’ve been away makes for huge amounts of anticipation. For that moment when I step into the LAX airport and hear American accents all around me, for the first shitty coffee I order (probably at LAX), and for the intense feeling of being truly home when I drive into the Virginia Appalachians.
Planning the trip was sort of a crazed effort. I’d been tossing up whether to try and get back at all this summer, since coming home now means that I won’t be able to come home at Christmas. I love Christmas in Virginia, in the cold. I like being around friends and family in Farmville and intently watching the forecast in the days leading up to the big day for any signs of snow. I also like advent services at my church, where we still stick to the traditional Presbyterian hymnbook and decorate the old church in wreaths that have been used at least since I was a kid. It’s never the same celebrating Christmas away from all that, and I really miss it down here. However, Christmas in Australia is wonderful in its own salads and sunny beach sort of way, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both Christmases I’ve spent down under, too. Plus, I’ve made a habit of getting Michael to visit the states over Christmas, and it’s high time he sees Virginia when things aren’t all dead and gray.
So at the probable expense of missing another Christmas back home, I did decide to visit this summer, and even then the timing has been a little difficult. I had to come after exams were done over here, and also at a time that was convenient for my work. It’s weird being a quasi-real person with vacation days. Since we operate around a monthly reporting schedule at work and I wanted to come home for about 4 weeks, the best way to do visit was to fit the whole trip within a calendar month, which is what I’ve done. This means I’m missing a good friend’s wedding at the end of June and another good friend’s wedding at the beginning of August. There will be no wedding attending for me, but missing important events is something I’ve had to come to terms with since coming to Australia. You can’t make them all (and in my case to date, sometimes you can’t make any). In the end I have a trip that puts me in the states from the 3rd to the 26th of July, thanks to my extra-accommodating job and some half-decent flights with Fiji Air on those particular dates. I’ll be heading straight to Sioux Falls to spend about a week visiting relatives in South Dakota and then I’ll be road-tripping home with Dad and Michael sometime before the 11th. I’ll be home for my birthday on the 19th, which is quite exciting.
I’ve got few things planned for the trip, but I am really excited about the plans that I do have, which include 4th of July celebrations in Lennox, SD, and seeing Nickel Creek, Sun Kil Moon, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in concert. Sort of impossible to plan much more than that, although I plan to start coordinating with friends in earnest next week to see who I can see while I’m home.
After home, it’ll be straight back into my last Public Policy semester at Melbourne. I’m looking forward to it. The program has been mostly quite good, with the occasional wasted class (such as the mandatory Introduction to Politics subject or the class where the professor spent all of her teaching time talking about how to write a five-part essay). I’ve just finished a paper about contracting out prison management to private prisons that was an average piece of writing but involved some really interesting research. Actually I might blog about that a little bit next week if I can shake off the post-semester laziness that is already seeping into my bones.
After I finish my Masters, I’ll probably live in Melbourne for at least another couple years. This is not just because I like the city and Australian hourly wage, but because I quite like my current job and Michael will probably accept a two-year contract in Melbourne to teach high school through an Aussie program called Teach for Australia (very much like Teach for America). Yay! Things are really falling into place here, so I’m trying to keep an open mind about where I live. As long as I can visit Virginia more frequently than once every year and a half, Melbourne’s a pretty wonderful place to call home. We went to the most spectacular beer and food event a few weeks ago during the city’s annual Good Beer Week (how will I ever leave?). It was called Viking Beer vs. Pig and consisted of four courses of three Norwegian beers paired with all kinds of pork (read: 12 beers). Somehow I made it to class the next day in a relatively unharmed state. I’m also getting pretty spoiled by the live music scene. Two recent highlights were finding myself face-to-face with a crowd surfing Matt Berninger at The National’s concert and being directly in front of and inches from a flawless St. Vincent at a concert where we were requested not to take pictures (which I should have done anyway, because now I have an unquenchable desire to tell everyone how close I was).
Ahh Matt. You know I love you.
St. Vincent’s stuff. SO CLOSE.
Tonight is the second State of Origin game in the three-part series. The Origin pits Queensland-born Rugby League players against NSW-born players, and as an honorary Queenslander I feel very strongly about the outcome. Queensland has won the past eight contests. They lost the first game this year, so we really need a win tonight. Go Maroons!!!