Window seat

I am not a window seat kind of a girl.

I say this metaphorically, and literally.

In life, I do not like to sit by the window and watch. I like to get out there in it, and invariably I end up a bit mucky for my efforts. But this is my preference. I actually feel for the ‘watchers’, those people who say stuff like, “I wish I could do that” or “If only I had [insert attribute or asset here], I would be happy”. I much prefer being an active participant in life, and sometimes I get injured or have a set back, but I often feel great joy.

I am not a window seat kind of a girl on a plane either. I prefer the aisle – the aisle affords me freedom.

Two days ago, I flew from east to west to visit my family and friends. Still at the terminal, I sat in my aisle seat patiently waiting for those who would be seated next to me. They didn’t come. As the plane pulled back, I realised I had three airline seats to myself, a rare pleasure.

I stayed in the aisle seat for about as long as it took for the young family across the aisle to make more noise than young families should in a confined space. I moved to the window seat, and stretched my legs across the other two. I had appropriated 2 pillows from the overhead locker above my head, so I was as comfortable as a person can be in coach.

My ‘special meal’ came 30 minutes before the meal service started, and I watched a film I had wanted to see for some time. Does airline travel get any better than this? (Well, yes, if you’re Ben who gets upgraded every time he flies, just for showing up.)

I even had a nap. For forty-five minutes!

When we started to make our descent, I lifted the window shade I had lowered for my movie viewing. The sun streamed in, as although it would be raining on landing, we were above the cloud line. We descended through the clouds and I watched as the earth emerged through the wisps of white.

I rarely see this type of view, because I almost always sit on the aisle.

The topography changed several times in as many minutes. It was beautiful, and the best part of a really good flight.

I felt a twinge, because I knew how many times I had missed this exact feeling.

I took shot after shot. The earth was drenched, and the colours vibrant – every shade of green. Then there were scars, great gashes of red earth ripped through the bush. Farms presented a patchwork of neat borders and varying shades and textures. Vineyards appeared, with their perfect rows of vines pointing the way to grand houses and wineries. And then the outskirts of Perth itself, where trees pepper an urban landscape in dark green tufts.


earthen scar



It is my home.

I love Sydney, which is why I have lived there nearly eight years. I love other places around the world, and I am sure I will love living in Seattle next year. Western Australia, however, is home. I will always come back here to see it, and my loved ones who live here.

It is so easy to take the familiar for granted, but on Saturday I got to see my homeland through fresh, somewhat misty eyes. I felt pride mostly, because it truly is incredibly beautiful and I cannot wait to show it off to Ben.

And I had this small, but significant joy all because I took a window seat.

Going Home

This weekend I fly to Perth on the west coast, and will drive 5 hours to the southwest coast to see my dad for his 60th birthday.  I am going ‘home’. 


‘Home’ is a word laden with connotations that make me feel a plethora of emotions.  Coming ‘home’ after a long trip brings mixed emotions – from relief to sadness, and many shades in between.  From necessity in conducting a long-distance relationship, Ben and I have come to know our ‘home’ as ‘wherever we are together’.  Home in the context of my up-coming weekend, is my hometown, and even more than that, it is where my parents are. 


Ironically I have never lived in the house where my dad and step-mum currently live.  They sold up the house that was my home – and home base – for 15 years and moved from Perth to the south coast.  They did this a couple of years ago, and the last time I saw them at that house, in the hills outside of Perth, I drove away in tears.  I had lived there, moved away, lived there again, and then moved away again; it was my home base, my longest permanent address ever.  I still had boxes of stuff there long after I had moved to Sydney.  It wasn’t until my dad called and said, “Darling, come and get your boxes,” that I knew he and Gail were serious about selling up and moving elsewhere.


Now they are building a new home that my clever dad designed, and while they do that, they live in a rental property in the tiny, extremely beautiful, town of Denmark.  This is where I will be heading to this weekend.  But even though I have never lived there, and this is only my third visit to the house in two years, it feels like home.  As I have said before, ‘home truly is where the heart is’. 

I will sit at the breakfast bench in my pyjamas, with messy bed-hair, and as a 38-year-old woman, let my dad squeeze me fresh orange juice.  When he places it before me, I will say, “thank you, Daddy,” as I have done for decades and he will say, “You’re welcome, Darling,” as he has said for just as long.  It is a ritual that is a small, but integral part of the whole.  And in no other context do I drink orange juice; it is just what we do, one of the things that makes their home my home too.


In addition to the trip south, I will spend a fast and furious Friday seeing as many people as I possibly can, all of whom are ‘family’.  Like ‘home’, ‘family’ means so much more than its dictionary definition, as I am fortunate to have long-time friends who are as precious to me as my relatives.  I will be seeing three of these friends tomorrow. 


First will be Thomas, who I met in the first week of university many years ago.  We get to see each other so rarely, but it is always a homecoming when we do.  Tom has been my partner in crime so many times, that just a single word, or a look can set us both off on a nostalgic fit of giggles.  He understands my love-hate affair with my hair, as he has his own, he is unfailingly supportive and compassionate, and our mutual love of the dance floor has made us an impromptu floorshow dozens of times.  Even though we can only squeeze in a quick coffee tomorrow morning, it is worth it just to see him.


I will then hit the road and arrive at Jules’ house for lunch, and Stace will join us.  Both women have known me since I was 14; both are my sisters.  They have known me through bad 80s hair, and bad 90s hair, come to think of it.  In those 24 years we’ve all gained weight, lost weight, gained it back and lost it again.  We have seen each other through every relationship we have had, including three marriages (not mine), and the heartbreak we all endured in our 20s.  We have seen each other at our best and our very worst.  There are three children (again, not mine), so I have happily adopted the moniker ‘Aunty Sand’, and I am an awesome aunty.  Tomorrow I meet my newest niece, who arrived only a few months ago.


Tonight I will be collected from the airport by my dad’s sister and her husband, and we will catch up over a bottle of red, as is our ritual.  I am, at once, a friend and their ‘young’ niece.   I have travelled and worked and lived enough to have wonderful, worldly, lively conversations with them, but at the end of the evening when they hug and kiss me goodnight, I am their ‘Sand’, who still loves to be showered with affection and called ‘Darling’ before she climbs into bed.


Going home to Perth is often these whirlwind trips where I cram in as much love and laughter and, as many ‘catch ups’ as I can, but I do not come back to Sydney depleted.  Just the opposite.  Even though I love to go far and wide, a trip ‘home’ to Perth feels like an oasis.  With ease I strip off the roles I play in my working and grown up world, and just be me, the woman-child.  A dose of family and old friends, a visit home, where I am just ‘Sand’, becomes a sliver of heaven in my busy world.


I will not get to see everyone this trip over west; it is too short.  I will miss my mum and her sisters and their families.  I will miss many old friends.  I will not be able to take Ben with me this time, maybe the next. 


But these are not thoughts to dwell on, as I am looking forward to my glass of orange juice, and to wishing my dad a very happy 60th birthday.


Happy Birthday Daddy.