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Saturday, July 3, 2010

There's no place like [insert city here]

Is it true that absence makes the heart grow fonder? I've spent most of the last month in Adelaide - this would normally be a cause for despair, but since it was for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, one of the most fun and exciting events of the year, it was actually pretty wonderful (not to mention that Leo Campbell had just made his debut in the world and I got to hang out with him a lot). But even though I had an amazing time in Adelaide, it was still thrilling to come back to Sydney. My concepts of 'home' are very confused - I was born in London, grew up in Bedfordshire, spent some very resonant years at university in Norwich, and then created my adult life back in London again. But for the last two years I have lived exclusively in Sydney, and it's unquestionably where my life is at the moment. I have been amazingly lucky to make so many wonderful and exciting friends, and to somehow end up doing an amazing job with people I love. I have the enviable experience of being conscious every day of how much I love living in the city I live in, and doing what I am doing for a living (something I doubt I would do so much if I had lived here all my life, or always done the same job).

I know that a lot of people attach sentimentality or emotion to things, places or people that have been in their lives for a long time (childhood homes, schoolfriends, etc), but for some reason I have always got a thrill from the new. I have a habit of making new friends that jump straight into the centre of my life - I have an instinct for people that I will get along with particularly well, and am not shy about making them into close friends immediately. This is not to say that I don't have some very close old friends - the new ones are added to the old, they don't replace them. And it's the same with Sydney - I wouldn't argue that it's 'home' to me in any sense except the literally physical, but it's the only place I want to be right now - even though I do miss my friends in London (and around the world) terribly. Becoming a Sydneysider, with all that that has entailed, has not made me any less of a Londoner, and does not mean that I value my life in the UK any less. When I lived in London, I was something of a 'London snob', and hated having to leave, even for the weekend. Even getting to the stage of moving over here for a year (as I initally did) took a great deal of maturing, and opening my eyes to the wider world. I got to an age where I realised that if I left town for a week, or a month, or a year, or longer, my friends wouldn't forget about me, I wouldn't have closed the door on my career, and I wouldn't have lost touch with British culture. The fact that I am now in Sydney indefinitely also doesn't make me feel any further away from the UK (figuratively) - not least because there are so many Brits in Sydney, and I'm friends with most of them! (Skype also helps).

I think some of my friends in London found it hard when I left, because they understandably thought that the fact that I wanted to make a new life somewhere else (even for a while) meant that I must be in some way unhappy or unfulfilled in the life I had there, with them. That's not even remotely true. I can't explain what it was that made me come to Sydney, or stay here - but it's no reflection on London, which I still love - and certainly no reflection on my London friends, who are still some of the most extraordinary, and important, people in my life.

I have no idea when I will return to the UK, or even if I'll end up living in another country at some point. But where some people might be worried by this uncertainty, I thrive on it. To pull out a cliché - the world is my oyster. How lucky can you get?

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