I never thought I would ever feel homesick for the US, but right now I am. I have not been silent about this, I know, but I feel that it bears repeating because it is so surprising. I have been meeting up with classmates over the last week who are sharing the homesickness with me - it is nice to know I'm not alone.
I think it is mostly because we are on holiday from school, and Brisbane is (as I have pointed out) a pretty quiet city for broke, car-less young non-married folk. A bunch of us come from louder cities that never close down, and we share our new-found appreciation of the busy-ness of our towns We also share how we are trying to cope with the quietness until schools starts back up. Some of us have taken up baking and crocheting. I myself have bought a coloring book and am practicing bike riding on the bike my CT Lawyer got me. I still ache sometimes for the impromptu and last-minute performance or festival NYC offers at almost all moments of life.
While I am currently fighting the homesickness of being down under for a long time, I thought I would motivate myself by noting some of the local things I have come to love here.
- Vegemite: Well, really, I love Ozemite, which is the gluten free version, but I am still shocked that I can honestly see what Aussies enjoy about salt-lick goo. What is it? Basically yeast paste from the dregs of brewing. Delicious sounding, I know. But if you toast up some bread and spread a lot (a. lot.) of butter on it, and put a pinch of Vegemite on top, it is a tasty toast with a kick.
- Cheese: Alright, I have always loved cheese, but Aussies do cheese really well, guys. Their simple grocery store cheese is scrumptious, and I've discovered Persian Fetta, which is kind of like if soft goat cheese and Greek Feta had a child together. If the world decided I must be vegetarian forever and always, I would be fine with it as long as I can still consume my cheeses.
- EFTPOS: It is probably not a great invention if you lost your credit card or get it stolen, but chips in cards here make shopping much easier, as you simply tap your card on the screen and you're good to go - called EFTPOS. I don't have to sign for things anymore, which really isn't that big of a deal but it can be obnoxious.
- Pawpaw Ointment: Aussies ferment papaya and make it into an ointment that is a less greasy version of Vaseline or A&D gel, and it is awesome. I can put it on almost any kind of discomfort on my skin, and it starts feeling almost immediately better. Even the label states it's for "boils, burns, chafing, cuts, cracked skin, gravel rash, splinters, open wounds, insect bites, and nappy rash." I am not sure I have ever used anything as multi-functional before, and if you know me you probably know how much I love that.
- Quiet Nights: It is nice to come home and know that more often than not, I will be able to fall asleep with only the noises of nature rustling outside of my window. There is something very satisfying about falling asleep not worrying about the downstairs bar releasing the bloodhounds at 2 AM. And there is not even a bar near me, so I am really set on this front.
- Patient Passerby's: While I have been practicing my bike riding, I have really come to appreciate just how patient people here are with me on the road. The cars patiently slow down or stop while I panic and swerve off of the road to avoid impact. And observant pedestrians have walked around me in large arcs onto grassy knolls when I am barreling down park paths (whimpering). I know if I was in NYC practicing, I'd be chewed out by impatient walkers and hit by at least a handful of cars by now, both parked and in motion. I know this because it has happened to me before. Thank you, Brisbane, for having immense patience and compassion for those of us sorry souls who are still learning basic life skills as adults!
- GF Industry: Australia, my CT Lawyer proposed, has a robust gluten free food industry because there is so much wheat in most foods in stores and restaurants. We have posited that it is due to a larger wheat industry comparable to the booming corn industry in the US. Whatever the reason is, though, it means Celiacs like me can get a delicious meat pie for lunch, and lots of decadent chocolate desserts. Well, maybe too many desserts....
- Meat Pies: Also known as pot pies in the US, the Aussies are really big on meat pies. The nice thing that they have mastered pies beyond the American standard chicken pot pie - and really there are very few times over the years I have really wanted a chicken pot pie. But Australian meat pies could be a regular thing for me! Today I had a beef and pale ale (gf) pie at a local bakery, and I would get one again tomorrow if I lived closer.
- No Snow: Winter here is like a crisp fall in New England. I am not complaining.