My stock answer is "I can always go back", which is of course true. I know this will disappoint many of you out there on the eBays (hi Mum!), but I am not in the US because I was framed for a crime I did not commit. If I so desire I can up stakes at any time to head back to Oz.
Some people ask if I ever get homesick. The answer is, if I am being truthful, "extremely rarely". I have moved around so much, and so regularly, that I tend not to dwell on where I used to be, but just on where I am. Maybe it's just a self-defense mechanism. When I was a kid we used to spend an average of two years in one place. My Dad was a teacher, and the way to get ahead in the Western Australian Education system was to nominate for some school way-the-fuck-out-there. Essentially you were bribed with a promotion to even take a position in a place that no one sane would choose to go. So, we'd head out to some country town for two years, then spend the next two years back near Civilisation, if you use the term "Civilisation" loosely. Mind you, anything looks like a bustling city when the last "town" you lived in was technically comprised of the following: four wheat silos, a teacher's house, and a schoolhouse for 15 kids (not a joke: some time after we left the school shut down, and the town was wiped off the map - you can't have a town which is only made up of four wheat silos, apparently).
These trends continued into my secondary education. I was accepted into a school which was a 90 minute commute from where we were currently living ("Civilisation") which was a pain... but it was a good school. After my first year there my Dad accepted another position which was way-the-fuck-out-there... so I ended up spending the next year living with friends of the family so I could attend the same school. Naturally I managed to get myself in even more trouble than normal, and after that year I moved up to rejoin my family in the latest and greatest country town. This turned out only to be a six month stretch, as my Dad was accepted into a phD program in Edmonton Alberta, Canada, so we all set off on another journey. Not so much a crappy little country town as a North American city with a Super-Sized helping of snow.
(Amusing sidenote: we got to Edmonton in late June. The third day or so we were there it got close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We were thinking, "Oh, this is OK. Pleasant". It turns out that it was the second hottest day on record - a day that would pass for "warm" in Spring where we just came from. I think that's when Mum officially wondered if she'd agreed to do something extremely painful.")
Those two years were a lot of fun, but after that it was back to "Civilisation", where I spent the very end of year 11 and my final year of High School at a dodgy institution. I think we had 75 in our graduating class, of which 5 of us went on to Tertiary Institutions. As far as I know I am the only one to receive a degree.
After High School I moved to the city to attend University. Four years of that, then one year working in Canberra (the capital of Australia, and an extremely boring place to live). Just over three years in Sydney, and so far I have three and a half here in Washington DC.
I've lived in cities in three different countries. I've lived a five minute walk from a secluded waving beach. I've lived on a farm, and I've lived on a street frequented by pimps, pushers, and prostitutes. I've lived in a place where you needed to drive for 45 minutes to be able to buy a carton of milk, and I've lived walking distance from the White House.
Every place is different, and every place has at least one thing that's both memorable and unique. Which is why I always giggle when someone asks me if I get homesick - it sort of seems strange to think in those terms. Where is home? I've been living here for almost the longest time I've lived in one place for an unbroken chunk of time. Isn't this home now?
Except here's the thing. Pauly's posts are making me homesick.