Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When Travel is Just Like Coming Home Again

Victoria Square Fountain, Adelaide
~ For most of my life I have lived in Adelaide, Australia, and although I like to say that Adelaide is a nice place to come home to, the more I travel the more I am beginning to feel that I have roots in other countries and cities around the world.

My parents were Greeks who immigrated to Australia just prior to the Second World War, and of course I have visited the island my parents came from – Ikaria – on multiple occasions. 

Two of my sisters have returned to live on the island, and both have children and grandchildren growing up there. I consider Ikaria to be my first home away from home, having visited several times during the 1970s, and again in 2008 and 2010.

South Street Seaport, NYC.
New York City Dreaming
When I landed at New York City’s JFK airport following an exhausting flight from Australia, my return to that city in 2012 for my third visit in six years, also seemed like coming home.

When I boarded the A-train for the Washington Heights apartment (and two cats), I would be ‘house’ sitting for the second time, it was a great feeling, and it was all I could do to suppress an open smile. Let me tell you though, smiling openly on a 6:00am A-train full of sleepy New Yorkers heading into Manhattan for the start of the working day is probably not a good idea.

I first went to New York in 2008, and have returned every two years since. There more I go, the more I love it, and the more that city also begins to feel like home. I hope to return to the Big Apple again in 2014, which should pretty much cement its place in my mind as my second home away from home.

Federation Square, Melbourne
Wherever I Lay My Hat
I have been house sitting for friends in Melbourne for the past four years, and every time I return to that city, it too feels like coming home. Then there are my visits to an American cousin in Tucson, Arizona in 2010 and again in 2012. If I get a chance to visit again – and I certainly hope to – I know that Tucson will also join the list of cities that have become my surrogate homes as I continue to travel and occasionally retrace my steps around the world.

What all these locations have in common is the familiarity I have developed with them: knowing how to find my way around what were once strange cities and landscapes; knowing where the nearest supermarket, ATM, subway station or bus stop is to my home away from home; and knowing enough about a location to be able to offer advice and information to people who are themselves looking for assistance. Then there is the joy I get from returning to favorite locations within each of these cities: Federation Square and the crowded alleys of Melbourne; the South Street Seaport and Bryant Park in New York City; the tiny villages and summer festivals of Ikaria; and the giant Saguaro cactus plants that dot the dry desert landscape around Tucson, Arizona. But most of all, it is great to be able to continue my explorations in each of these locations to broaden my knowledge and understanding about each city, and the people who live and work there.

Adelaide is a great place to return home to, but I can’t wait to again revisit my various homes away from home, and add other countries and cities to those already mentioned here.

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