In the September school holidays I drove over 4,500kms to visit my friends in the bush. From Mount Isa to Hughenden and everywhere in between, I spent nearly 2 weeks soaking up the red dirt. 50 hours in the car certainly allows for a lot of thinking time. As I watched the landscape change from mulga to flat vast plains of Mitchell grass, to the undulating red hills of the far north-west, my heart yearned for the life I once lived, and the memories connected to this isolated land.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being home on the Gold Coast. I love impromptu week-night dinners with my family, I find passion and purpose in my job and I live amongst a wonderful community, but if this trip has reminded me of anything, it’s that western Queensland has my heart. I enjoy being where I am, but I truly miss where I came from.
They say that the red dust gets under your skin. That is finds its way into your blood stream and pumps through to your heart. No statement has ever rung so true. I can practically feel the rich red dirt pumping through my veins. When I’m in the city, it settles a bit, but I think part of that is because I have no other choice but to force it deep down and keep it at bay. But one whiff of a road train loaded with cattle or the feeling of the dry heat and my heart lurches into a deep stupor of nostalgia.
When I arrived at the cattle station I worked at last year, it felt like I’d arrived home. This overwhelming calm came over me. I don’t know whether it was a squeak of the house gate, or the sound of the sprinklers that allowed my soul to rest, or whether it was the high-pitched squeals of ‘Miss Hannah!’, a rumble of foot-steps and 3 of my favourite little people launching themselves into my arms, but whatever it was, it just sat right.
That evening I sent my mum a text and all it said was ‘It feels like I’m home.’. She responded with ‘I thought you might say that.’. She gets it, she understands, and she knows that just because the Gold Coast is her home, it might not be mine. ‘Home’ isn’t always where you’ve lived the longest, or the place where your family are, sometimes ‘home’ is far more layered than that.
Home is a combination of smells and sounds. Home is a tapestry of memories that have shaped who you are. Home is laughter and tears. It is hearty meals and where your soul finds rest. Home is a place that is comfortable but is also the birthplace of your wildest dreams. Home is where roots run deep and home is a safe place in the storm.
Search for your home. Search for a place where your heart feels at ease. Search for a place that encourages laughter and joy. Search far and wide, and promise me this, don’t stop until your heart finally says ‘I’m home’.