Today was one of those Torino autumn days that felt like a perfect Perth winter day — blue skies, chilly in the morning, but warm enough under the midday sun eat lunch outside and not need a jacket. In Perth, I’d have gone for a walk on the beach on a day like today, and come away with wild hair from the buffeting wind. Here, I caught glimpses of the sun setting behind the mountains as I walked through the meadows in Parco Colletta, and got grass seeds stuck in my socks.
It occurs to me I haven’t been in Perth in winter for 5 years now, and on days like today that feels like a long time. I miss Perth. Not just the people, who I miss frequently (and do a terrible job of keeping in touch with!) But the geography, too. The open space and wide empty streets, single-storey houses on quater-acre blocks. The way the city is flat, until you notice the undulations of the sand dunes it’s built upon. The route from my old place to work, cycling through bushland just a couple of kilometres from the city centre. The Swan River, or rather, just “the river”, as if you needed any other rivers in the world.
And other days I miss Glasgow, and other days I miss the tiny wheat and sheep farming town I lived in as a kid, and other days I miss the months I spent in Florence. Probably one day I’ll be living somewhere else again, and missing Torino.
We were talking over dinner the other night about the idea of being “from” somewhere. Like, can you be from somewhere if your parents weren’t from there? In Australia, yes, but that’s not universal. And I was thinking afterwards about how I’d never thought about being from somewhere until I lived in Glasgow for a year and realized that Britishness was something I recognized if I squinted and held my head at a funny angle, but it wasn’t my culture, and the city was lively and Scotland was beautiful, but it wasn’t my place.
Because my culture is Australian, and my place is Perth.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Zoe, from Australia.”
“Oh? Where in Australia are you from?”
“Perth, it’s on the west coast.”
(That last statement delivered almost as a question, because I will never completely lose my Australian habit of upward inflection.)