I've been back from my holiday for a week now. Colleagues have enquired about my Christmas, commented on my relaxed face/glowing tan and shared their own festive family stories. I am starting to sleep through more than 3 hours at a time and feel hungry when I should so am hoping I'm through the worst of the jetlag. And I'm settling back into my cosy routine at Gidday HQ.
After a long week at work, I curled up on the comfy couch on Friday night to watch an old movie favourite, Love Actually. I love the opening scene: the Arrivals Hall at Heathrow crammed with expectant faces and open arms, a testament the narrator says, to the fact love really is all around. And it took me back to my own Arrivals Hall moment just two weeks earlier, walking through the doors to my own sea of expectant faces and finally into the open arms of my loved ones.
As a frequent traveller, I see a lot of Arrivals Halls but there is nothing like searching out the faces that I love in the throng, that moment when I first catch sight of them, when my heart leaps, my step quickens and my travel-weary face beams. And this search was made all the more poignant by an unexpected voice to my right as I headed towards Mum's smiling face, a soft 'hello chicky' which made me swing around with delight and in just two steps, enfold my Lil Chicky in my arms. And yes, there were tears of joy and love and relief that the long wait to see each other was over.
The 12 days in Melbourne flew by. Joined by my itinerant old man and stepmum, there were family days out - like a visit to see the Sand Sculpting and a day trip to Williamstown - and chilling out time with Mum and Lil Chicky - massages, shopping, mani-pedis and many a soy latte. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of old friends (old in the sense that it had been 25 years since we'd been at school together) where conversation flowed between like and open minds as the years between the words simply disappeared. I remember thinking how funny it was that people don't change. Not really anyway.
So I drank in the magic and nostalgia of Marvellous Melbourne: the people, the food, the weather, the relaxed and cosmopolitan vibe of the city I used to call home. And on a glorious sunny Sunday morning, whilst sipping yet another soy latte, feeling the warmth on my shoulders and the colourful energy of the crowds at Southgate, my heart was assailed by the most overwhelming wave of homesickness. For London. Its damp grittiness, its eclectic colour, its commuting-friendly infrastructure, its mix of cultures. And for my very own Gidday HQ with its cosy warmth, comfy couch and familiar bed. And I felt my divided heart tear - just like last time I visited. And the time before that, and the time before that.
I'm back in Fab Finchley now with my first working week back behind me. All of the washing has been done, the fridge is full and there's a vase of fresh flowers - purple and white tulips - sitting prettily on the table in the kitchen. Workday routines and weekend rituals are settling in again. And here I am, curled up on the comfy couch on a chilly Sunday night tap-tap-tapping away. The memories are wonderful and will help to sustain me between hugs and lattes.
But there is indeed no place like home.