THIS TERRIBLE ABSENT BURDEN
Deborah Biancotti, guest blogging
What is this 'Australian'? I have never been sure.
On a sleepy morning bus ride I tried to work it out. There was a boy with sensitive eyes and a girl with sensitive skin. She was so pale, too, so flesh-delicate with such long brown messy hair. A school of grey suit sharks like blank robots whose On switches weren't On yet. A man with a worn face and an Italian accent and a phone gelling his face to his palm, fingers tangled in his own curls. A pair of girls (Japanese, I think), black-haired boys with their backs to me. An old, old woman I suspected to be Chinese. Another woman with faded red hair and blush in squares across her cheeks, so deep and thick it looked like sunburn. Permanent Damage Rose, I called it in my head. I realised I live in a world where I am the foreigner.
Further, I realised that's what I like. The comfortable sense of being a stranger in my own land. My own skin. The daily self-consciousness. A walk down the street becomes an exercise in negotiating a culture only marginally familiar. It pounds on your ear drums. It wakes you up.
Artists talk about the light in Australia, how fierce it is, how hard, how it comes crashing down and turns the red dirt milk white at times. What they don’t mention is how that light beats you around on its way down. A caffeine eye wash. Makes everything look a little delectably wrong.
This is not my home.
That's the most powerfully recognisable thing about this place.
(Deborah Biancotti is a Sydney-Australia-based writer. She has a cat called Monkey, mainly because she doesn't much like cats but finds monkies hilarious. Especially when they're forced to wear waistcoats and ride those little bikes -- two pastimes her own Monkey refuses to indulge in without resort to predictably inhumane treatment. Deborah's online homes are at http://deborahbiancotti.net/ & http://www.livejournal.com/users/deborahb/.)