Every December, I make my way back home. Back to warm sand, back to my sunkissed skin, back to Santas on surfboards – back to Australia. My hair becomes matted – grains of sand entangled within streaks of blonde. The sea comes hand in hand with the sting of bluebottles and a crisp saltiness. The air is calmer down here, as are the people. We aren’t uptight people and neither is our language. “How you going?” becomes a snarled and twangy “howyagarn” and an afternoon at the beach becomes a ‘lazy arvo’. I come home and suddenly wearing shoes down the street doesn’t seem necessary. Neither does a shirt, I’m trying to show off my dry, peeling tan anyway.
People back here don’t really notice it. But then again, they have nothing to compare it to. I’m comparing this to a country where everything is moving all the time, people are constantly working and the streets never sleep. Shanghai buzzes 24 hours a day. Sydney? We hardly move. Coffee shops close at 2 so we can all go down for a surf, feel the sand between our toes and not give a shit about anything else.
But the beach is the calmest it gets. On a cloudy evening, the sun is still up but the temperature drops, you get complete serenity. The waves crash up against the rocks and rock pools overflow. The most natural blues and greens you’ve ever seen. All the while the salt stings your feet, but it’s refreshing. Better than the sting of pollution and gasoline fumes.