I don’t write shopping lists the way I once did.
Some where along the way bell peppers replaced capsicum and courgettes for zucchini, Cilantro for Coriander, and although eggplant and aubergine are used interchangeably and snow peas will forever be snow peas and not mange tout. Do I say ‘one peter’ or ‘first peter’ – i don’t remember anymore. Gas and petrol, sidewalk, footpath, pavement, boot, trunk, trash, garbage, school, college, uni, grades, marks….cell, mobile…these words and what they signify have come to be jumbled in my head – I mirror the people I’m with, being more concerned about not causing them dissonance than hanging on to my own dialect anymore. Especially not in English. I can spell and use the appropriately different grammar in British, American and Australian English. Don’t get me started on my french or german, however (my accent in the latter particularly isn’t great) – there I just hold for dear life and hope I don’t look or sound like a fool.
It isn’t just the the language of the quotidian that has changed for me, it s the realisation that I don’t instinctively know which way to look when I cross the street…so i look both ways, all the time. Even still, sometimes I second guess myself and hope I’ve looked the right way.
When I wake up in the morning it is late in the evening UK time and i hurriedly answer emails from colleagues so that projects can continue. The US is further behind, but this feeling of being ahead of the world is a slightly unsettling one – as if i’m waiting for them all to catch up to the day i’ve been enjoying – though slumbering – for a good 6 hours or more.
But it is probably the sounds of this land and this city that have struck me the most.
The sounds of the birds raucously heralding the day and bidding it farewell make it rare that there is silence. Silence that seemed to envelope the cottage-by-the-sea is almost a distant memory. The early hours of the morning, before the birds are awake or the trucks rumble on the nearby highway is a precious time.
The Australian accent has been ring in my ears and echoing in my the hollow chambers of my brain for the last ten days.
It is almost overwhelming…..and I have one.
Well, I have one of sorts.
As I’m asked, queried, if I’m English, Scottish, or still more commonly American I wonder when did my accent become this mangled.
Or is it?
Those close to me assure me that I still sound the same to them. But I think they’ve long stopped noticing I even have an accent.
Or have just grown used to my mangled mess of one.
To be honest, I can’t hear it.
But when I hear ‘this arvo’ or ‘mates’ or ‘sunnies’ or ‘breaky’ or a group of aussie men, blokes all, talking about the ‘footy being on later’ it slams against me. It is like a clanging between my ears.
The notion of being not being an expat and the transition of being an Australia who does in fact live in Australia is going to take some time, helped I hope by the traveling will will take me from the shores only to return me unceremoniously back again. Observing your own culture as an outsider is a rare bird indeed.
It feels unusual, but comforting to live in a place where my sister and I are noticed as sisters, that we look alike enough for people to notice this before they see us together, or even to confuse us for one another. It’s been half a decade since this kind of thing was even possible. So too, at the race registration the other day, when I noticed that another runner had the same surname. I was the only person in the last two cities I lived in – totalling close to 350,000 people – to have my last name. Small, though it is, and as distantly related as I might be to that other runner, it reminds me that this where i’m from.
In the meantime this Baylor bear is going to relish being able to work for home today so that I won’t bother anyone when I loudly cheer for the Baylor Lady Bears in their NCAA national championship game against Notre Dame. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, no matter what country I was in. At least being in Australia I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to watch it!
Thought it feels like alot of my posts lately have been life unmasked! I warned you it might get a little Dear diary around here for a while, this post is actually officially my sixth Life Unmasked post for 2012. In addition to my fifth, Before the birds are awake, my fourth, Blessed are the encouragers, the third, Sleepless in the PhD wilderness, and second for this year, A naked theologian, you may find my last life:unmasked post for 2011, A journeywoman, and my first for 2012, I’m an inbetweener of interest. All my 2011 Life unmasked can be found on this handy list. You can thank Joy of Joy’s Journey for pushing me to get involved in this weekly foray into ‘writing naked.’