Friday, June 26, 2009

Worlds collide

Every so often, something happens to make me remember that the world isn’t quite as big a place as it sometimes seems when I contemplate the three-day odyssey involved in getting from, say, Canberra to Boston. Or vice versa.

I’m not talking about the juggernaut of corporate globalization, where you can find the same fast food and sports and children’s entertainment icons wherever you go, to the point where you start to wonder why you bothered to travel in the first place. I’m talking about little, quirky, personal things—like seeing the same 1984 Toyota Camry hatchback that was my first car 16 years ago: it and its Boston counterparts long since devoured by harsh winters and road-salt rust, but still going strong in Canberra’s relatively mild climate—that make me feel, for a full second or three, as if I’ve been thrust through a hole in the space/time continuum and I’m not exactly sure where I am. You know that feeling you get when you wake up in a strange place? Like that, only when fully awake. College sweatshirts; secondhand books; the WGBH logo at the end of a program on Australian TV; sometimes even a particular quality of light or air is enough to bring about this mental vertigo, part happy recognition, part homesickness. It used to happen in England, too, but the greater sense of disorientation in Australia (the distance, the reverse-seasons thing) has exacerbated it.

It happened today when DP walked in after work and dropped a Hershey bar with almonds on my desk. There are quite a few types of American candy readily available in Australia, manufactured specifically for the Australian market (usually in China), but Hershey’s isn’t among them. There’s a small grocery store in town that has a selection of stuff imported from the US; DP passes it on his walk to work, and stops in when he or Miss B is craving Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He spotted this, remembered it was my one of my favorites, and bought me one.

Where am I again? And what month is it, anyway?

(photos: album cover, Getting Friendly with Music, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra: exhibition of obscure album covers, Canberra Museum, June 2009; The Office (US) inspired graffiti, electrical box, Canberra neighborhood; the iconic Converse All-Star logo, Canberra shoe store; Hershey bar with almonds at the end of its long journey from Hershey, PA, USA)


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