I was entranced by the clear bright light, the strange birds and animals, the blue water of the harbor. It was truly like living in a Disney movie. Also the people were friendly and didn't take life to seriously. How can you not love a country where every business closes to watch the running of the Melbourne Cup horse race?
But I never had a chance to settle in properly because I met a man. An Englishman working for Qantas. And I married him, dear reader. But he was on his way to California, so I found myself living in San Francisco instead. I've not regretted coming to the States, but each time I've returned to Australia (to visit my parents who moved there, and later my brother who still lives there) I've wondered whether my destiny was supposed to be there and I blew it.
I started writing this theme because I'm fascinated that there are some places in this world where we feel instantly as if we belong. I've never had much affinity for London. I lived there. I know my way around very well, but it doesn't call to me with a siren song. But Paris--that's another matter. The moment I arrive in Paris I feel as if I should never leave again. I could sit for hours at a sidewalk cafe, soaking up the atmosphere. Or stroll along the Seine, browsing at the bouquinistes stalls. Or the Impressionists at the Musee d"Orsay. I feel alive every minute I'm there. I could easily live in one of those top floor apartments with the balcony. Paris is much in my thoughts recently because I set my upcoming Molly Murphy book, CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, there and had a great excuse to wander all over the city, finding the perfect places for my plot to play out.
So what makes some places feel like home to us while we are untouched by others. Did I live in Paris in a previous life? And what drew me to Australia? Do you think there is really a "right' place for us to live, a destiny, if you will?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: When I was a--oh, I don't know, teenager, in Indianapolis,in the 1960's I always wanted to live in Boston. ALWAYS. I'd never been there, and I'm not even sure where this idea came from. When I moved to Washington DC in the early 70's I adored it. Atlanta for five years--fine, gorgeous. Then at one point, I got job offers in Dallas, San Francisco, Washington DC and Boston. I visited all four places--and whoa. I'd been right since 1963. I enjoy Boston every day.
But when I go to Paris? Yes, indeed. I could live there in a heartbeart.
HALLIE EPHRON: I grew up in southern California, Beverly Hills to be precise, and I confess whenever I go back there I feel old, fat, ad poor. Spent my college years and after in New York City. And yes, I feel completely at home when I'm there. I wouldn't want to live there, but I do so love to visit. Boston still feels like a place I'm visiting.
RHYS: This is funny, Hallie, because I still feel that I'm visiting in San Francisco or in Arizona. It's like a permanent vacation in the latter and the nagging worry about when do we go home?
LUCY BURDETTE: I would take a couple of months in Paris, New York, or Rome--anytime! I've lived a fair number of places--Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, Florida--and managed to feel like all of them were home eventually. But I have what my husband calls a deep "taproot." Meaning it's not that easy to transplant me. In a new place, I wilt for a while, feeling listless and down. Just like a plant. (Confession: I spent 5 months in France during my junior year and I did not take advantage of the possibilities...)
I had this conversation with a sister-in-law recently and mentioned how I get homesick when I travel very long. "Homesick for what?" she asked. "I don't get that at all."
Rhys, I feel about London the way you feel about Paris. Instantly at home, instantly "right." I've never had an explanation. Past lives is as good as any. Paris would be my next choice. I can see myself living there. And an odd third choice, considering the first two--I love LA. I don't know why. I know it's smoggy and the traffic is terrible and it's dreadfully expensive, but my heart just lifts every time I go there. Weird.
So why have I never left Texas permanently? I love Lucy's husband's description of a "tap root." I think Texas is my tap root. Even in London, I start to miss Texas if I am away too long.
RHYS: Past lives or just our personalities? Do you have a place you feel drawn to or destined to live? How important is a sense of place to you? Obviously very important to us, as you see from our writing.