Faraway Home


Just under a year ago, I stood above this same southern spot, stared across the pink-orange dusk, a flock of bats circling the late-spring Sydney sky, and sobbed my eyes out.

As badly as I missed the bone-deep familiarities of my beloved California home, I ached with a heartsick desire not to leave Australia.

I could not understand the centripetal pull toward a Sydney center, any more than I could explain a fascination for Australia that began in my childhood (tied in with my adoration for Olivia Newton-John and an affinity for koalas). And how, exactly, did the quirks of fate conceive for me an internet-based career that just so happened to flourish among the Aussies… a 3-year gig as horoscope-writer for a Sydney-based mag… a growing cadre of true-blue friends (or should I say 'mates') in this land so far far away, who are starting to know me as well as my American pals, and who now comprise an extended Aussie family of ever-strengthening roots?

Upon returning stateside last December, on the drive home from SFO, I recall gliding around that last curve on Highway 101 before the captivating eye-candy panorama of our San Francisco skyline comes into view—that entrancing vista which, for as long as I could remember, has always brought shivers up the length of my body—and felt nothing but a strange quiet flatness. What the hell is this? I wondered in silent panic. Is this my cosmic symptom of a dying relationship, a rupture with my assumed always-and-forever-place? Am I falling out of love?

It therefore wasn't long before I pretty immediately booked my next flight back to Australia, nearly a year in advance. I had been so thrown off by my surprise irrational yearning to move to Sydney, I figured the most rational next-step would be to return as soon as I could… to observe whether this yearning would persist, or pass away, over time.

In the meantime, settling back into my SF home-life was not as smoothly productive as I'd hoped: Projects I intended to tackle in the first part of '12 got repeatedly sidetracked (which, at first, I grumpily blamed on Mars retrograde). My free-spirit thirst for some sort of creative newness stayed underquenched, bumping up against restraints I, of course, had built myself at prior junctures of stunning creativity, but which now demanded mundane persevering caretaking. I felt trapped by the responsibilities of my success—a good problem to have, sure, but a problem nonetheless.

Over the months, I regularly reflected back on one astrological session I'd had last year in Sydney, with a client suffering from a hazy malaise related to an ambivalence in her relationship with the concept of home. During our conversation, what she initially labeled as a lack of any sense of home we then unpacked into a deeper acceptance of her intangible, affective home-connection to the land of North America. Yet, despite uncovering that, probably, a certain degree of her emotional discontent would likely be appeased by an eventual relocation overseas, her existing duty-filled circumstances seemed to prevent such a move at any time in the imminent future. Together, we discussed the concept of exile as a description for that perpetual heartsickness when we are prevented from following the call of home due to circumstances partly or totally out of our control. Sometimes, we must knowingly live in exile… temporarily, or for an entire lifetime.

The further in time I got from last year's visit, the more my visceral pull to move to Sydney continued to dim. I started to doubt its veracity even more so following a life-changing trip to New Orleans in May, after which I experienced a similar (though even less rational) urge to relocate there… even as I simultaneously intuited that, for me, any stay in the powerful abyss of 'the Big Easy' couldn't last beyond a few months without posing real risks to my well-being (whether through the gluttonous cuisine, the endlessly flowing booze, and/or my flirtations with the ghouls lurking in every shadow). The rise of this phantom parallel-wish helped clarify for me that, despite sincere deep-hearted love for both Sydney and New Orleans, this pining-away for a different 'home' was less geographic—and more emotional—in true nature.

I point to my natal 4th-house Pluto as the culprit behind these complicated feelings around home… and, consequently, to the current Uranus-Pluto square, which now forms a transiting T-square (an opposition and a square, respectively) to this natal Pluto, and is responsible for essentially forcing an ongoing chaotic-and-deeply-unsettling transformation in my relationship to home. The 4th house not only describes the literal place we call home (both geographic location and residential dwelling), but also the sense of inner emotional security we foster (or don't, as the case may be) by investing in our home as a safe respite and sanctuary for self-nurture. The 4th also points back to where we come from, our familial roots and how we replicate and/or react against the private nurture-habits we were raised with. Is it any wonder, with my Pluto-in-the-4th, I still live within an hour's drive of where I grew up… and yet, the minute I graduated high school, I couldn't wait to dash off to a university as far across the country as I could get? Complicated.

Late last year, as private stress started more pointedly accumulating around the many outer-world responsibilities bearing down on me, I found it increasingly difficult to find much inner solace on the home-front. I craved that free-spirited excitement of initiating fresh creative starts in my career (transiting Uranus in my 10th)… though, first, I'd have to meet my existing, and often overwhelming, commitments to projects already begun, stirring an inner doubt-and-panic feedback loop … all while my interpersonal-relationship sector encountered its own productive-though-uncomfortable escalation (transiting Pluto on my Descendent), yet, because my partner and I live together, there never really was an 'off' moment. My craving for a new home mirrored my emotional desire for some sort of relocation away from the inescapable complexities involved in riding out my Uranus-Pluto revolution, its ramifications in both career and relationship impacting my ability to attain internal safety, that 'at-home' feeling.

As the first half of 2012 gave way to the second, I moved closer to confronting all the hard work and disarray I associate with embracing my revolution—and, lo and behold, I experienced a renewed urge to stay closer to home. When this most recent trip to Australia began to approach, I sometimes wished I wasn't going: I had too much to take care back at home, and found the timing rather inconvenient. Although I was eager to visit with my Aussie friends and consult with my clients, the fantasy of relocating to such a faraway home had subsided.

My return to Oz ultimately proved as glorious as every other one of my prior visits (this was my fourth)... with an especially interesting and extra-intense series of astrological sessions (thank you, solar eclipse in Scorpio), and much love shared with friends. I still felt a pang of longing as I strolled through the streets of Sydney (now proudly referred to as my 'second home'), observing the youthful vitality and artistic optimism of a thriving culture with its brightest days still ahead. This can-do Aussie energy is not only contagious, it also strikes a sharp contrast with the contagion presently sweeping my other home: The United States is at a critical turning-point, looking down from the crest of its position as the world's lone 'superpower' and pressed to integrate into a more globally interdependent (and therefore diminished) role. The US suffers from painful existential angst as a result. Sometimes, the uglier manifestations of our collective American fears make me want to be an expat.

And still, alone in my Melbourne hotel room when the American election results came in, I had no doubt my heart remains in San Francisco. I cried and cried, tears of joy and relief, worry and homesickness, on behalf of my home… a place so polarized, its populace is torn between triumph and trauma. Thanks to Facebook, I shared all this emotion with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen as it was happening, from thousands of miles away. Concepts of home evolve, in part because technology affords us an unprecedented luxury of residing in multiple homes, not limited by geography—all the while, though, global citizens also often endure a persistent ache of exile in multiple locations, separated from home even when comfortably ensconced in another.

Once again, I left Sydney with wet eyes and a heavy heart… and when I drove back into San Francisco, I got those familiar chills once again. Complicated.