Sarah Jane Doe

Home in away

hydrangeas in ubud

Every morning I wake up in away. Far, far away. Mornings are my favourite time of the day in Ubud. The light is brilliant, faceted, aquamarine. The air is always perfectly still, scented with the incense and petals arranged on thousands of tiny, banana-leaf-plate offerings made to The Gods Who Eat Flowers For Breakfast. Roosters are laughing, hens are chuckling, and doves with giant bells round their neck are humming softly. Dogs set off trotting on adventure, and on my way to second breakfast, I invariably pass a cat with the wind up its pants, whipping through a paddy chasing butterflies and trying not to get its feet wet.

My bright rubber thongs flap along past freshly washed doorways on quiet streets, and most stores are still sleeping with signs saying ‘we’re open when we’re open’. My spot at Bar Luna is always free, waiting for me under overhanging masses of passionflowers. Children walk past in adorable school uniforms, giggling and singing and disappearing into laneways. A little boy casually puts a wooden flute to his lips and produces an exotic tune so magical and deep that I want to snap every plastic recorder in the Australian primary school system and replace them. Immediately. Away gives home such a beating sometimes.

But coming to the end of my first month here in Ubud, I’ve found home sneaking in here and there. I have taken to buying bunches of hydrangeas at the morning fresh food markets. These giant pastel stems look as incongruous as I do next to all the bright oranges and reds of the tropical fruit and flowers. I had no idea they even grew here. They look like summer holidays at my Nan’s house, and my bedside at home in Alfred Cottage.  I put them in my Ubud bathroom and their big puffy faces never fail to make me smile.

I’ve ferreted out the only three coffee spots capable of producing a cup like Fitzroy’s finest (Bar Luna, F.R.E.A.K. and Seniman) and find I can no longer start my away day without a strong home latte. Piling two teaspoons of rough brown crystals (or lumps of sticky palm sugar at F.R.E.A.K) on to the heavy foam, I watch until my sugary Atlantis is swallowed with a plop. Stir. Sip. Repeat. Home*.

*Note: this description of ‘home’ as good strong coffee and hydrangeas is probably not a platonic ideal – what’s ‘home’ for you gentle readers?

2 Thoughts on “Home in away

  1. Oh I love this Runs-With-Hydrangeas. I love that you can’t escape your totem flower, CLEARLY you and it are one and the same.

    ‘Home’ is such an interesting concept isn’t it? When I was travelling ridiculous amounts I found that it wasn’t so much about replicating environments or searching for familiar, physical snippets of home life in terms of a place but more searching for my home beacon in my consciousness and body. Shit just got deep and hippie didn’t it? Apologies.

    I worked out that it took some really good music and a candle. Hilarious, right? So I used to travel around with a rose scented candled and upon each arrival into a new city and hotel room I used to light it up, play my favourite music, write my lists, dance around the room etc when I arrived in each new city and hotel room. OH, and had a hot bath. Always with bubbles. That to me was home.

    Oh and PS, ‘home’ and its strong lattes miss you. xoxo

  2. sarahjanedoe on June 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm said:

    Funny how home is sensations – scents, tastes, sounds (bird songs or song-songs). And rituals too, like your lists, dancing around, drawing a bath. We travelled so much when I was little. Home was my parents – I’ll have to ask them what their tricks were for making that work.

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