The familiar scenery of south-western Victoria unfolds along the drive home from the airport.
Green grass, cows in paddocks, rolling hills. Gum trees line the road and the early autumn sunshine filters through them.
It’s all so beautiful and so normal and I find it jarring that I find it comforting in some way, because I didn’t want to come home in the first place.
Silent tears roll down my cheek.
If anyone notices, I’ll just let them assume it’s because I’m tired or I’m happy to be back.
As we roll into the driveway, I see that my maple trees have their first full autumn colour. They really are beautiful.
My dog runs to meet me. She is beside herself with happiness. Her tail is wagging so hard that she can’t control the rest of her body.
As I unpack my bags, she follows me everywhere. She’s probably making sure that things come out of the suitcase and nothing goes back in.
When I sit down, she is my my side, seeking contact and cuddles and my hand on her head. Then she settles down, puts her head on my foot and goes to sleep.
It’s the first time I am happy to be home.