I miss the cracks. The imperfections. The new holds little charm. I miss the tumbledown terraces and uneven sidewalks that my own grandmother trod when these inner city streets were still solidly working class.
I drive down Marion Street towards Annandale and see a group of women gathered in a narrow doorway, sharing a cigarette and the sort of easy intimacy that I hunger after in my new home. I imagine that they not only share secrets but bloodlines that stretch all the way back to Europe. Their faces are untouched, more interesting than beautiful, and it is their imperfections that make me want to let go of the steering wheel and take a photo.
On the streets of Annandale, outside the family run supermarket, I run into a dad from our old school. I am surprised he remembers me, let alone knows my name, and as he fills me in on the local gossip the children's moods shift to match the darkening sky. They are less than impressed that I can't seem to walk more than a few metres on this block without striking up a conversation.
Before we return to the hotel, I force the children to pose for yet another picture. I am behaving more like a tourist than a local, seeking to capture the essence of a stretch of road that used to represent nothing more to me than tight parking and last minute grocery runs.
We are home again, in a faraway place full of people who are also hungry for a taste of home. We get on with it, spreading Vegemite on our substandard toast each morning, knowing that in a years time we will happily exchange a perfect Californian summer for the imperfections of home.