Thursday, 14 December 2006


We bought our house 18 months ago, and ever since, we have been elbows deep in renovations - MAJOR renovations.
A couple of weeks back I was on the front lawn painting the unhinged front door a lovely hue of midnight something-a-rather.
It just so happened that a huge slowball tournament for the "beer league" was taking place that weekend, so there were an abnormally high number of passers-by stopping to talk and give house and garden tips - yeah thanks mate!
Later in the day, a twenty-something guy walked past staring at the house; he just smiled. Later, he walked past the other way muttering "memories, memories, memories". Moments later another guy walked past and stopped to talk to Ashley. He tells him that he is a friend of the previous owners son, pointing to the guy who had just walked by. The comment made me wonder what he thought, seeing his childhood home.
I have lived in a few places, and it kind of creeps me out to see where I used to live - like something in the house recognises an escapee or something, or perhaps fragments of my energy are somehow locked into the fibres of the house and are reaching for my soul as I stand there gaping for the few moments I can bear to look, before I feel compelled to slam on the accelerator and skid away as quickly as possible. Has anyone else ever had that experience or is it just weird old me? Not all places have that effect, just the significant ones.My earliest years were spent in a small rural community in the Murray Mallee. The house was an old federation style stone and red brick home, with high ceilings and cool thick stone walls. There was a pink blossoming almond tree out the side and the place was backed against scrub-land, which was an amazing lush wonderland of greenery, moss and bridal creeper during the cooler months, but a virtual snake pit in summer, and avoided at all cost.My room was painted in the loudest version of aquamarine you could possibly imagine, with white trim. The rooms were huge. There was a three sided veranda skirting around it, which was wide enough to do whatever really. It was great. I loved that house. It will forever be preserved as the perfect childhood memory, because we moved from there when I was 10, and a couple of years later it burned to the ground. My Grandparents lived on the adjoining property, a mile or so away. I have great memories of life inside that house too. The house has now been condemned and it was eery and terribly sad to see it a few years back; deserted, neglected, unloved... forgotten. Memories, memories, memories, indeed.
The next house my parents built. It was a large light brown brick home. Everything in it was modern and new, unlike the old place. I remember playing "lifestyles of the rich and famous", welcoming imaginary film crews and a TV host to wander through, while I gave them all the royal tour- pretty funny. I lived there until I was 17. I dream about that house a lot, and recognise that it has sort of come to represent a particular developmental stage in my life.
At 17 I moved away from home and lived in a dodgy boarding house inhabited by lonely old men, potheads and ex-crims. When I first moved there, I was one of two girls in the place, but soon after, I was the only girl to last more that 48 hours with that group of societies outcasts. I lived there for 10 months - I have no feelings of connection to that place, but if I had a blog back then - gee would your eyes bulge ... crazy times!
Then I lived in a flat on a glam street in a posh part of town. It was a safe place to live and close to everything - I could even walk to work. I enjoyed living there for about 18 months or so with my brother, who was attending secondary college at the time. There were many flats in that complex and many people have probably come and gone since I lived there.
I then moved back in with my parents, who had since moved, and were in the process of building another house, in a different town. It was a nice place; two storey and near the beach, which is what I loved and remember most. I didn't spend a whole lot of time there really, since I worked quite long hours, so when I see that place now, it is kind of weird, because I witnessed its creation, but nothing of me remains there.
Ashley and I then bought our first house. It was a sweet little house, with a huge, parrot filled gum tree out back and a to-die-for view of the distant mountains. We had grown out of the place when we sold it to come to Canada, but we loved it and it reflected so much of ourselves that we might just have put up with the various inconveniences and lack of space, just so we could remain there. We miss our old place; so many of our happiest memories were spent there. I dream about it quite a bit still. It was funny. A year ago when we were briefly in Australia, we drove by and it looked just as we left it; almost felt like it was welcoming us home after a long holiday. It was good to know that someone else appeared to love it, as we had.
Presently, I feel no connection to this current place, despite the hours of hard labour put into it. I don't feel it is very reflective of us. I can't really put my finger on it. Maybe time is required, or perhaps we have to stop DOING stuff to it, so it can settle and get used to its new self. Change is more than an external happening, it must also take place in the essence, or maybe the energy of the original owners remains, haunting and seeping from the nooks and crannies where neither paintbrush nor broom can reach.

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