I was meant to attend this multicultural workshop today in person, but alas, COVID.
It had been rescheduled many times, and by the time today came I think the organisers felt we could all wait no more.
Put it online.
I had my tea ready, my writing tools, position by the window… check. ✔
We explored using a language other than English within our writing: whether that be a language we’ve lived with at home, a language we’ve inherited, or a language we’ve learned from living in another place. We experimented with techniques and read poetic examples of other writers who have dabbled in this method of the multilingual writer.
We had a couple of writing exercises too, and I wanted to share one of those with you. In exploring language, and what another language meant to us, and how it defined us… my memory led me to a perfect example.
My childhood example:
“My childhood can’t pinpoint the part at which I learnt to speak English or my ancestral tongue. They are both blended and merged, swirled together in a kaleidoscope of colours; mixed together like the Croatian walnut roll, ‘orehnjaca’ my Mum made. The walnut filling was a distinct layer, separate from the dough, and yet you couldn’t have one without the other. It was perfect as a whole.
Old footage has me at my third birthday, my mum and godmother encouraging me to repeat the words “spider, yuck” after someone had used a rubber spider to scare my arachnophobe sister, consequently scaring me too in the process. I repeated these words to the camera, my childlike voice coming out clearly tinged with the European dialect I was accustomed to.
In the next breath my godmother was laughing about my fear of “debeli kum” and she and my Mum broke up in unrestrained laughter. Spoken so I didn’t understand, but I knew precisely what they were saying – my “fat godfather” as they had coined him, who I was petrified of, perhaps not so much for his size, but for his warped German accent when he spoke Croatian, and his loud bellowing “mwa ha ha ha” laugh as he joined in on their laughter and teasing.”
That is moccasins to you, my English speaking friends. 😉
Do not show me an ugg boot. Do you know what I say when I see an ugg boot?
Get it? The ugg is named aptly, because it is DAMN UGLY. Only once in my whole life have we had ugg boots in our house, and that was because baby girl got them as a gift when she was a baby, and even then when I put them on her, Hubbie stirred me forever and a day because he knows I don’t like ugg boots.
I think they pass on a baby. I mean, everything looks cute on a baby.
But, ugh. Pass on the UGG-LY boots, please.
Moccasins, ALL THE WAY.
From as long as I can remember, these things have been on my feet all year round. A couple of months around summer, I live in thong-type cushiony slippers… but these things, these moccasins, spell one thing.
I wore them all through my childhood and teenage years, and really they remind me of my childhood home, of my parents, of keeping feet warm and protected through everything.
I mean, why would you wear basic slippers when it’s cold? There is no proper support, or protection, or warmth… they can so easily slip off.
Actually, slippers are a hazard.
Moccasins fit snugly around your foot, providing cushions of love and goodness to keep those toes toasty, all day long.
(And yes, I know ugg-ly boot lovers will argue that their boots do the same, but the fact that you have to pull them off makes them so inconvenient, and did I mention, ugly? 🤣)
I got a new pair today at the local Wednesday market, because I wore my old ones to the ground to the point that there was literally no cushioning left in the moccasins!
There has been a lot of working from home and home-schooling over the past year, so they have been in high demand. 😁
But, ahhh. A new pair of moccasins. To set me up for the cold months ahead…
I’ve wanted to travel to Bright for maybe 10 years now.
It’s been the trees. Sure I love the water, and live near the water, but I have a thing about trees.
Big, bold, grand, old, beautiful trees. And Bright is renowned for plenty of those, and in Autumn?
Stunning colours abound.
Greens, golds, oranges, and bright reds… bright reds! Even purple, brown, and then there are all the shades of greens imaginable.
I’ve actually been to Bright, a long, long time ago. I was about 8, and went with my parents and another family, but it was in summer. The photos show heat, swimming in rivers, eating ice creams, and a cute little dog we befriended named Bingo, as well as a New Years Eve celebration complete with fireworks.
Today, we drove to Bright.
What will our photos show?:
Fallen leaves. Trees of every colour. People rugged up in jackets, beanies and scarves. Long track walks and mountains in the distance.
Living through lockdown has given us a new way of connecting with other people… online.
I am still working from home, and today we played this online Pictionary game. You have to draw on the screen from a selection of words you’ve been given… and the rest of the room, (people participating) have to guess what you’re drawing.
I thought it was pretty cool, and it was Friday, so later my mind wandered where it usually goes to on Friday nights… to my friends. We spent a lot of Zoom calls together during those few months last year, and so I got to really get used to seeing their faces, talking about anything and everything, and just connecting in a way that honestly, we never really had before.
The lockdown had given us a new opportunity to learn even more about each other, through a multitude of topics, discussion, and debate.
And it was great. I realised no matter how much they talk, how much we disagree, how much we maybe shit each other up the wall… we are ultimately stuck with each other for life. That’s it.
And I love it.
So, missing my crew, I sent the random message out: “Anyone wanna play a game online?” Well to be expected, most were busy and couldn’t, but one such friend said “sure, give me a sec.”
And so I’ve spent the last hour or so of this night, chatting to her online while we played online Pictionary!
She is one of my oldest friends. I actually can’t remember if we were friends first in grade 1, or grade 2… I have no idea. I have no idea because after a while, your memory starts to get blurry. I never believed it when I was in my teens, or late childhood. I couldn’t understand how people would say “I can’t remember” about a huge, momentous milestone in their life. I used to think, “how can you not remember something so important?”
Well, now I know. Because as life goes on, your head gets filled up with more and more stuff, and the other stuff that you don’t think of as much, well it starts to fade.
So, so true. Maybe that’s why I’m so adamant about capturing every written word. It’s my own personal record for my unpredictable mind.
Anyway, you get my drift. We’ve been friends for about 30 years, not a word of a lie. And while we laughed at each other’s funny drawings, and tried to make sense of the game, we also caught up and reconnected, and it made me realise that technology, lockdown even, brought a few pretty good things with it.
A Friday night spent watching something on TV, or just letting the hours while away on random stuff around the house, was instead spent sharing some laughs and having fun with one of my oldest besties.
And then, in amongst all that… a milestone! Baby girl got fed up with me on the computer playing games, and put herself to bed!
It’s actually the second time she’s fallen asleep on her own like this, but the first that she did it intentionally… the first time she went to bed as I set up watch over a huntsman in our room, making sure he didn’t hide anywhere, waiting for Hubbie to come home and get rid of it. I’d told her to wait in her bed for me another 20 minutes, and instead she had fallen asleep.
But tonight, tonight was intentional. I was there chatting away, and then went to check up on her… I even kissed her head… and she remained sleeping. Peaceful. Absolutely beautiful, as all sleeping children are. 🤣
So, a good night all around. Looking back, looking forwards… as long as it’s done with the right people…
Today was the day that we said goodbye to our family home.
The home that my parents have lived in for 40 years.
The home that my sister spent growing up as a teenager, all the way until she got married.
The home that’s the only childhood, family home I’ve ever known… that I lived in for 25 years until I got married.
Goodbye, number 14.
It was an emotionally bittersweet day. Emotional because oh God, all of the above! So many memories are in every inch, every corner, every crevice of that house.
Through the rush to get everything out of the house this morning, I tried to pause every so often, look around, take a breath, and say a personal thanks to the house that made my years growing up, the best in the world.
Here is the emotional part.
I was reflecting on my life spent there as I walked around the empty rooms, a bit taken aback by the hollowness of it all. The furniture, furnishings, and all the photos and trinkets that made it such a loved home, were all gone.
But oh, those walls. If those walls could talk.
Those walls would speak of happiness, of laughter. Of sadness and shock, family coming together, and family celebrating to make the most out of life.
And love. SO much love.
Memories hit me as I walked into rooms, turned corners. Looked this way, that. People from the past resurfaced, along with people from the present.
In the lounge room, I saw myself sitting on the floor while my parents watched footy on the TV.
In the kitchen I saw my Mum cooking up a feast, our family sitting down to eat at the small round table, perfect for us in size, so perfect, to keep us tight and close together, as always.
In the garden I saw happiness. Friends, cousins, brimming around, enjoying a drink on a hot Summer’s day, folk music from the garage wafting over and adding to the festive atmosphere of it all.
The garage, ohhhh, the garage. Where so, so, so many parties and events were had. Birthdays. Milestones. Weddings. Day after weddings! New Years. And all of the Christmases that Mum cooked up a storm, catering for over 30 people like it was an absolute breeze, even though it wasn’t.
She made it look effortless.
Those were the days. Those were the BEST days.
The park next door. Hearing the squeals of happiness from our younger cousins as they took advantage of the play proximity.
At the front door, I saw my sister being led out in her wedding dress by my parents… then I saw myself, doing the same.
The dining room showed me all of us, our big family, as we are now. The original foursome, us, being my parents, sister and I, but now with our Hubbies and our kids, filling up the table, eating heaps, drinking more, and playing music off of youtube on the mobile until the late hours of the night.
In my bedroom. The bedroom that I spent 15 years of my life sleeping, dreaming and hoping in. I had another room for the first 10 years of my life, but I claimed this one, sister’s one, after she got married and moved out.
It’s always been the better room.
I sat in my old room. Took some photos around me. And then here, I began to cry.
I remember watching Video Hits for hours on weekend mornings.
My childhood cat scratching at my window, wanting to be let in, and then me opening the window to shoo her, upset she had woken me… but when she jumped down from the window sill outside, I thought stuff it, you’ve woken me now… and so I would call her back in (she must have thought I was a crazy bipolar cat owner) and she’d snuggle up next to me as I slept a little more.
I’d open up that window, and talk to friends through it.
I talked to SO MANY people, through it.
I listened to music for hours on my bed.
I had sleepovers in that room.
I had sleepovers in that house! On the lounge room floor, covered in blankets and sleeping bags.
When Croatia played Australia in the 2006 World Cup, Hubbie-then-boyfriend and I watched it, me running around the house with a Cro flag when Croatia scored a goal, and Hubbie running around the house with an Aussie flag when they scored a goal.
I don’t remember who won that game. All I remember is the memories.
All the people who came, and went from that house. It would be in the hundreds. Friends, family, people who I grew up with, grew apart from, so many people have touched base in that house, shared a laugh, a dance, a drink, and made a memory.
Even baby girl. It was the first place that she ever visited, after her own home.
Speaking of baby girl… My waters broke in that house! And my own Mum’s waters broke in there, when she was pregnant with me!
Both sister’s Hubbie, and my Hubbie, met my parents for the first time in THAT lounge room…
News broke. Secrets shared. Heavy discussions were had. Tears shed.
People were welcomed. People were greeted.
People came in, and immediately knew that there was love. They were safe. They were in a memorable place.
And so today, the time came. We walked through the house. We took our final photos.
And we drove off, for good.
That was seriously bitter, right?
Where is the sweet?
Well, it comes with the choice. How blessed are we that this was born of my parents decision to move closer to me and sis, and not because of a bad circumstance.
How lucky are we that we get to say goodbye, together, in the best way possible… and how lucky that we still get to take ALL the memories with us?
Including most importantly, the people.
I am so looking forward to making just as many happy memories in their new abode. 🏡🏡
But my heart will always hold a very special and dear place, for number 14.
I realised with extreme sadness this morning, as we got ready to go to my parents house, that it would be the LAST TIME EVER Hubbie went there.
I started to cry.
Oh the memories. The memories. I can’t even begin to express the breadth and depth of emotion when it comes to the memories.
In some ways, I am feeling more for my parents leaving this house, then I did for Hubbie, baby girl and I moving from our first home over 4 years ago now.
4 years, versus 40 years. There is A LOT of difference there.
I even cried when we were at the front of the house today, Hubbie filling up the car with stuff to move over to their new place. I sat on the big pillar that serves as a mailbox, remembering how I sat there with my neighbours, over 25 years earlier.
I walked up to my former friends’ houses, noticing how I hadn’t done it for decades… and knowing that it had been different for just as long.
It’s hard to remove yourself from the place where you made so many memories. It’s hard because a piece of you stays there forever.
Sure, many of the people in those memories have moved away and are gone… but I was always able to visit the my parents house, my old home, and reminisce about the way things used to be.
Today I stopped and stared a lot. Looked around my parents back yard. Their enviously luscious green back yard. So abundantly healthy and blooming in all life forms of nature. Several times I went past the pear tree, and as I lifted my head, the fruit actually bonked me on the head, hard.
I had to laugh.
I know the memories will come with me. I have been preparing for this moment for so long now. But until the day of goodbye comes, I will keep staring at that beautiful green, drilling it into my memory for all of time.
I always wanted her to be ready, and ask me before doing it. But at the same time, I kinda hoped it wouldn’t take too long, and that she might take a similar path as I did when I was her age…
I was 6. Today, at the age of 7, we walked into the beauty salon.
She was excited the whole time, ultimately tentative when it came to sitting on the bed, and then the two girls came from either side of her to hold against her ear what could only be described as a type of gun… and then at the critical “1, 2, 3” moment, her face did register shock, maybe even sadness?
Oh, my girl. 😭
But she was okay, and in a matter of moments, all was right again. A spray of the earlobes, here and there, and she was rapt!
She truly loves them. For someone that is actually pretty squeamish when it comes to any kind of doctor-related stuff, she has gone into this decision, and come out, so courageously. I actually can’t believe it, and Hubbie and I didn’t actually believe it would happen… until it did.
Only hours later, and she said to me “when I’m older, I wanna get another one here (the top of her ear lobe).”