I stood on the sand after 4pm, telling baby girl’s friend’s mum, that it was in fact my third visit to the sea and sand that day.
“Oh, you poor thing,” she teased.
I did in fact, feel bad to say it out loud. 3 beach visits in a day? Gee, sounds stressful!
But it happened rather randomly and unexpectedly, and the way it happened felt like it was MEANT to happen.
Maybe because things have been so shit for some time, the Universe aligned to give me a great, sunshine-y day. 🌞
I had important errands this morning after school drop-off, and after they were done I grabbed an egg and bacon toastie from Banjo’s, a cappuccino from Store Fifteen, and walked on down to the beach.
I’d had an egg and bacon toastie from Banjo’s YONKS ago,and back then it had blown my mind. Well it was pretty delish today, not really any mind-blowing, but that’s because I think I had cheese then, and not today.
Having not had any food since waking up, that brekkie on the beach was the best thing ever. I made friends with the seagulls, squinted into the sun, and watched a sea plane land in the water! It was incredible.
Then my sister and parents visited after lunch, with the sole purpose being, ‘a beach visit.’
So, again. First it had been Mothers.
This time, Mills.
I really loved that my parents seemed to enjoy it. Sis enjoyed it of course, for sure, she loves the water as I do. She dipped her feet into the mild waters, and Dad even did a light jog alongside the water, which we were rapt to see.
I went to pick up baby girl from school hours later, looking forward to a chill afternoon. The last few days had been pretty busy.
But she and her friend had another plan in mind.
They wanted a beach playdate!
And so we found ourselves at Mills again, 30 minutes later. 🤦♀️
The water was colder, and the tide had come in so much, it actually blew my mind how short the span of sand now was. But us Mums sat and talked, the girls wade through the waters looking for so-called pearls, they made sandcastles, and we saw what we were pretty sure were dolphins, far off in the waters, spraying up water! Unbelievable.
3 beach visits. I know I’ve had 2 in a day before, but this is taking the cake, AND for the last day of April, in Autumn… just wow.
And it may seem overly boastful, or excessive… but trust me, with the way things have gone since last year, I need about 54 beach visits in a day to make up for all the hard times that have transpired.
But 3 is good for now. I’ll raincheck the rest. 😉
But now, I AM BUGGERED. Think I’ll stay home and do lots of washing tomorrow… 😂
Two appointments on the other side of town, visiting my parents and sister and fam in between that, and then a big writers meet-up at the end of the night back home.
It’s been a lot.
It’s been a day of a lot of things. Hope. New directions. New people. New plans.
I’m a glass half-full gal, and things are starting to feel right. That glass is filling up again.
With HOPE. 🤞
I’m going on, rambling a bit, I know. I just don’t really know where to rest my creative mind, to release these thoughts from, what to centre on when much has given me happiness today.
But I will talk about nature, because it inspires me.
Specifically, my parents and my sister’s backyard.
I used to love spending time in the backyard of my childhood home. All those memories, all those fun times, so much joy within those trees and the shady spots. I was amazed and surprised then, when I found myself loving my parents’ NEW backyard, finding beauty in little pockets of grass, verdant greenery full and lush underneath your feet, life brimming and blooming from the smallest spring of herb, to a wide-reaching leaf of a fern.
That beauty extends equally to my sister’s backyard.
I was admiring this gorgeous tree, sprouting golden Autumn leaves. We were in her backyard sitting and talking, and so many times I was accidentally witness to a yellow leaf floating easily to the ground.
Before my very eyes.
It was a magical sight.
And I realised later when I headed off, how I find beauty in both of their backyards, and how that must mean something more… for those we love, we find the beauty inherent everywhere, all around them, because they are love.
We are doing renovations at the moment… small ones, yet they will hopefully be long, beautiful and lasting.
(On us, or our backyard do you think????)
One day I hope, someone will look at our yard and see the beauty lying in wait, wanting to be found.
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.
Today I found myself really happy, in a place that I never really thought much of before.
Under the house.
Under, my parents house.
That’s baby girl way back there, climbing further and further underneath.
But at the beginning, we were scaredy cats. All of us, except for Dad. Of course he wasn’t scared, he made that storage space what it is today.
Mum got the guts first. Again, of course. She went in, and was slowly looking around, pulling things out, and discovering hidden treasures…
44 year old hidden treasures. Guess what it was…
I called baby girl out, because hey, check this out! She had never been under there, and seeing as it was the last time at my parents house for her, well there was honestly NO BETTER TIME.
And then it just kinda happened.
It occurred to me, that this was part of my childhood. I remembered going underneath there with my Dad, as a kid, back when I wasn’t so freaked out by spiders and webs… and as I grew, so too did my fascination of the place go dimmer.
I mean, why would I want to go under there? In the dust, bugs threatening to drop, strings of webs stuck to my hair?
I crouched outside the door there today, deciding “I AM GOING UNDER!” I knew the smell that would hit me before I even went in, and I wanted to sit in it, one last time.
As soon as baby girl realised I was headed in, she was off like a rocket, after her Baka. I slowly followed, and once my Dad was in there, soon all four of us were on hands and knees, looking around, me shining my phone torchlight towards them so they could see where they were headed.
As they set off in different directions, I sat, looking around. Those old wine bottles. Bags of old Christmas decorations. Paint tubs. An old crib. Tents. Sleeping bags. Spirits. 100 different planks of wood.
The smell of wine barrels, dust, and something else astringent filled my nostrils.
The air was cool and comforting. Yet something musty surrounded us, the smells of yesteryear hanging low there, reminding us that they would never float away, no matter how long that door remained open.
It was the scent of memories.
That’s what it was. Memories. I may never smell that scent again, but I will never forget it.
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 have a whole collection of stuff I suddenly inherited (i.e. it was ceremoniously dumped here after my parents suddenly sold their house – or you could say I just failed to take it with me since I moved out of there 11 years ago 😬) that I’ve been slowly going through and checking out, for the past week or so.
There is a throw pile. Old bags, lots of school paperwork, dozens of plastic coin change bags (remember those?)
There is a donate pile. Think a glass chess set that I bought my Dad for a birthday, I think, which he never used… why did that end up with me again?
There is a maybe pile. Like these glass/photograph coasters, or that dancing sunflower with the saxophone that used to work on battery, but is struggling now…
There is a ‘whoops this isn’t mine better check with sis/parents’ pile. VHS tapes, some kind of charger?
Then there is the KEEP pile.
OMG, the keep pile. Loads and loads and loads and loads of PAPER STUFF.
Old diaries. School work. Reports. Assignments. I have so much, and I still have one big bag of folders to go through.
What kinds of memories have I found?
All my work payslips pre-2007. ALL OF THEM.
All my high school reports.
The letter my Jeans West Work Experience manager wrote back to my teacher when I was in year 10… “she learnt to apply herself in the time given, but she was a bit shy.”
Ha ha, so me.
Uni assignments, oooh, I’ve loved these. I have a script for a 5 minute film called Doggy Day that I wrote and planned myself. I have an interview I did on my Dad on his life and immigration to Australia which I got good marks for. An article about the RSPCA that I should have sought further help on to get publication, judging by my uni teacher’s comment in the notes. Damn, should have chased that one up.
And so many textual analyses of books and film, oh my goodness.
High school diaries and notes with Hubbie’s name written over them. 😍💖
Psychology, Philosophy, and Ancient History handouts.
My old work pass.
I opened one of my old diaries at whim, to see what day I’d end up on. One entry had me in 1999, 16 years old, where I had met with one of my oldest friends at our local milkbar and we’d ended up walking to the house of our primary school friend who we didn’t see much anymore.
I wrote how we had sat in her bedroom, it had been a bit weird at first but then we’d relaxed and it had turned into the good ol’ days and all the memories we shared.
My 16 year-old self wrote how it was weird, a bit sad, that someone we used to be so close to about five years earlier, we didn’t see much of at all anymore, and our conversations had turned to pleasantries and reminiscing of the past, rather than the stuff you typically share with your closest friends – “Did you hear what happened to her?” “Did you hear about the party last Friday?” – type thing.
And I observed in this diary, and wondered, if the friends I had then in high school, whether we would be like that one day, exchanging pleasantries and talking about the past as the only thing we could hold onto.
In 6 years time, would we be a bit awkward like that too?
I smiled. SmikG NOW smiled.
I smiled as I read, wanting to jump into the pages of my old diary and grab 16 year-old SmikG, grabbing her by the shoulders to shake her excitedly and tell her –
“Guess what? You stay friends with them ALL! A couple of them drop off, sure, but you’ll come to realise they weren’t real friends anyway!
Your true friends are still friends… not 6 years later, but even 21 years later!”
And 16 year-old me, would undoubtedly have gone –
And asked immediately –
“Who aren’t I friends with anymore?”
And this SmikG would have shook her head with a cluck cluck cluck and said.
“Dear girl… I think you already know.”
I’ve had so much fun going back in time, and it’s made me realise how much I’ve changed, but also, how much I am still exactly the same.
Still passionate about the written word, still writing stories, still experimenting in different forms, and still wondering about the future and life in general…
I wonder what SmikG 10 years from now would say to me now…
Did you know Queen has a Christmas song? Actually, two that I know of. The one I’m referring to, the same title as my blog post, well I discovered it a few months ago.
But upon finding it to play, I struggled to get through it without tears in my eyes, as the lyrics hit me hard, having gone through some issues at the time.
This morning, I put it on repeat, several times.
“Oh, my friends, it’s been a long hard year
But now it’s Christmas
Yes it’s Christmas
Thank God it’s Christmas.”
Those were my sentiments exactly, and I went into Christmas at my parents house, shared with my sister and her family, feeling utterly grateful.
Snapshots of Christmas 2020.
You might notice a plate of lemons in there. Well you see, lemons are the right fruit to refer to with what I’m about to share, having played an important part of a moment I had today.
Not only was I grateful to be amongst family after a year like no other, where hardship and difficulty seemed to arrive at every opportunity, but it was a bittersweet Christmas in that it would be the last at my childhood home before my parents moved house.
It was a Christmas, like so many we’d had there before… full of love, happiness, laughter, and great memories. But every now and then, it hit me – CRAP, this was our last one there.
I was cutting up lemons for our evening prawn feast, when it struck me again.
Last Christmas here.
And suddenly, it was bittersweet. Much like the lemons. On their own they were hard to take, your face screwed up when you bit into it, they were so sour…
But in accompaniment, with something else, like prawns… with a martini… or with honey… somehow it tasted a lot better.
It was great, even desirable.
Much like this last Christmas.
It wasn’t the last, but it would be the last there.
I could take it though. I could take it, because I still took with me all the memories of being there, celebrating Christmas after Christmas with my family and friends, all throughout the years.
Most importantly, I was taking the most important thing with me.
As if on cue, INXS’s ‘Don’t Change’ came on the radio, and I had to smile.
If only there were no change. Things would be so easy, with everything staying the same, static, and with no room to move.
But that’s the point of life you see. To grow. To evolve.
There MUST be change.
So I took the lemons to the table, and we enjoyed them in the best prawn feast ever.