Friday, March 13, 2009

This house was my home

My mum ("mother" didn't sound right) sold her house recently. When I say that she sold "her" house I mean that it had become hers when my parents agreed to go their separate ways (dad had his own place). And when I say that she sold her house "recently" I measure time by the number of years that we lived there. I was born in Collie and lived in this house from as far back as I can remember until I moved to Perth just before I was 18. I grew up from here and I kept coming back, of course. This place was always as at home as I could be. In Perth, over the winding, wending way through twelve years of my life, I lived at about twelve different, consecutive addresses. But a part of me always lived on in Collie, through my parents who were both there, through the remnants of a childhood's worth of consumerism, and through me, even though I was elsewhere. I wonder if any other place I could live in will ever be as homely as this place was; I don't mean to say that it was possessed of great lineage or architecture, or that I had a wonderful childhood there, or that it glows with some sort of mysterious, emotional inner-glow. I mean that, due to the reality that I lived there for the first 18 years of my life, this place will always be where I have come from.

This entry is dedicated to the house. The photos are in no way a specially selected set that somehow best present the house or frame my memories of it. They just happened to be all that I have access to right now in Taiwan. But they're good enough to show you around.

Welcome to my old house.
I took this photo one foggy winter morning. I love this photo. The harsh, all-revealing Australian sun is absent, allowing for a bit of obscurity and uncertainty. Perhaps this is what my memory of the house is like.

Off the street and down into the front driveway: this is where my friend Alex and I set off on our trip around the South-West of Western Australia.

Up the driveway and in through the front door: you can see directly through to the lounge-room and the tropical sunset wallpaper that covers the far wall.

Here's that wallpaper again in the lounge-room and here's Andrea posing for a tropical-island getaway to destinations sublime.

The backyard, looking towards the house. There's the lemon tree that had grown in our backyard for as long as I can remember. I suffered many thorns in my feet over the years, but it was a worthwhile trade-off for all the lemons and lemon-juice we enjoyed.

Another shot in the backyard, looking up at the house from a different angle. The lemon tree is now in the far left of the shot and not obscuring the house. That room up top had big windows which looked out over the Collie River Valley, giving me a view of my home town going about its business, day in, day out. I think that moving into that room after it was built had an important impact on my psychology: the town of Collie which had once seemed limitless and always seemed big suddenly looked very small and its extent was visible. A whole microcosm of Australia was revealed at once, a whole community enacted itself without caring that I knew. My world seemed smaller and the real world seemed closer.

Taken from the same spot, looking in roughly the other direction (the lemon tree is now in the far-right of shot). You can see that large green shed in which my dad (again, "father" just doesn't feel right) spent so much time and creativity fixing things, building things, and breaking things. How many plots and schemes were concocted in there? I loved to walk in there and marvel at the possibilities offered by all the tools and materials scattered along shelves and walls, hiding in boxes and cabinets, or simply laying about on the floor. I wish I had spent more time learning how to make more of it useful.

From outside the big green shed, looking up the garden path towards the house. There on the left is our vegetable garden which supplied us with a wealth of vegetables all the years we lived here. Beautiful blue sky. Bag of manure.

Down by one of the two sets of gates that opened up onto the back-laneway. Once upon a time these laneways were used by the nightmen whose job it was to collect the human sewage. These days they are good for lugging useful things to the rear of the house, things like scrap metal and firewood. This is where Andrea and I started off on our 5000km road-trip into Western Australia and where we finished that same trip weeks later.

Of course a house itself is not a home. But this house and this street, these streets, this town, will forever, I believe, be home to me, for better or worse. For better or worse, I suppose I wouldn't be me if this wasn't my home.

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