1984. Brisbane, Qld. An overnight train ride from Sydney to Murwillumbah, then a two hour drive to Brisbane.
A hotel room. Just one.
This was our new home until we found a house to live in.
Two weeks later. We found a house. It was empty, the carpet was green and leaves were scattered across the lounge room floor.
An empty house. No beds, no fridge, no table, no chairs. (The truck with our furniture was travelling at a snail’s pace from the south coast of NSW).
There was nothing in the house, except me and three children.
Their father went to work each morning, and that left me, a five year old, a three year old and a four month old to play hide and seek in an empty house.
One week later. It was hot and the cheese melted, so we bought a fridge.
The box added to the places we could hide in, in our daily games of hide and seek.
One week later. The truck finally arrived and the house filled up.
It was another beginning.
Our lives are full of beginnings: some are low key – we begin a new book and we have to get used to the tone, the author’s style, the language choices the author has made, the characters. If the transition to this new book and all it contains is relatively easy, we keep reading. If something jars – the number of times a character stumbles as she walks into a room, for instance, or we read that the male character cocks his head seventeen times in two pages – we put it down.
Some beginnings are more substantial: a new relationship, enrolling in a university course, moving from Kinder to Grade 1, moving interstate.
1986. Ringarooma, Tasmania. A flight from Brisbane to Launceston, then a two hour drive to Ringarooma. It was cold, the road was unlike roads we were used to. Narrow, windy, hilly, pot-holed.
Clouds clung to the hills; it was damp and grey. August. Winter. We’d thought winter in Brisbane was cold, but this was something else.
A farmhouse … a big one, a cold one. No heating except an open fire in the kitchen. There was nothing in this big, cold house, except me and four children.
Their father went to work each morning, and that left me, a seven year old, a five year old, a two year old and a five month old to play hide and seek in a big, cold, empty farmhouse.
Another beginning. This time away from family and friends, away from the warmth, away from civilisation even. We lived in a sheep farm out of town, (and it wasn’t even a big town).
How we manage the beginnings we have in our lives depends on our strength and our resilience. It depends on our expectations and how we cope with difference and change and it depends on the understanding of others.
The farmer’s wife brought scones for morning tea. She’d used bi-carb soda instead of flour, but it was a lovely gesture.