I was a fort builder when I was young. I built homes in nooks and crannys that land developers of the present day could only dream of with the simplest materials known to man. Mattresses propped up against a wall in the spare room or, weather permitting, Mum’s 60’s coral pink and faded peach printed sheets strung up in one of the apple trees on the front lawn and so, seeing my evident finesse for property development, my Mother and Father invested in a dolls house for me one Christmas. Dad, a stickler for perfection, was to paint an undercoat for it and construct the bare bones of the place, while my job was finding appropirate furnishings for this mansion to be. I had it all planned. There were twelve rooms total which meant enough for five bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a laundy, formal dining, a living room, a library/ music room, AND a peach coloured ballroom. The peach coloured ballroom was to be my doll house’s crowing glory, so in the midst of purchasing a miniature white Victorian style sofa with mahogany cabriole legs and a matching coffee table, a burgandy lounge set, some small pots and pans and an oven (“they have to eat dinner somehow Dad!!”) I found in a model shop a teensy, tiny chandalier. The undercoat was painted, but unfortunatley the house was never assembled, the imaginary Lords and Ladies never received invites to their peach coloured ballroom dance, and the tiny chandalier never sparkled above the candlelight. However, hopefull and resourceful since childhood, instead of becoming bitter and going on strike from school until further doll house construction was underway, I began a Barbie phase.
Most girls I knew at school had a Barbie house, just the one, picked up from the candy-floss-pink aisle of the Warehouse, but me? Well, after the dissapointment of my original failed doll’s house, I dedicated an entire two metre square corner of my shared bedroom to Barbie and her partner Ken. “Barbie Corner,” as those in the know referred to it, was an oasis; a veritable paradise for the unchanging faces of my dolls, and in Barbie Corner my plastic playmates came to life. Barbie Corner was a big enough for me to sit in on the moss green carpet of my bedroom as my bookshelf became a multi-storey apartment complex, green storage boxes became rooftop garden spaces, and under the desk in my room I blu-tacked hammock for my Barbies to rest. Barbie Corner had a hairdressers, a local supurmarket, neighborhood controversy, and with my Picasso like felt tip pen skills I would sometimes draw a circular yellow sun and relocate Barbie Corner to Brazil for the weekend. Were the hours spent in Barbie Corner to be bound into a book they would no doubt surpass in length the complete Lord of The Rings Trilogy, including the Hobbit, and should they be made into a film there would have been more sequels than the Rocky films. Sylvester Stalone would not have been cast as Ken though, perish the thought. Eventually though, my family moved and Barbie Corner packed up tent, the rooftop gardens became plain green storage boxes again and my dolls were laid to rest in our new house’s attic. But with this evidence in view I can quite honestly say that since childhood, I have been a nester. I can’t verify, but likely within the womb there were bowls of pot-pourri on the table and probably a few framed pictures on the mantle aswell. So, on the precipice of moving out of the first life size nest, the first house sized Barbie Corner that my two best friends and I have built over the last two and a half years, I find a pause for commemoration to be necessary.
Six months after my best friend and I accidentally ended up permanently moving to Australia and sharing a bed so that our new flatmate-come-family-member could move in to a matchbox sized flat with us, we ran through the empty hallways of this beautiful old house laughing in disbelief at the sheer size of it.
“I can’t believe we live here!!” shouted Steve over his shoulder to me
“I know! OUR HOUSE ECHO’S!!” I shouted back
And since that day on September 5th, 2010 this house has echo’d with the sounds of three young adults bursting at the seams with the spectrum of experiences and challenges that life brings forth.
We live in the most beautiful street in the suburb in one of the most elegant homes. Our street is lined with picket fences in dreamy hues like sea-foam green, duck-egg blue and lemon-meringue which are caressed by flower gardens of English Roses, petunias, pansies, rambling rosemary bushes, pommegranate trees and daisies that find sanctuary here in Hawthorn. It’s the kind of street you’d accidentally turn down on the way somewhere and one of the passengers in your car would look out the window and say “oh it’d be beautiful to live along here one day.” I know my neighbours by name, and last year when we watered their garden while they were on holiday we joyfully collected not only their mail – but free groceries from their weekly delivery. My neighbours get groceries delivered. In cardboard boxes packed to expansion with capsicums, carrots, potatos and pineapples and even a rock-mellon one time. These people get rock mellon,delivered.
Our house is large and long with wooden floors and firplaces (plural) and we have high ceilings that make you feel as though you could grow to be twelve feet tall and still not reach the roof. Our house has central heating that makes you feel like you’re in Tahiti in the middle of Winter, and a bathroom with a floral tiled vanity and gold taps. Oh, run out of money? No worries guys, lets just sell the faucet and buy new money with our gold taps! No big deal. On one occasion, showing a friend around after we had just moved in, he recoiled upon peering into the lavatory, “you guys are gonna crap in THAT?” he exclaimed in disbelief. Friends, it is safe to say the term “throne-room” was coined shortly after taking a leek in our exquisite loo. We have acousticly perfect hallways, separate living and dining (I’ve been reading Real Estate blurbs) a backyard which smells like Jasmine in spring and a bathtub that feels like a swimming pool when you fill it up just right.
I love this house.
I’ve cried in this house, shouted at the top of my lungs with giddy delight in this house, and I have made out in this house then bashfully pretended like nothing happened the next morning, making cups of tea in the kitchen half drunk on romance. I’ve seen my flatmates on dates in this house… and found reasons to leave the house soon after; because I am a good flatmate/wingwoman, and each of us has sulked in the living room together about how “boys / girls SUCK.” We’ve scrubbed this house’s floors, washed it’s shower and shined it’s windows. We’ve seen furniture come and go and wheeled shopping trolleys full of hard rubbish to the gate in the middle of the night to redecorate. This house has heard cello’s and violins and harmonicas and harmonies and every type of guitar under the sun played every way you could imagine. It’s listened to months of album pre-production, and a million silly songs sung about how delecious dinner will be once Grace and Steve have finished cooking, and I may commence eating. This house has seen loved ones come and go, helped people move countries, reuinted old friends, and been called a “home,” by almost everyone that has come through the door. I have seen this home strippied of it’s security when it was robbed last year, and miraculously, time and time again I have seen this house, this home, rebuild. It wished me luck as I did my first big voyages alone through the middle of Australia and to New York, and tucked me in swollen and sore after I got my first tattoo. It’s walls have neither judged, nor questioned us in our comings and goings, and it has stood strong for us each when perhaps we have felt shaky.
You know that house that you go to and leave feeling like you’ve just been to your parents and your love tank is full? We’re that house.
Though I love this house, the green one just after the third speed-bump smack-bang in the middle of the street from either direction, simply for the way it looks and feels and smells and sounds, for it’s architecture and design… I love it more for it’s true foundations. For the love and friendship which has been shared between it’s three point five (lest we forget the dog) inhabitants for the last two years. You could go back and re – read that last paragraph replacing “this house,” with the names “Grace and Steve,” for a more accurate description of what I really love about this place, and so as our lease ends in just shy of eight weeks and we each tackle moving out and finding new flatmates you can maybe see why I started writing this in February.
Because people like Grace and Steve, and puppies like Jimmy, and houses like this one in Hawthorn don’t come around every day. And when they do, they deserve to be recognised and praised from the rooftops with megaphones, fireworks, and silly string.
A house may be built with wood and steel, but a home? A home is built with love. From the foundations deep in the ground, to the bric-a-brac on the mantle and the pictures on the wall, a home is made, furnished, and renovated with love and it is, for a large part, because of Steve and Grace that I have learned a little about the love that is required to build a home. I feel so indescribably honoured and humbled to have shared in this experience of creating a family with the first two people I ever shared a house with that didn’t by law have to share a roof with me.We moved in as three young adults and leave as two sisters and a brother with more love shared in the two and a half years we have spent together than some people will know in a lifetime, and by this I am humbled beyond words.
“So why move out? You dickhead,” I hear you say.
Well quite simply, because we need change. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be who you always were, and though who we are now in this house is wonderful; I know that for each of us there is so much more. I never imagined that the thought of moving suburbs could be scarier than moving countries which felt like such sinch – and in that I take great delight. To have been able to live with people of such tremendous character like Grace and Steve who would encourage me to live in such a way that I would feel the need to grieve the change of season which has been the last two and a half years of my life? My God, I am the luckiest person alive when I pause to think like that.
With all change there is a sense of loss, I will miss Steve’s car arriving in the middle of the night and the pitter patter of Jimmy’s feet along the wooden floors. I will miss Grace’s cooking and hearing her singing through the bedroom wall long after I myself have unplugged my guitar. I will miss bulk toilet paper and never knowing where the effing glad wrap is because one of us always has a new tattoo that needs to be wrapped up. I will miss instigating group hugs on the sofa and how you both pretend to hate it, but really die a thousand deaths of delight and go straight to snuggle heaven because you really are as cheesy as I am beneath the beards and the stretched ears (Steve has the beard, just for clarification). I’ll miss calling each other babes a thousand times a day and I will miss my windowsill that in spite of being really a little bit too small, I still perch in when I just don’t know what to do.
I’d like to say I’m someone who loves change, but I think I’d more accuratley be described as someone who loves adventure. Adventure is sexy. Adventure is something we pursure and hunt down. Change however? Change is hideous at first glace. Change is frumpy and gruff, wearing sackcloth and ashes… while Adventure is racing fabulously through the streets dressed in Gucci, or nothing at all. Bob Dylan says “the only thing constant is change,” and sometimes it’s big and happens in the space of a flight, but sometimes you barely notice it until it’s crept right up behind you to scare you half to death. However, it will come creeping, I can promise you that, and you can re-arrange your bedroom, turn the living room upside down or throw out your old crying sweater… but eventually, you have to give way to it. Because with change – comes new life. And if these last couple of years are anything to go by, we should all be more excited than ever about what’s coming in the future.
Grace and Steve, you are my biggest hero’s and for the last few years – Living The Dream has been living with you both. Sometimes I feel the world could dissolve overnight, and if the home we’ve built with one another as family were to stand I would still feel as though I stood on solid ground, and had more than enough. So thankyou. Thankyou for being born, thankyou for being exactly who you are, and thankyou for loving me exactly as I am. We always said we would Live The Dream, and now with matching tattoos to remind us to do it, and a bond that though at first forged through bills and dishes and rubbish nights, but now goes much deeper than that, we move on to leap into new dreams. We will make jeans and record albums and write lengthy pieces of poetry and prose. We will tour and travel and make new memories and smooch dreamy dreamboats (and dreamboatettes) and we will all go out for coffee when we’re done, and still call eachother “babes.”
To Grace and Steve’s future flatmates , you are so lucky. There are seven billion people in the world… and none are quite like them. Invest in getting to know them, because whatever the quality is above diamond: they’re that. Trust whatever Grace cooks for you, even if it appears to be made of nothing at all and make sure you use words like “moist,” around her. Don’t be too afraid of Steve’s car, and for the love of God, let him buy the toilet paper; no one has a nose for a bulk bargain like he does. Ask them for advice too, and when they give it – listen. They are both incredibly wise.
And to my new flatmates, I hope you like to laugh… and you’ll warm up to the group hugs, I promise.