I must have been born under a wandering star, for I’ve spent my entire life moving. From country to country, from city to city, from suburb to suburb. The thing I’ve learnt along the way is that any move, no matter how big or small compared to other moves, is a big change.
Each move is stressful. Every, single one.
We are once again on the move and this time, we are leaving our sanctuary at Amaranth Cottage to ‘downsize’ into a smaller (easier to keep clean?) house in Half Moon Bay. Of course, I’m immensely grateful we managed to find a house we could rent that allowed pets and that the house is in a great location, but despite all of that gratitude I am still feeling discombobulated.
You see, I didn’t think that at this stage of my life I would be a) still renting and b) moving back into what is essentially a flat. I thought I would have the old family home at this stage and that the kids would bring their partners (and in time their kids) home to see us in our sprawling gently aging homestead. I’d greet them from the verandah and shoo them inside for a cup of hot coffee whilst various dogs and cats (and maybe a pony or two? It’s my dream after all!) would vie for their attention.
That’s the problem with dreams; you wake up. And when you do you find yourself in a quickly renovated 1970s wonder that recently sold for $1.2 million dollars. Oh, and you’re renting. Still. Gone are the views and the caw of the seagulls as they fossick for leftover sandwiches on the beach. Gone is the cottage garden that played host to native frogs and a variety of bird life (and a fair few mozzies, mind). Gone is the quiet. The sense of refuge. Of space where we could work things out and heal, just a little.
I suppose that’s why we’re moving again – are we healed?
Of course, it’s not been a dream. We’ve politely ignored the old lady’s ugly bits – the mouldy bits on her ceilings, the colder than the outside temp, inside, the painful kitchen and the laundry in a cupboard. We’ve quietly ignored that she faces the wrong way for the sun – though the views are stunning. We’ve ignored her stinky sub-floor and her clapped-out plumbing, oh, and the pool that is a blue painted money-pit. We’ve had some great times here and so we’ve managed to just forget those inconvenient truths. We let our minds swish past them, and think on Bailey’s last days cooling herself down in the pond, the Englishman’s gentle quest to save every last tadpole from chlorine annihilation and the Christmases spent swimming in our backyard at Little Bucklands Beach. The kids will no doubt remember fondly the sleepovers with their friends and filming school projects and quick trips to the local fish n chip shop for dinner.
But it’s time to go. Saying goodbye isn’t easy. When is it ever? Both of the older kids have left home for their own lives and we are left with a half empty nest. I keep expecting to see Bailey curled up in a corner, or to have to yell downstairs to ‘turn the music down and go to sleep’. But the house is quiet, now. Too quiet.
So, this week we pack up our memories into boxes and once again we shift; both literally and figuratively. We struggle to reimagine our belongings in a smaller space and to have the courage to say goodbye to things that no longer serve us. I’ve been reading up on decluttering and though I won’t be thanking my shoes for their service to my feet, a la Marie Kondo, I am attempting to let the old dream go.
There will never be an ‘old homestead’. It’s an impossibility in this time when the majority of us can no longer afford to own our own home. Failing a massive stroke of luck, I can’t see it will ever happen. I will no longer be able to nip outside and shoot an impressive sunset or sunrise, instead I will have to walk the dog to go and find one. Which will be good for me, after all.
The dream is gone. And as I pack boxes and organise movers and stress over what should come and what should be thrown away, I grieve its passing but quietly say thank you for the peace of this house and the time we’ve had here. It’s been a blessing, living here in Amaranth Cottage. Amaranth is a symbol of steadfastness and that’s the kind of grace we’ve been given here. It’s sunset now, the day is done. But there will be a new day, and new memories made.
And for that, and the memories of time here, I am so very grateful.