Most people when they think of Tamworth, think country music and the festival held each January. I’m not a lover of country music… other than a little Johnny Cash. When I think of Tamworth, it’s of being 17 years old, and the 2 years I spent at boarding school.
When I started at Calrossy TCEGS in 1982, I was 16, a small country town kid, and an only child. For a while my psyche was hijacked by bouts of homesickness: one minute I was happy, the next I was wracked with an awful displacement. Then it stopped.
The next thing that happened was I gained weight. I had been a 3 sugars in tea and coffee person but at home in Murrurundi I was incidentally and continually active. Boarding school life was predominantly confined to the buildings and grounds. Weekdays we had morning sessions of physical exercise. I played town comp basketball. We walked to “town”. That was it. I also ate a diet designed around what would cheaply & sufficiently, rather than nutritiously, feed a couple of hundred teenage girls, which we supplemented with food from home and anything we could sneak from the kitchen or dining room… Weet-Bix sandwiches of peanut butter & honey being a favourite.
I acclimatised surprisingly quickly, assisted by being only an hour from home. I saw friends and family regularly. I enjoyed school, the art room, activities, my classmates and teachers. Being a senior I had a certain amount of liberty to leave the grounds, especially in my final year. It was a first taste of freedom and life away from my family.
Boarding school is the same as any situation where people spend a lot of time together… in a relationship, home, workplace… The quote “High school is very intense for everyone. But at a boarding school, because you’re there 24 hours a day, everything gets magnified” sums it up. I made good friends & have only good memories, and at the end of the 2 years, my tears of sadness to be leaving bookended those first tears of homesickness.