Twenty years ago when I bought a block of land and built a house with my then-husband I knew it wasn’t the house of my dreams: an old house with verandahs, tin roof and rainwater tanks, like a nanna’s house.
Au contraire, it was a modern off-the-plan, brick veneer, tile roofed house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living areas, double garage and a deck, set in a native bush yard in subdivision situated an urban area of the Central Coast of NSW, overlooking glimpses of a lake and the ocean in the far distance.
I lived in that house for nine years with then-husband, two cats and a dog. I gardened, worked, commuted to the city, hosted dinners, barbeques, parties and Christmases. Family & friends came to visit or stay almost every weekend.
All the while my dream house waited.
The cats and dog spent their last years there as I promised them they would. However, when they were gone I set myself free and moved back to the city where I worked. After a while the G.O. came to live with me in a tiny apartment where we had not much space nor time for those other things that make a life. Except a dream staked on the old house we bought together ten years ago in a village in the hinterland of the Nambucca Valley.
The G.O. had originally purchased our house with his then-wife several years before I set eyes on it. Despite being told it was a ‘knock-down’ he stripped, rebuilt, painted and gave the old house a new life. I visited it once, briefly, during the early stages, a couple of years before he nearly had to let it go along with the life he’d had there.
But as fate unfolded its enigmatic plans by the time I’d sold my still-new house the opportunity presented itself for the G.O.’s lovely old lady of a house with wide verandahs, tin roof and rainwater tanks to become mine too.
When I saw it with fresh eyes on my second visit, I knew it was the nanna’s house of my dreams; the house where there’d be homemade biscuits in a tin, loose tea leaves in a jar, teapots with woolly covers, cups & saucers & floral pattern plates, shelves of books read but undusted, scattered bibs & bobs from various times & places, well-loved comfy furniture, geraniums in the front garden, veges & a hills hoist in the back, family pictures in the china cabinet, a cat sleeping on a chair, creeping sunshine, quiet afternoons and elastic time.
“And so, onwards… along a path of wisdom, with a hearty tread, a hearty confidence.. however you may be, be your own source of experience. Throw off your discontent about your nature. Forgive yourself your own self. You have it in your power to merge everything you have lived through- false starts, errors, delusions, passions, your loves and your hopes- into your goal, with nothing left over.” Friedrich Nietzsche