Coming full circle

It’s been over a month since we arrived in Canberra. I expected to be blogging sooner but our Internet connection got screwed up and we had to wait. So this was drafted on my phone and finished over the weeks after our Internet was connected.

The move itself was insane. An interstate move is hard enough without hiring your own truck and having few volunteers to help load and unload. We really struggled to get people to help, due in part, I think, to my inability to embrace Sydney as home and make friends. Those who ended up coming to help were amazing! We planned four hours to load, meaning we’d be in Canberra for unloading at 3pm, but it took a lot longer, over two hours longer actually, which meant the truck, with Mr Chewbacca and our good friend S in it, arrived in the dark! The house at least has good heating, and we had a few movies on a USB to plug into the tv and stare at while we wolfed down pizza and beer before passing out. Dude ended up being in bed two hours after his bedtime. It was awful having to pull the mattresses and bedding out of the truck in the dark.

Packing and unpacking boxes is a thankless task!
Packing and unpacking boxes is a thankless task!

The next day I roped a couple of people into helping with the unloading which was easily done in an hour while I fiddled about trying to locate the coffee machine and get caffeine into everyone. What an ordeal! Yes, we saved a lot of money that we really haven’t got, given we’re both unemployed, but I can guarantee I won’t be attempting that again. It was made extra hard by needing to clean the new place before we could put stuff away. We’re only now finally unpacked, with a couple of near-empty boxes still floating about.

I am so glad to be out of Sydney! Despite the fact that we still have no income and we can finally see just how great a renovation job we’ve got to face, it feels good to be here. The weather has been great, some frosts and cool, crisp days, and we’ve been doing a bit of exploring. I’ve even been going for walks around the neighbourhood, which is something I never did when I lived here before. It feels great to exercise again (more on that aspect in my next post) and I’ve realised more and more just how strangely familiar this move is for me.

When I was two going on three, the same age as Dude is now, my parents and I moved to Canberra from Sydney. My dad was to get a job in the public service. We moved in with friends who had raved about how great Canberra was for kids and had relocated there a few years previously. I have vague memories of being there in those early days, and I’m pretty sure I had my third birthday there. Our friends had two huge German shepherds that would run around and up and down the stairs that led down to the back yard, stairs that seemed to go on forever. I once slammed my ring finger in the thick, oak front door. Blood was everywhere and my finger is very different from its counterpart on the other had to this day. My mum was more upset than me, I think. Somehow she thought if I were let to run wild a bit I’d be damaged. Or something like that anyway. The other kids, three of them, with the middle boy being my age, were louder and more outgoing than me. I think back and wonder whether I’d be more outgoing now if it weren’t for being cushioned. I don’t know.

My blurry photo of the first house I ever lived in Canberra
My blurry photo of the first house I ever lived in Canberra

Earlier this week, on the first of my energetic walks, I walked to this first house I ever lived in Canberra. Coincidentally, it is only about 40 minutes walk from our current house. Typical me, I still remember the address despite not having been there in at least 25 years. I wheeled the stroller containing a sleep-fighting dude along the complex network of walking paths that extend across most Canberra suburbs, through the awesomely convenient tunnels under the main roads (they used to seem scary to me as a child; now they’re just very convenient, although I often expect them to smell like stale urine. Most don’t actually). I ended up approaching through a cul-de-sac, where some other kids our friends knew used to live. I won’t ever forget watching Dirty Dancing at that house, after being forbidden to watch it by our mums. I think I must have been about eight. The cul-de-sac leads into what used to seem like a huge park in a massive expanse of empty land. It wasn’t as big as I remember! I walked past where there had been swings once. Huge boulders that seemed even bigger when I used to climb them still lay as if scattered by some giant.

I turned right onto the street and the house was next to me. It was pretty much exactly the same, albeit smaller and a little more overgrown with trees and hedges. I wanted to stop and snap a photo but felt like whoever lived there now could see me, so I just pointed my phone in the general direction and took a picture without stopping. Hence the pointless image above.

One of Canberra’s many footpath underpasses – Dude loves them, he shouts ‘echo!’ as we go underneath

As I walked up what used to seem like the steepest hill in the world, I thought that this move to Canberra, while great, is definitely not a permanent one. I now have a new-found love for this place and I will always love it as my home town but I think we need to do what we came here to do and move on to Melbourne where we can start fresh. In addition to my lingering need to get a feel for life in Melbourne and hopefully settle there permanently, I have this uneasy, suffocating feeling about repeating history by staying here. There are too many similarities between our move and my parents and mine over 30 years ago and while I’m eternally grateful to whatever force caused my parents to leave Sydney, many of the things that happened in Canberra to my family were not great and I don’t want any possibility of any more history repeating itself. There’s more to say, but I’ll leave it at that.

So after a brief chat with Mr C, the decision has been made to prep the house for sale and blow this Popsicle stand as soon as we can. So much more to do yet but at least we have a plan!

One aspect of many that we need to do with at our Canberra place – the back yard. This is actually part way through the work we’ve done to date, which involved removing 40-year-old Banksia roses that were so overgrown, they were starting to collapse the fence. We’ve now planted cypress trees around the fence which will eventually grow into a high hedge.

A lesson in inner peace

When it comes to organisation, honesty and living a peaceful life, I don’t have a very good track record. In fact I don’t  have a very good family history either. My family on both sides were immigrants and this upheaval, coupled with a lot of emotional complexity and layers of issues never being addressed has made for a very tumultuous and messy life. Not that I’m blaming my genealogy or family for my inability to sort out my life, far from it, but I feel that has made it hard for me to know balance and learn how to be in a harmonious way.

Trying to find an image that just showed something beautiful, I found this one I took of a roof in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2008. I'd just discovered the sepia setting on my camera. Not much to do with the post but it's beautiful, don't you think?
Trying to find an image that just showed something beautiful, I found this one I took of a roof in Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2008. I’d just discovered the sepia setting on my camera. Not much to do with the post but it’s beautiful, don’t you think?

I tend to be pretty neurotic, and I have a very lazy side. So if there’s a problem in my life – a big bill arrives that I can’t afford, I need to handle a delicate relationship situation, or I need to motivate myself to address something practical – I wimp out. I procrastinate. I don’t just stuff about for a while and then eventually do it. No, I leave it until it’s really hard to deal with, and then I end up being screwed over. So I leave the bill until I’ve been sent a final notice and a whole lot of interest has been piled on and my credit is ruined; I don’t confront the delicate situation and end up pissing everyone off even more because they think I don’t care because I never said anything; I leave the cleaning til the last minute so it’s impossible to do it in the time I have and end up feeling overwhelmed by it all and everyone sees just how much of a lazy grot I am. And in turn, I feel slack, tired, and like life is a hard slog.

You could say it all comes down to motivation and discipline, which is true, but there’s another layer beneath that: why don’t I have the ability to motivate and discipline myself? It’s hard to work that one out, but I think it’s my basic disposition coupled with influences growing up. I often lament the fact that I have no passions, nothing gets me going. But writing is a passion, right? Yeah, but when I’m in a slump, even the prospect of writing or reading isn’t enough to pull me out of it. Nothing fuels my passion. These days I know that’s actually a form of depression, that feeling of hopelessness and lack of any meaning in life. But I think I’m moving past that, especially since having my son and being forced into routines, being given no option for slacking off. And in turn, because I’m forced into action, I feel better and I want to do more.

On the weekend I was at my friend J’s house. I hadn’t seen it in over a year and was absolutely blown away at how much work they’ve done to it and how beautiful it is. J has put so much energy into making that space beautiful and exactly what she wants in every respect. Obviously there is always more to do in any house, but clearly this house has had every detail attended to, and because of this it is the most relaxing space I’ve been in. It is light, bright, comfortable, convenient, aesthetically pleasing and a genuine pleasure to be in. I guess it helps that J and I have similar taste, although I think I found it so lovely to be there simply because she’d taken care of every detail. I just wanted to freeze time and stay there in that perfectly comfortable space with good friends and amazing food forever.

I was so inspired, and being there made me realise for the first time just how much I’m longing for my own space. In 2005, when I bought my  house in Canberra, I finally did have a space with which do whatever I wanted but the depression didn’t let me do everything. I couldn’t see my way clear to making it amazing and a lot of time was wasted eating icecream and watching crap tv. I did things to improve the house, but they were mainly superficial and a little slap dash. Maybe it was a lack of maturity as well but there was a lot left undone in that house, and I’ll soon be paying for it and my general neglect of it since I rented it out nearly six years ago now. It’s another element of my life that has suffered as a result of my neurotic laziness and bouts of depression. Interestingly enough, when looking for a post to link as an example of my low moments, I read through this one and realised I’ve come so far since then and my life is no longer like that. Working at home a few hours most days helps, but somehow, something has really shifted.

This year, for the first time in my life, I feel as if things are really changing. There are a few factors affecting this, but getting out of debt is one of them, as is my new-found ability to motivate myself to actually do things instead of just think or talk about them. I’ve wanted to do this for many years but I think this time there are extrinsic motivators where there were previously none. My son, my family, my husband, my maturity, my increasingly positive outlook, these are all things that are moving me towards a new phase of life. And what better age than 35, which is what I’ll be this year in October. I love it when things sync with the seven year cycle!