I find myself sitting on the couch after a long week of sitting on the couch. Yesterday I went for an interview, and I received the follow up call this morning. “We thank you for the time you’ve taken to come and meet with us, unfortunately on this occasion we won’t be proceeding to the next stage.” I can feel the tears welling behind my eyes. I can feel my throat tighten. Now as I sit here on the couch scrolling through Seek.com.au and any other job opportunities I’ve been referred, with The Lord Of The Rings playing in the background, I feel my heart aching for home again.
On Monday it was my Grandad’s 80th birthday. Much like Bilbo Baggins was saying, we have a love of peace and quiet, and good tilled earth, a love of things that grow (I dunno, maybe we are Hobbits). When I’m feeling worn down, out of spoons, and out of luck, home is the place that fills me up again. I flew down on Friday night and back again on Sunday afternoon. How I wish I had known before the flights were booked, I would have spent the whole week there.
My brother called my on Friday afternoon, and said to get dressed ready to go out when I got there. My friend and roommate Steph had caught an earlier flight and was waiting for me to arrive. So I change out of my jeans and sweatshirt into something less “aeroplane attire” and more “party all night”. The rest of the passengers were all a little taken aback I can imagine. But, I’ve always said, better to be overdressed for any occasion. #OwnIt. “The eagle has landed,” a quick text to my brother and he was waiting to pick me up. So, out in town we go. I lived here for a few years before moving away. I remember why I left..
Early on Saturday morning I am up and ready to go. The drive back home is an hour down the highway, lined with bushland and canefarms. Everything is saturated green and blue. They’re the most vivid colours I’ve seen all year. I think to myself “this is the road home, every time, for my whole life, this is the road home.” This is the bridge I will cross every time. There is no way around it. This in the only crossing on this river unless you drive 6 hours inland to detour. This bridge means I’m 5 minutes from home. You can see my Grandad’s farm on the from the other side.
Turning into our driveway is one of the best feelings in the world. Walking across the yard, through the gate and into the house – retracing my own steps from a thousand times before. Grandad is already here with my older brother. Mum welcomes me at the door. Dad isn’t far off. We are all sitting out under the back roof, overlooking the backyard, the chicken pen beyond the fence, the canfields past that, and up into the blue horizon. Steph is already allergic to the place, covered in bites and rashes and dog scratches. You can take a girl out of the city..
There’s a 1945 resorted Jeep Willy in the shed that I’ve been telling Steph about. I’m pretty sure actually this is her main motivation for coming here in the first place. So we take it out for a ride around the farm. Crikey. The breaks aren’t good, and power steering didn’t exist in the 40’s. It’s a tough drive. We may have got it bogged in some mud on the headlands too, but the important thing is, we got it out. 3 dogs, 2 girls, 1 jeep. We did alright. We made it back to the farm with time to wash the mud off our legs and get ready for the night.
Soon the family starts arriving, coming in twos and threes, until I am encompassed by a feeling of love like a warm blanket in the cold night. Grandad is wandering around his party taking photos with his phone, I can already tell every single one of them will have his blurred finger shadow in the corner. Bless. He is capturing his legacy – a happy family. I wish I could say we are all here, but we’re not. There are 2 cousins missing. Sisters. They didn’t make the trip. I guess they are too young or too stubborn to appreciate the significance of tonight. I can see it in his eyes, if only they would have been here, they would have been forgiven. Love is all my grandad has to give, there is no capacity for malice in his kind heart.
It’s time for the speeches. My Dad gets up to say some kind words, my Aunty also does as well, the only daughter. My younger brother has nice things to say. Our youngest cousin says she loves her family. They all look to me. I’m drunk on Pimms and high on dopamine. I stand next to him in front of our whole family. I tell him that I love him, and between him and dad, you’ve shown me the measure of a good man. I don’t know if it was enough, but it was the truth. After the cake was eaten and the dessert was cleaned up, the celebrations for the night are over, but not the fun. Steph is sitting in her chair curled up on her knees, “Why don’t you go to bed if you’re tired honey? It’s been a big day,” my mother says. I know why she’s still here. We’ll be damned if we let any 80 year old party goers outlast us.
The next morning is something special. The family comes around for leftovers lunch today, and it’s much more relaxed. I soak in this time just listening and being near them. One uncle has flown in from Perth with his daughter, another from Brisbane with her husband and daughters. Even the ones that live just down the road from our farm, I hardly see them too. I look around and count the many ways I am happy to be here. But it’s over too soon. Steph and I have a plane to catch so we have to pack and leave much too prematurely. Saying goodbye is always the hard part. “When will you be back?” “You can always come and visit us in Perth” “Be sure to drop by whenever you like” “I look forward to seeing you here again”. Then all too soon, we are back in our apartment with our bags dropped on the floor thinking how quickly that weekend went.