Oh I do find it so hard. We drive back across the Gippsland, the car filled with sand and salt, the fishing rod bobbing behind my head, and as the signposts declare fewer and fewer kilometres until we reach Melbourne, my spirits sink lower and lower. I never feel as if we are coming home. ”Home!” my cranky self-talk grumbles, ”I’m not coming home. I’m simply returning to that place where we live at the moment.”
I have even been known to burst into hot, fat tears when the road declares we are now on the Princes “Freeway” – as opposed to “highway”. See, when we are on the highway, there still seems to be the possibility that we might just turn around and head back to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. As opposed to freeway which screams “huge, busy, dirty, concretey megalopolis up ahead!”
We pull into our drive. The summer vegetable garden is completely dead. The grass is crisp and golden. Fast food wrappers have blown down my driveway. I have never eaten a Subway in my life and when in this mindset, find it infuriating that I have to climb into my garden beds to retrieve the detritus of other people’s bad habits. Don’t even mention the cigarette boxes and empty cans of beer that are tossed over our little front fence.
I unload the car straight away, keeping my sunglasses on and my lips firmly pursed. By the time night falls we’ve washed the last of the beach off, and it’s time for bed. Rambling through my head is a blogpost full of self pity and petulance.
But then, thankfully, a new morning arrives. I make tea. I sit at our lovely yellow kitchen table. I sigh. Perhaps I’ll scrub the kitchen floor. Yes, it surely needs it – in fact, I’m quite sure it’s been almost a year since I’ve scrubbed it. Horrors! I DO sweep it daily. Wipe up spills when they happen. Run the mop over it each fortnight. But it’s this hideous fake stone looking vinyl that has grooves almost as deep as the Great African Rift (well they certainly seem so to the mop!) and what with a prancing dog, Melbourne weather, and Boots who never remember to take off their outdoor shoes, that dirt just becomes EMBEDDED. After long enough, the dirty version even begins to look normal. And besides, there are so many better things to do than scrub the kitchen floor.
So I fold a towel for kneeling, fill a bucket with hot water (which is refreshed many, many, many times), gather the bathroom cleaner and scrubbing brush and get stuck into it. It’s incredibly satisfying – in that gross kind of way – watching the ground in grime disappear and the swirls of fake sandstone emerge.
And as I scrub, it feels more and more like home. The lovely, cosy, comforting sense of home I felt and adored before I headed east just two weeks ago. I even begin to look forward to all the busyness, excitement and pleasure of the new year starting up again. Before long, the kitchen is filled with the fragrance of dinner slow roasting in the oven. After several hours of back-aching work, mostly everything is sparkling and fresh and ours. Very soothing.
Before long, out comes the fabric and yarn – those wonderfully comforting friends. I bake muffins. I pore over newly arrived cross stitch patterns. I put the crazy (Abby thinks they’re creepy, and Julian is smiling patiently. Yes, I think they’ll be heading to the sewing shed pretty soon!) Dutch dolls I found in a Bairnsdale op-shop in the front window – they inspire a giggle every time I walk past them.
Yes, of course it’s home. This is where my lovely, funny, crazy Julian and Abby are. Silly Fu, and the manic chickens. A sweet little old house filled to bursting with Bootville. No it won’t be forever. But it is now and as the saying goes … ”Grow where you are planted!” Oh I will – just as long as there is a dirty kitchen floor to remind me :-)