Story telling from Australia
Right now, Sydney feels more like a desert than Broken Hill ever did. It’s not of course, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a desirable place to live for millions of people, some of them willing to risk their lives in leaky boats on treacherous seas in the hope they might one day end up here. And it’s not like I didn’t know I was moving.
Last week I was living on the edge of a pristine natural environment. A five-minute drive from home led to open desert and red earth, sculpted and smoothed by wind and rain. Each day’s walk revealed something new – a kangaroo raising its head in the distance, emu tracks that weren’t there the day before, stones that had shifted, mud that had hardened, patterns in the sand that changed as we walked past, the way the light fell on certain rocks, the wind on my face, or still air pressing close and always, whatever the weather, a big empty sky above. Something about the place suited me.
Having spent time enveloped by the comforts of silence, open space, solitude, and the hitherto unknown joy of living with someone, I’m finding Sydney a bit of a shock. I drove to a hardware store yesterday to buy pegs, hooks, wood glue and a decent sized broom. It took three quarters of an hour and involved fourteen sets of traffic lights. There’s little sense of peace and tranquillity as the madness of a big city swirls around me.
I unpack boxes, fighting a cold that makes me want to lie down and do nothing, and I reach for things that bring comfort as they emerge from dusty boxes – a teddy bear I gave a favourite aunt as she lay dying, the barometer Grampy was given when he retired, Uncle Jim’s letter opener, Mum’s Toby jug and the lamps Dad always had lit in the sitting room at Christmas. I succumb to the cold eventually and lie in bed eating hot buttered toast and drinking a mug of tea, ignoring the boxes and listening to the irregular tick of an alarm clock from the 1950s. It has to be wound each night and it loses ten minutes a day but no matter. The sound is as comforting as music.
And I find solace in the company of friends who live around the corner, just like I found comfort and joy in the friendship that was so freely offered in Broken Hill. I know I will enjoy living here it just takes some getting used to.
It will only be when Clyde arrives, and then Maggie, that this beautiful house will feel like a home.