Paul and I used to talk about buying our first home together. He would insist it had be a ‘fixer upper.’ In my head, the sort of house Paul wanted was a dilapidated building where the walls barely had the strength to keep the house upright, the kitchen bench had cigarette holes burnt into it, the bathroom was tiled in a bright baby blue and the carpet was still the original from 1960- something. I’m sure this was a complete exaggeration of what Paul had in his mind but it was still very different from the type of house that I wanted for us. I wanted the modern and stylish home that my friends would be envious of. My kind of house didn’t need fixing up but it would allow for Paul to build his own mancave or shed down the back where he could tinker away at his bike or build me a shelf.
The great Aussie dream of owning your own home seemed such a stretch for us. Kids came along, jobs changed and finances became harder to manage. Then, of course, the accident happened and mum let us move back to her house. I couldn’t imagine raising two kids on my own plus looking after the household PLUS overseeing Paul’s care. I was grateful to mum for allowing us to move back and have her house modified for Paul’s needs.
Mum’s house is huge. A 6 bedroom home on acreage in semi- rural outskirts of Sydney. I hated growing up in such a country area. We moved here when I was just 5 years old. The shops were far away, friends lived too far, school was too far and the school bus was the absolute worst. You had to drive to get anywhere. I couldn’t wait to get my drivers license. The day of my 16th birthday came around, I was sitting the test and eager to put those square yellow L plates on and start driving.
There were lots of good memories at mum’s house though. Lots of parties as mum and dad seemed to entertain every weekend. There was always something cooking on the spit- usually pig or lamb. All the men stood around the spit drinking beer whilst the women busied themselves in the kitchen preparing soups, salads, cakes; and no Balkan family gathering went without the famous party staple: sarma (cabbage rolls.)
Now that I’m older yet still sleeping in the same room I grew up in, I realise that mum and dad had the right idea going rural. Although I hated it as a kid, I’ve come to love the quiet and peacefulness that comes with country living. The neighbours are far away enough that they can’t hear you scream at the kids (and silently judge your parenting skills) and they certainly can’t hear the delicate or not-so-delicate passing of wind. You don’t have to awkwardly smile at your weird neighbours to be neighbourly and polite if you don’t want to.
Mum’s house saw 2 weddings and 4 funerals. It has housed the well and the sick. If the walls could talk (and thank God they can’t because mum would die if she knew half the stuff we got up to) they would tell you many stories hearing the tears of both grief and joy. There are also those tears from uncontrollable laughter coming from my sister’s room at night when we were mucking around gluing eyes to our chins and video recording our faces upside down.
Even now as I reminisce on some of the memories that mum’s house holds, I hope our next home will hold even more joy and an abundance of good memories that our kids will appreciate one day.
All good things have to come to an end and when mum decided to put the house on the market, I gave the memories of the house a big hug and said thank you. The time has come to start the next chapter. I’m so excited to start making new memories in our new home. The Aussie dream finally caught up to us and we have bought our first home. It’s not the delapitated, anorexic skeleton home of Paul’s dreams, it is the sort of fixer-upper I can handle on my own. It has the charm of a country cottage, the quietness of the semi- rural homestead, plenty of wriggle room for Paul and his posse of support and the best view from the upstairs balcony where you’ll find me meditating (and by meditating I mean sitting with my wine watching the neighbours like a total creep 😂😳)
Most importantly, I can totally picture our girls in fits of laughter at each others stupidity in our new house; making awesome memories.