Sunday, January 26, 2020

Post Three Hundred and One: Softening

The cat breathes, her exhale making a throaty sound. A syncopated humph. The smooth swoosh of a car as it passes outside. From the sound of it, there's still the sweat of summer rain on the road. 

It feels like a nice time to time travel. 

My first home that I remember clearly was the one my parents bought in Wanneroo, Western Australia in 1988 after moving further out from the RAAF base. To this day I could draw you a map of the route from our home at 37 Belgrade Road to East Wanneroo Pre-Primary School. Mum worked there for a while as a cleaner, and being the youngest kid with my older sisters already in other schools, she'd take me to work with her. While she cleaned I'd draw on the blackboards and snoop through the children's desks. I stole stickers and stamps mostly. In fact, I also used to steal from Coles New World. I stuffed my Brownie Girl uniform pockets with a Golden Rough and a Mint Pattie once but fearing the retribution of my father if he ever found out, I returned them back to the shelf the very next afternoon. 

I hated school in Western Australia. I hated it because I hated Daniel Delborello, a five year old that wouldn't leave me the fuck alone. It's always been a challenge to be female, and even as a small child I have memories of understanding that men and boys were awarded many privileges that I would be told to suffer through. There was a boy that I did like, Christopher, who had hair as white as snow and golden skin, but he ended up pushing me out of a treehouse in that year before school and the fall broke my wrist. I don't think we saw much more of him again. It comes as no surprise that I loved my friend Carly more, and I assumed that I'd probably marry her one day if I couldn't get my hands on Ranger Stacey from Agro's cartoon connection.  

One day, I'd say in 1989, I decided that I'd had enough of life at home with my regularly combative family so I packed up my favourite knick knacks in a hankerchief and tied it to a stick. I'd seen Blinky Bill take a hike like this and I was confident that this was all I needed for a life outdoors. Out I went, up towards the school. "Mum better not find me when she goes to work" I said to myself. When I turned out of my street I looked back, thinking how sad it was that nobody yet knew that I was running away. Nobody ran out to stop me. So away I went, for hours, playing in the bush behind the school with all the beautiful kangaroo paw, the Xanthorrhoea and the Chamelaucium. 

I was even sadder when the sun went down and I made my way home. The rough life wasn't for me at five years of age. And no one asked me where I'd been or what I'd seen. It was then that I learned that I could ghost if I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, and in many ways this survival technique saw me through a number of difficult transitions. 


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