I'm a little emotional this morning. We are coming to the end of what has been an enormously long and taxing period of transition that started in November 2022 and will finish in two days (May 12, 2023) when I close the door for the last time on this house and make my way north to Dja Dja Wurrung country and our new life.
I think the moment Mum and I decided to sell it, The House at Porter Street stopped being "home" and became "this house": a huge millstone full of stuff and memories, all of which have needed to be managed in order to embark on the next stage.
So much has happened to bring us to now and as we approach the finishing line, I can't help but take deep breaths and reflect on it all.
Not to be overly sentimental, but saying goodbye to the last place we made memories with Dad is difficult. As I sit on the sofa now, facing the picture window with the almond tree filling the frame, I remember the peace of Dad as he watched the birds dance around its branches, stripping all the blossoms and any fruit it might produce. The almond tree was planted by the people who built this house 37 years ago and with a lifespan of 25-30 years (with peak productivity around 15 years) it is now on its last legs. I'm glad I won't be here to see the end of it.
News of my brother's death came to us in this house, an event that changed us all for ever. For me, the legacy was embracing and appreciating an identity, my identity, away from his shadow and influence, beautiful and impactful as it was. We also lost my two cats, Poppy and Bongo, who were the keepers of my sanity over 14 years, through injury and recovery, drug addiction and withdrawal, relationship disillusion, mental health breakdown and more. I loved them like children and they anchored me and gave me a purpose. And then there was Bean, the guineapig companion to our guineapig Nut who died on his their first birthday. The loss of Bean helped Nut emerge from his shell which is why we have never subsequently sought a companion for him. He's a happy wheeker now, a jaunty little man and we are so pleased he and his Nuthaus will be coming with us to our new world.
My son's boyhood has ended here: from ages four to 16. Is there ever a more transformative time? It's here too that I've learned to let go of hopes and expectations for the future and to live appreciating the moment that we have. The reality is with my PDA/ASD child, to do otherwise is cruel and creates unhelpful stress, isolation and regression. I've learned that.
I've spent these twelve years living with my Mum for the first time since I was 15 when my parents divorced and I went with Dad and my brother. Mum proposed cohabiting before Milo started primary school as she saw an opportunity to help provide a stability I couldn't achieve while Dad and I were renting (being forced to relocate is inherent in the life of the renter and I'd moved 22 times before Porter Street.) It was incredibly generous of Mum: an enormous sacrifice. She relinquished her home and in some ways her autonomy for our sake. That's not to say there weren't positives for us all, particularly when Hec died, but now that the time is up, it's impossible not to recognise and acknowledge all she's done for us. I really truly hope that her next chapter provides all that she needs for a wonderful ninth decade.
There's so much swirling around in my head. All the details and loose ends. It's actually a tad overwhelming. But I should say, I'm not afraid about the future at all. I am thoroughly excited and grateful for the opportunity it presents: my boy and me, with the pups and Nut, on the land, being the best versions of ourselves, doing all that we need to do. Life is a wonderful thing. And being able to appreciate each moment we have is a gift.