This was the first home that I ever owned and lived in, and it was glorious. Old carved-oak staircases winding up and dividing in two and winding some more. Hallways with stairs that go up two and down two again for no apparent reason. A Harry Potter-esque cupboard under the stairs. French doors, stained glass windows and a rickety upstairs balcony. There were tatty Persian carpets over the floorboards, left behind by the previous owner, and a truly hideous Medieval-style painting in vomit-tinted hues hanging over the fireplace in the dining room, that we kept up because it made us laugh.
The house was also icy and draughty in winter, and oppressively hot and prone to letting bugs inside in summer. It was dusty all the time, no matter how often you cleaned and vacuumed. The downstairs bathroom was too frightening to use (unless you were really desperate), and whenever planes took off or landed in nearby Sydney Airport, all the windows rattled and all conversations had to be put on pause.
Outside, we turned the little back courtyard into a garden with winding pathways and vegetables and flowering plants and vines. There was space for a table and chairs, and we would sit out there together on warm summer nights with a glass of wine to hand, and listen to the live music wafting across from the Warren View pub, just down the road. Until a plane flew over, blocking out all other sounds. Then, we would wave because, seriously, those planes were so close we were sure the passengers could see us.
Before we moved into this house, I lived out of our car for three months. Which is to say I didn't sleep in the car (there wasn't room - after a while I couldn't even drive the car because there was so much stuff in it), I just kept my things (and Mr B's things, and Emily's and Meg's things) in it while moving from place to place: hotels, hostels, short-term accommodations, while working every day an hour away in Sydney's west, and waiting. Waiting to buy a house, waiting for settlement so we could move into the house, waiting for Mr B to finally move down from Queensland, where he was still working. Waiting because I had crossed the world - again - and moved from New York to Australia to start a proper life with the man I loved and here I was with all my belongings in plastic bags (suitcases had long since stopped fitting in the car), alone, treading emotional water, and searching for home.
We only lived in that house for nine months. But in that time we hosted birthday parties and BBQs, my book was published, we got engaged, we planted vegetables (we harvested the vegetables, we ate the vegetables), we got married (in the back yard, witnessed by 40 of our closest friends and about 400 air passengers en route to some holiday or another), the house overflowed with summer house-guests, we rescued a cat. We loved we argued we laughed we planned we painted we explored we wove stories of us. I started to learn how to cook.
So much has changed since we lived at No. 10 (three more interstate moves! two babies!), and often I feel like the me that lived inside that house was somebody else, somebody I read about inside a book. Could all this really have happened only three years ago?
Just before we moved, I had this snow globe made so that we could take it with us. It sits on the bookshelf of our family room now, where more often than not mess and chaos and all things children reign. And that seems fitting, because No. 10 was the first house I lived in that felt like a family home, since leaving the one I grew up in. It was while living in this house and spending so much time with Emily that I first began to think that maybe, just maybe, I might like to be a mother after all...
“Little Things” is an occasional series about the stories behind some of the little things you’ll find around my home. Are there stories behind the little things in your home? I’d love you to tell me about them! Or if you’d like to join in and write a post like this of your own, don’t forget to share a link to it so I can read it.