I married at age 19. It was 1991 and it most certainly was not because it was what I was supposed to do. It was more likely because it was I wasn’t supposed to do. Marriage as an act of rebellion. Why not?
Rebellion is even too strong a word. As a piece of performance art – very possibly. Not because I was bored – I wasn’t. Not because I came from ‘a bad home’ – I didn’t. In truth, right then I really loved the fella. I could see us doing everything together (possibly not great in retrospect but ain’t hindsight grand). He was my best friend. I felt very much myself with him. I liked myself with him. I liked who I was, how I felt and acted. It was comforting to be with him. I enjoyed his company one on one and also in groups. I didn’t anticipate any insurmountable problems.
I grew up very much in middle suburbia. The house I grew up in was built for my parents in a court where all the houses were completed in a similar period of time, many with young families. There were lots of kids running around that my two brothers my sister and I could choose to play with. The court had a gentle and a steep incline that we could skateboard, ride our bikes as well as a large round flat area at the head of the court on which play all types of ball games. There was even a large vacant block which provided many abseiling, climbing and cherry eating adventures. It was the era before gluten free, nut free and ethically produced snacks. When you look at it, those cherries we pulled off the trees were locally sourced, organic, nut free, gluten free snacks. I never felt my parents were hovering over us watching our every move, though I’m not saying the large lounge room windows that looked smack bang out onto the middle of the court never saw my mum’s eye.
I attended the local primary school following in the footsteps of my three older siblings, sometimes literally as we walked the 700m to school. I had to use Google maps to check how far and how long the trip took because I couldn’t have guessed if we took 10 or 20 minutes to get to school. Google maps says 9 minutes, for the record. It was, in general, a perfect neighbourhood primary school. It backed on to the local park which had a large, shallow, muddy lake to one side. Certain teachers would use this convenient resource to ground our learning in the real world.
I remember once being chosen to be on the committee of kids to tour other local schools and test out their play equipment for our newly proposed adventure playground. It was such a prestigious position. Kids were chosen from each year level to survey the equipment, shortlist particular pieces and which were then put to the school council to finalise. At least, that’s how I remember it. Imagine the excitement of being let out of class, whilst your fellow students had to stay inside completing some scholarly exercises. All the time, we were ferried around a few local schools to play on their equipment whilst their students were also in class. One rocketship/tunnel/fort – no waiting!
We played sport on weekends. We took regular holidays around country Victoria with all 6 of us piled in the car. As I was the youngest and the smallest, I usually was stuck on the front bench seat between mum and dad. I do recall straining my neck trying to be part of whatever was going on in the back. As we got older, my parents bought a beach house on the Mornington Peninsula opposite the area where we’d always camped each summer holidays. The afternoon of December 25, we’d pack up the car and drive the 90 minutes or so down to the beach house. Of course, summers then seemed almost endless. Not returning home until the start of February, days and dates lost their significance. It was only the weather that would shape the day’s activity schedule.
There were boats to be sailed, boats to go fishing from and boats to take on trips out around the bay. There were walks up to the lighthouse, if you only wanted a little walk or up to the pier if you wanted exercise or a chance at a private conversation. Plenty of scrub to hide and muck about in. Wet weather days meant jigsaws, books from the everchanging in and out bookshelf or maybe a trip out to the movies or bowling. There was a great little book store called The Hole in the Wall where they sold and bought second hand books for a couple of dollars. It was cool in the dark recesses of this tiny space. So many books piled high with hand written labels on the shelves letting you know if the section was Western Adventures, Biographies or Mills and Boon Romance novels (bleurgh). The shop even had its own particular smell.
To be continued