Going Home, Going Home…

My Dad Ken loved photography and had a Super 8 movie camera when I was a child. These days, Smart Phones and all things digital are ubiquitous, but in the 1960’s and 70’s not everyone had cameras. So I am fortunate to have pictorial history of my early life, including “Moving Pictures”.

One such piece of archival celluloid depicts my exit from Burnside Memorial Hospital, 1 day old, accompanying my Mum, but in the arms of a nurse. (Either I was clearly very precious, or they wanted to ensure I was escorted off the premises). I was then handed to Mum – resplendent in pink dressing gown and slippers – for my first journey in our 1965 Nissan Cedric Station Wagon.

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The next frame sees me, in bassinet, being gently taken out of the car at home, with my two-year-old sister doing circuits and bumps on her new bike on the driveway nearby.

This was Home, where I was to continue to live for the first 24 years of my life.

Subsequently – as I am gradually detailing elsewhere – I met my now husband Neil, and for the second half of my life (to date) “Home” has been in a number of locations. In the United Kingdom: Plympton – Cambridge – Ruislip (West London) – Borehamwood (North of London). Then on return to Australia: South Brisbane – Ararat (Country Victoria) and currently Queensland’s Gold Coast.

So, since leaving my Family home in 1991, I have lived in rental or church housing. It is an odd experience, one I am used to now, but most people would find it very strange to arrive in a new town to begin a new job and, instead of the first order of the day being to choose somewhere to live, a house is presented to you.

You might remember there was an old “Far Side” cartoon that showed line-ups at the gates of both heaven and hell: at one, an angel saying, “Welcome to heaven. Here’s your harp.” At the other, a devil saying, “Welcome to hell, here’s your accordion.”

cartoon_harp_n_accordion

And so it is with “The Parsonage” or “The Manse.” “Welcome to (insert name of locality here)”. “Here’s your house.”

Good, bad or indifferent – Brown swirly carpet, tasteful new carpet, 80’s décor, Cracks in the walls, Recently painted, lots of storage space, very little space, Beautiful Rose Garden, Fruit Trees, No garden, grumpy neighbors, lovely neighbors – but it’s no choice. You appreciate and are grateful for what you are given.

But someone has been there before. (And sometimes they are still nearby). For example the lovely stone fruit trees in Ararat had been planned by a previous incumbent, now retired in the area. He still came around to lovingly prune them and tend to them. We enjoyed the succulent fruit.

But it reinforced the feeling of them not really being “ours”. And in various locations we have really wanted to do something with the décor, or garden or another aspects of the house, but demurred out of respect – that it was not our house, and/or the complexities of dealing with groups of people and the slowly grinding wheels of officialdom. (Scripture says: “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son”…he didn’t send a committee…. )

Recent visits to my birthplace, Adelaide, have been bittersweet. There is something beautifully refreshing to know a place so thoroughly that the car you drive seems to navigate itself. The knowledge of street names, twists and turns just seems to magically reappear from some deep corner of the memory. Likewise, not only sights, but also even specific sounds like apparently unique birdsong are stirringly familiar and “just right”, seeming to belong to the place itself.

But other associations belong, not to the geographical place, but to chronological time and our connection to it. The place, the feel, of Adelaide evokes, for me, not only times past but the people who were part of my life back then, few of whom remain permanently there. And, as much of my younger life was spent music-making, the lingering notes learnt, rehearsed and performed of the repertoire I played and sang ring in my ears.

In November 2014, I flew down for a weekend to attend my 30-year school reunion. (I could not believe all that time had passed since Year 12 in 1984). The function was good fun, and it was enjoyable to touch base with old friends and acquaintances, and to see where life had taken everyone. There was much catch-up and “small talk” as you would imagine.

Much more significant, for me, was that the organisers had tracked down and invited two former teachers, both of whom had been particularly significant to me – my senior Maths Teacher and my Year 12 English Teacher. I finally, very belatedly, had the chance to thank these men for the impact they had made on me as a teenager, and, freed from the constraints of the official Teacher/Student relationship, had free-flowing, humorous conversation and gave each a big hug – something I had wanted to do for years.

Adelaide 081Adelaide 090

Similarly, I recently reconnected with a significant Mentor and Inspiration who nurtured me through my, for various reasons, somewhat troubled University times. The years just melted away as we talked, shared and laughed together.

Again I was satisfied to have “gone back home”. And, to some extent, to have come full circle, to demonstrate that I had made some sort of success of my life in the intervening decades.

 

Another friend from Adelaide times, with a flair for Maths, calculated, on my recent birthday, that we have not seen or spoken to each other for exactly 50% of my life. (Since I left Adelaide in July 1991).

This gave me pause for thought – to think that Adelaide has not actually been “Home” now for half my life. And that for most of the first half I was a child.

So what, exactly, does constitute “Home” ?

There are numerous famous quotations that talk of “Home” notably:

“Home is where the heart is”. (Pliny the Elder)

“Home is the nicest word there is.” (Laura Ingalls Wilder) 

And, of course:

“There is no place like home.” (L. Frank Baum, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

Home is also a common theme in popular music. Tom Jones famously sang of “The Green Green Grass of Home”.

Tom Jones

During my rather peripatetic adult life, I have had to take seriously the immortal words of Pliny (and Jones!) – and set about making “Home” wherever I geographically found myself.

To focus on the place, the people, the family, to find a way to belong, to fit.

To not always be hankering after, or for, somewhere else.

To realise that there is also an important subtlety to “The Green Green Grass of home”…. Which is:

grass-is-greener-where-you-water-itGrass Green water pic

So, finally, at the end of last year, we chose and purchased a home of our own.

On the Gold Coast, in beautiful Queensland.

18 Riverpark

In the words of Kenny Guinn: “There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home”

And so it is proving, as we finally put down roots and have a greater sense of that permanence, of belonging.

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The Adelaide home where I grew up – as I left it in 1991.

As for my original “first home”, our former family home, after our Mum Carlein passed away in 2011, my sisters and I cleared out 50 years of goods, chattels and family history, and the house was put up for sale. We were reconciled to the possibility that a new owner may value the location more than the bricks and mortar, and raze the house itself to the ground. However, this has not happened.

I was fortunate to meet the new owner who has designed and is overseeing extensive renovations. She told me when she had first looked at the house she had felt that “there had been a lot of love here” and “felt the home had spirit, spirit which I wanted to retain while making it fresh and updated”. She was so lovely, and I felt so uplifted that my Dad’s vision from the 60’s would now carry through to another family in another generation.

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Our Adelaide Family home under Renovation by its new owners

As a last thought (Pastor’s wife as I am, after all…!) Christians speak of “A Heavenly Home”; of when leaving their earthly life, they are “Going Home”.

Jesus comforted his disciples, saying:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 (John 14: 1-7)

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Postscript:

Returning to Adelaide, somewhat wistfully invokes for me this old favourite by Barbra Streisand:

“Kiss Me In The Rain” 

I remember sitting on the front steps
Feeling the softness of a warm summer rain
I see the reflections of my mind
All the sadness all the pain

Visions of yesterday,
How fast they slip away
And though my dreams have come and gone
With one wish I can say:

Kiss me in the rain, and make me feel like a child again
Bring back all those memories
Kiss me in the rain, and make me feel like a child again
With the feeling that I get,
I don’t even mind if we get wet

And if I drift outside myself
Please don’t turn away
I’m searching for the innocence
I’ve lost along the way

Come join me in my fantasy
Step out of space and time
There’s only one thing left to do
So if you wouldn’t mind:

Kiss me in the rain, and make me feel like a child again
Bring back all those memories…
Kiss me in the rain, and make me feel like a child again
With the feeling that I get,
I don’t even mind if I get wet.

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