As well as the cats both carking it, or at least one carking it and one most likely carking it (still holding onto my slim – though increasingly desperate – hope that he’s taken up residence in another village), we’ve also sold our house in Yarraville. It’s like we’re going out of our way to sever all our ties with Australia. Except not, because obviously we would have dearly preferred to keep our catties. And with the house, about six months after we moved here, the inner-Melbourne market boomed and our greed was greater than our attachment to the house (which, having only lived there two years, wasn’t that high.) (Also, it backed onto a Cashies.) (Also, someone got stabbed to death in our local park shortly after we left. I’m pretty sure this was nothing to do with our leaving and everything to do with the endemic street violence problem exploding in Melbourne.)
So, we sold. As I say we didn’t have a great attachment to the house but then again there were some special moments and connections. It was the first house we bought together; where Rufus learned to walk and talk; the house we brought Zadie home to; but ultimately where we realised we needed more from life. In that sense I guess you could say it failed as a house. You could compare it to when you hear of someone who leaves their (heterosexual) marriage for a same-sex partner. The “leftee” must feel like they failed in their most fundamental identity. This is the house where we both felt the itch of needing more than domesticity. It absolutely wasn’t the house’s fault. It was a great house. It was more to do with having a 2-year-old and a baby, no childcare, and crushing financial responsibilities which resulted in a lifestyle that didn’t balance out the pleasures we had there.
A lot of my memories from this house are incredibly negative ones relating to the 12 months we spent there after Zadie was born, in which I never ever had a full night’s sleep, or even more than four hours in a row. Reading back on some of my journal entries from that time I could almost vomit from remembering how brutal trying to function under that level of fatigue was.
Of course we had many beautiful times there too. Establishing ourselves as a unit of four. Entertaining. Following each other from room to room like faithful puppies. Being “proper adults”. Being right children.
But in the end, none of it meant enough to us to particularly want to keep the house. When we left, I think we knew we weren’t going to come back to it. We have other dream Australian homes for when we do return. I’m not sure in the two years we were there we left much of a mark on the place, which is why it’s fitting that I post these photos of it just as a record, taken basically right before we moved out (though not before we trashed the joint in the frenzy of moving overseas while both working full-time up until pretty much the day of departure). You can see that we lived there, but these aren’t photos of events or times. Enough of those have been posted here before, and the rest are in my head (or, the external hard-drives.)
This is the house pictured in the real estate ad when we bought it in 2007. So this is the prior owners’ furniture and decor.
And this is the house pictured in the real estate ad when we sold it about six months ago. So this is our tenants’ furniture and decor (although the spectacular bright yellow wall was our idea, and if we hadn’t moved to Hong Kong, we were going to paint a huge cherry blossom tree on it. In fact Joel had already stencilled it in in pencil. I love this wall. You cannot help but smile at a colour like this.)
In the period between these shots, we filled the house with our own less designer furniture, chaos and dander. Now that I think about it we did leave marks on this house: the stencil of the cherry blossom tree, texta drawings all over the walls, the broken spa, the malfunctioning alarm system, and the constantly flooding dishwasher. And it must be said Joel built an awesome pergola out the back, and we had a wall put in to create a fourth bedroom.
If anyone’s interested, here’s where we lived our first two years as a family of four; our last two years in Australia.
Our bedroom with the broken blind, the catastrophic occurrence that, as long-time readers might remember, resulted in me breastfeeding Zadie after consuming 18 standard drinks that night. At my mum’s request.
Some of our bedroom treasures.
Hideously ugly bathroom.
The worst couches to ever grace
Remember that time I got locked in here with Rufus? He was 1, and didn’t have any pants on. I was pregnant, and didn’t have any food. We spent an hour trying to break the glass door with a coathanger, a plastic toilet-roll holder and the toilet brush. Miraculously, Siobhan dropped in to visit and we were able to hail her through the cat door. She was able to effect our release just as I was wrapping my arm in a towel with a view to attempting to punch through the glass. DUDE I WAS PREGNANT. Don’t let me lock myself in a room that doesn’t contain a food source or I am going to break the door.
Spent at least half of my time standing right here hanging out and bringing in hundreds of loads of washing. Actually that didn’t take any longer than it usually should; but remember my OCD is particularly strongly manifested around pegs, and I have to ensure they all swing freely and hang in groups of their own colours. In propitious numbers.
One of the best things about this house was my neighbour, Susan. We just crossed paths at that exact moment when our lives were perfectly relatable – two young mums struggling with the perceived eradication of our professional careers, learning to live in trackpants, and not sleeping. A few days a week we would manage to coordinate our five kids’ nap schedules so we could curl up on each other’s shitty couches and drink tea, pouring our hearts out and sharing tissues as our kids destroyed everything in sight. I really miss living next to her. When I was having a bad day it helped just knowing she was next door and her kids slept even less than mine.
When we first met, her twins (standing in the background) were babes in arms and Zadie wasn’t even an idea. Time flies etc.
We had this on the kitchen bench. Joel made it out of an old wine box – sanded it back, stained it, drilled holes in the bottom and powered it up so we could charge all our devices in it without having to look at cables all over the place.
It’s papered with old street maps of Melbourne, the city that, despite us leaving kind of disenchantedly, we both love so hard.