Cutting (all) the strings

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.
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Some of our bedroom treasures.

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Hideously ugly bathroom.

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The worst couches to ever grace theany house.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It’s papered with old street maps of Melbourne, the city that, despite us leaving kind of disenchantedly, we both love so hard.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Rhiannon says:

    I love your yellow wall!!
    And you were obviously much smarter than us, and left your house empty?? We stupidly have a garden shed under our house, full of shyte/personal stuff, that we would have to return to Australia for before we could ever sell our house… its the most awful feeling. It’s got all the last minute things in, that we didn’t ship, but couldn’t bare to throw away, but wouldn’t miss too terribly if tenants burn the house down. Everything from a washing machine that didn’t sell on eBay, to a family heirloom Japanese lamp. Urghhh.
    When the time comes, it will be a great feeling for you to move back and find a new dream home. Just let me know if you want to move to Brisbane ok!? And if you need a washing machine?

  2. jadeluxe says:

    Although we don’t have the shed under the house, I totally understand that most awful feeling. For taxation purposes we had to move on Boxing Day, which was incredibly inconvenient for heaps of reasons – mainly because we had an empty house on Christmas Day šŸ˜¦ – but particularly because the tip was shut! So the last day was spent frantically driving stuff to friends’ houses all over Melbourne, and to the storage unit. Which we had planned to have all completely organised, but in the end had the door pulled shut over cascading mountains of unorganised stuff. It’s not good to think of leaving your stuff like that, all crazy and not knowing where half of it is. The worst part was the final two hours when were were really going to miss the flight and we were just chucking stuff behind the garden shed – some of it was good stuff too! And I had to ask the real estate lady who was renting out our house to organise a rubbish removalist to pick it up the following week. What a way to leave the country šŸ˜‰

    How often do you go back to Aus? Even though we’ve only been away one year, soon after we got here we realised that most of the stuff we had in storage we didn’t really care about (not to mention about half the stuff we bloody shipped here!) But of course sorting out that stuff from the actual valuable/important stuff in storage is going to be such a huge and shitty job. We planned to do it when we were back in Australia in July for holidays but to be honest? Three days digging around in a dark storage unit filled to overflowing just wasn’t that appealing…

    1. Rhiannon says:

      We had such a similar experience.. though it wasn’t Christmas, which must have been hideous for you šŸ˜¦ Being somewhat optimistic, I had booked a holiday house at the beach for our last week – with the intention of us having some quality family beach time before we left, and the added bonus of a bed with linen to sleep on. But of course the best laid plans never work, and in the end, we were driving two hours a day back to the bloody house to get it all emptied and clean, and then I was driving back again at night with the kids to sleep, and my husband pulled all nighters at our house, and we barely spent two hours at the beach together. Our dreams of fresh seafood at the beach were replaced with drive thru Maccas. On the last morning we realised we had left out too much stuff and would exceed our baggage weight limit, so we literally stopped at Vinnies on the way to the airport and had to drop off so much stuff that had been in the “love it. want it. have to take it.” pile. And we were at the post office posting 5kg of important documents that then took 3 months to get here… Everyone kept asking us how the flight was, and how we managed flying with a baby and a toddler, but in all honest truth, the flight was simply the best bit of the move because we could sit there and do NOTHING.
      We have been here 7 months now. No plans to go back yet for a visit, but yeah, won’t be runnaging through the shed if we do. It’s even got chunks of asbestos in it that we couldn’t chuck in with the other waste removal!!! And a bottle of Harpic, used once, that my husband said “doesn’t have a use-by date”.

  3. jadeluxe says:

    Oh, the similarities are amazing! The beach house idea was a great idea, if only it would have worked! We spent our last night in the “Quality Airport Inn” (note: not quality) because our flight was at 5am or something. My husband made it to the motel at 2.30am, after his 20th trip to the storage unit, which included him driving through a red light in complete exhaustion. Thinking back (and reading my journal) from that time, the stress and craziness was phenomenal. Kudos to us, and you, for doing it! šŸ™‚
    PS Totally agree about the flight. I was like “MUST JUST GET ON PLANE”, because it was DONE then. No matter what we’d forgotten to do, it was too late: we were gone! I’m sad you had to throw out all your good stuff on the way to the airport though šŸ˜¦ We were over 30kg over the weight limit(!!) and no-one even said anything? (!!!) I was all prepared to have to chuck it all out at the airport but somehow they let us through. Not to mention, travelling also with a baby and toddler like you, the five bags of hand luggage + stroller + two laptops we took on as hand luggage. Great, great times šŸ™‚

  4. Lauren says:

    You’re OCD about pegs??? Me too! Ah, the pleasure of a well colour-coded line!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Indeed! Sometimes my mum used to “do me a favour” and bring my washing in. She’s one of those people who just jams pegs all over the line anywhere, some half falling off, some nearly splitting in half. In the end I begged her to stop “helping” me šŸ˜‰
      So, yes, pegs… *cough*

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