Ah to have a home, an unchanging rock to return to, an undisturbed familiar space. The welcome of walls, the gush of hot water from a faucet, food in the fridge, warmth and forgiveness – safety.
Memories of such filled my mind – my last essence of those words was Adelaide, over two years ago, two rich years that felt like ten. But now, the need to settle screamed as I unlatched the squeaky pop top on the camper in another darkened, deserted end-of-road and sighed internally. The exhale unnoticed as I decompressed after another busy day.
Anticipation of a meeting with Kai about her house filled my thoughts, but the time was not quite right for me, a trip up the coast, a stay with friends planned months ago, busy nights and mornings – I felt that to move into a place required time to settle, to introduce myself to those walls and earn their trust.
I continued to camp and go about my life, working, studying, socialising all through the uncertainty of location, biding my time – wanting and craving, drawn inexorably toward accommodation, yet waiting patiently as a hunter makes conscious pause before loosing arrow.
I returned from Brisbane and called Kai, the owners had not yet given their blessing for me to live there which brought in a dose of anxiety. I told myself that if this fell through then I would find another place, I told myself not to worry, but, the recipient of such soothing words was driven to this place. Kai sensing this told me to come and stay here anyway, I did just that.
Moving back into the room occupied months ago I unpacked the essentials, nothing more to have hope elevated, to defend against feeling of failure – a little shell of protection of which a lot of us go through I’m sure.
The van was still liveable, still containing my life in possession, memories upon photograph taped to windows and cupboards, blankets folded neatly next to the regularly watered plant, food still in the black plastic box dubbed pantry. Now however my head fell softly to sleep chambered by double brick and stained wooden window frames. I could gaze from glass pane to see beloved chariot alone amongst rainforest, its single solar panel winking at me from atop the fiberglass canopy – times were a changing.
A week passed and I met the owners, who were now privy to my temporary yet wishful residency. I had an informal interview while helping to fix the water pump. An honest charm conveyed and approval was given, I excitedly told Kai that night.
I was now a rent payer. A house liver. Safe harbour any night I chose.
My home high in the subtropical rainforest above Mullumbimby, the driveway a long and steep gravel track turning into a tan dual wheel trail cutting slowly through lush growth and soft grass. Over a small creek crossing, passing some grassy floored groves of tall trees and behind them, dark dense woodland.
There was a silence that comes pleasantly broken by birdsong and a distant trickle of water over rock, the light breeze drew out sweet floral fragrances and the divine glisten of golden green hue was everywhere.
Below the house, vivid green moss covered the ground and a stone path led downward, through the palms, ferns and past the trunks of giants to a wide and deep part of Wilsons Creek. The water was clear with a rich mineral grey opaqueness, small yellow leaves floated dreamily downstream. I sat on a rock and felt the rich tapestry of colour absorb into my eyes and the song of the forest serenade my soul.
Something surfaced from the centre of the swimming hole and seemed to breathe rapidly while drifting with the leaves, I focused and squinted sans glasses and when I craned my neck the figure was gone – submerged again in a ripple of water – I thought it to be a big fish or turtle of sorts and carried on with the nothing I was engaged in. A short while later it surfaced again to breathe and I saw the dark oily fur and matching bill – could it be? Was I experiencing my first platypus in the wild? It floated with the current and dove under again only to come up later for more air. I dared not move from my seat and eventually it came closer, another breach not metres from me and yes, I was indeed gazing at the cute and endangered waterborne native. The movements continued for some time and I guessed it to be hunting for food at the depths of the creek. I felt elated from the experience and considered the event my welcoming.
I climbed the stone staircase back to the house and ventured up the hill, a small citrus grove spaced out the sunny slope. Nestled on its border was an untended vegetable garden, overgrown with weeds. I stood for a while at the garden, my mind’s eye projecting images of flourishing edibles erupting from the soil, dew glistening on leaves and fruit bursting from the vine – I watched myself in the vision holding a wicker basket gathering food for the day. Oh how I missed gardening.
Walking onward down the dark and quiet forest track I came to a suspension bridge, built by the owners, it spanned Wilsons Creek with its metal cable and wooden planks supporting a pedestrian’s course. I stopped in the middle – the slow bounce of the bridge softly balancing to stillness – and I sat looking over the creek, clear water, grey rocks and tufts of partially submerged grass creating a naturally aesthetic water way – the current turned a corner heading for the swimming hole and seeing the main road ahead I turned back the way I came.
I have a home, I am settling, the van is releasing from grip, life is no easier and not more difficult but is now in another chapter – adventure and fortune awaits from my port – in what guise only the now can bring.