There it goes up the driveway. It takes two strong young men and one strong older hubby to heave our piano up to the Salvation Army truck and out of our lives. This gives rise to a surprising amount of anguished soul-searching, and not just because of what we discovered had been living behind it. It’s what it represents that is so disturbing because it belongs to a time of endless possibility and optimism.
We acquired it along with many other optimistic objects that we were sure would enhance our lives. Let’s see…there was a juicer that provided an hour’s bonus cleaning for every healthy drop that entered our bodies; a mini trampoline from which we would jump our way to beauty; a knitting pattern for a tea cosy in the shape of Versailles (memory leads me to some embellishment here…. it was actually a thatched cottage.) But it might as well have been a palace, because our delusions were certainly on a grand scale.
We were young, we had a house to renovate, a life to build and most importantly, two young children to guide towards illustrious futures so of course we wanted to supply all the equipment in advance to pre-empt all that genius. Heaven forfend that our young Mozart should be thwarted by the lack of a piano, or that a future Nobel prizewinner should miss out just because he or she had been denied access to that Junior Chemistry set. Fortunately the kids, to give them credit, tried hard to fulfil our dreams for about a week, then they very sensibly started concentrating on their own.
No, this journey up the driveway represents the end of all that parental hubris.
So out go four quilling tools, three French tapes, two cricket bats and the plans for a tree house in a mango tree! (Let’s face it we could never have managed the Treehouse Mahal below. Some things are better left as dreams.) And I discovered I was far more attached to the remarkable folders of incomprehensible Chemical Engineering notes than our daughter, who told us to bin them without a backward glance. Same with our son’s Podiatry instruments and plastic replica foot… his feet are firmly on a different path now.
We were the ones who held on to boxes of jig saw puzzles for imagined grandchildren, the bags of soft toys, the medal for third place in the egg and spoon race and even a complete 3-in- one pram. But it’s not all wasted. The Salvos or the wonderful Brain-Injured Children charity shop in Rosalie are passing them on to other couples still in the first flush of hope. I don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm but I feel like leaving a note inside saying: If they want a flute or a junior lathe, they’ll ask for it.
Some things did take, but mostly the ones they figured out for themselves. Our son spotted a surfboard outside a second hand shop in Bondi for $50 in about 1989 and has never been off it, – or one like it – since, and all those tennis lessons with Wayne at Milton left them both with a mean forehand and plenty of kudos for a good ol’ Aussie upbringing when overseas. But it’s not just the stuff…it’s the life we all had together that will never return – Friday night swimming club, Saturday morning soccer with the under-7 koalas, Wednesday nights debating…the list really is endless, as were holidays… from some old units overlooking the shiny water at Bribie Island (renamed Bribery Island for obvious reasons.) to a gite in Provence overlooking a valley of lavender, and so many other places in between, it all needs a blog of its very own. But all the blogging in the world won’t bring it back. When the stuff disappears down the road it really is the end of those lovely years!
And it’s not just the kids who are gone, so many illusions about ourselves, and our own capabilities (or lack of) have to be faced, so I’m offering few tips for any fellow delusional hoarders among you. One is from the annals of Country and Western wisdom: Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ’em.
Not sure if that last bit refers to the ironing…in which case you might prefer your advice to come from the Oracle at Delphi: Know thyself.
- Know that thou wilt never ever make amazing leather waistcoats out of the scraps thou gathered when thou worked for the rag trade in London in the 70’s. Especially as thou now liveth in Queensland.
- Know that thou wilt never convert thy old faded slides from the Bahamas in the 1960’s into a digital file. Or if thou dost, thou wilt still never look at them, or inflict them on anyone else.
- Know that keeping all those back issues of The Writer will not transform thee into a best selling author.
- Know that thou wilt never again fit into that purple velvet mini-skirt, no matter how many mung bean and ry-vita diets thou goest on. Neither should thou!
- Back to Kenny Rogers: Know when to walk away, know when to run!
So, to resort to yet another popular music cliché: You can run, but you cannot hide. No matter where you go, you take your head with you and that’s where the work begins. We have to re-invent or find again the people we were before we threw our energies into the building phase. It’s time to dismantle the structures we needed in order to run a family and a job, and hopefully discover that that when the structures are gone, we don’t just fall into a heap of boneless jelly. Well, I’m OK, but not sure about you dear!
So new life, new place…will we do more than just watch telly, drink tea and flicker-bicker? Watch this space.
Quilling: also known as paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs.