I first moved to the town where we live when I was about 14.
Before that I’d lived in Melbourne until I was 10 and had moved to a tiny place outside Albury & Wodonga called Bethanga.
Before that first interstate move I had not wanted to go, but then I fell hard for Bethanga. Not hard to do when you get your own horse, hand rear a lamb, watch tree frogs climb your windows and eagles nest on the next hill. It was the only place that had ever really felt like home. Even for years after I was pulled away from it. My mum and her husband separated and in the same year my brother died which meant my mother decided to run back to Melbourne. I bounced between Melbourne and Albury for a few months never fitting where I was, before my mother decided to move here.
I was so angry when the place she had described so lovingly showed itself to be the absolute opposite of all her descriptions. It was wet and cold, empty dormant vines looking like death lining so many of the roads. I hated it so passionately that even when the weather turned, the sun shone and everything grew again I really couldn’t see the joy she had in it. So I continued my bounce between parents homes ran away to Canberra with a completely mismatched boy, returned
pregnant with my first and here I remained for 11 years with the itchy feet of someone who never quite belongs.
Then came my spectacularly bitter divorce, which freed me to run away to the sunshine coast with the kids. But after a little over a month of being unable to find a home and in danger of having to live out of the car I gave in and came back. My only regret of the experience was that I had quit a very good job when I left and couldn’t change that.
Mr. Wolff and I got together sometime after the return and following a legal tussle to be allowed to leave we moved to Tasmania. After about 4 months of bitter cold and complications we packed up again and headed for Adelaide. The next almost four years were spent with me working full time while Mr. Wolff worked towards a law degree.
Part way through it all I knew I’d had enough, try as I might to escape this place, to reject it for all it’s small town frustrations this so called city was calling me back because somehow it was home. I didn’t want it and it showed no signs of needing me but still it called to me, some sort of slow living siren song. This place that is perpetually covered in red dust, that doesn’t so much move as amble has snared me try as I might to resist.
So here I am now back for almost a year, in our own forever home. Just a little bit of me wonders how it happened, when I always had one eye on the road ready to move on to better things. But the rest of me is filled with a quiet contentment. Which only grows stronger as the almonds blossom where they guard the vines just minutes away from bursting into luminous green buds. Even when the sky fills with red and the winds howl with dust that contentment is there warming the pit of my stomach.
Somehow this place is home and slowly I grow to accept that and love it.
But I’m not saying that I wouldn’t be happy to have a beach house to spend some of the year in.