Finding my way back home

The other week, on a Saturday morning whim, I had my tarot cards read. I expected nothing. I’ve had my cards read a few times. Normally I see a reader who is recommended by someone, or who has a bit of street cred for being relatively accurate.

But I stumbled upon this lady while exploring an outer suburb of Adelaide. I’m still a bit undecided about how accurate her reading was, but she did connect with my Nan who had passed over. This I know for sure because she said things so specific that only someone who was being guided by my Nan would be able to recount.

Part way through the reading we were talking about how often I had moved in the years since I finished high school and she asked me if I ‘missed home’.

I told her that I don’t really have a home. She looked slightly taken aback until I explained that my parents separated when I was 18 – right after I finished high school, just as I was preparing to move away for university.

During the course of the separation they sold my childhood home, the house I had grown up in for the better part of 16 years. My Dad moved to a different town and my mum has also since relocated interstate.

The concept of ‘home’ changed significantly.

It’s hard to miss home when the concept and image of what it once was is so distant, that it feels almost foreign. There is so much water under the bridge. Every member of my family has grown and changed and adapted so greatly over the past 12 years that even if we were to find our way back to the house that was our home, we wouldn’t fit under its roof anymore.

But as I told her, I do miss my childhood.

For me, those years are more of a ‘home’ than any physical location probably ever will be. I miss the memories, the emotions and the exact moments that I took for granted as being ‘forever’ when they were actually just fleeting.

It’s hard to pin point exactly what those memories are, but they are nothing grand. The big moments of Christmas morning, birthday parties, and new pets are there, but they pale in comparison to the simplicity of the everyday.

Dad frying up bacon and eggs on the barbecue for breakfast on Sunday morning, the thrill of eating takeaway fish and chips straight from the butchers paper it was packaged in on the lounge room floor. Nan knocking over her glass of water, frazzled, as she flicked through the annual Firefighters’ calendar.  Summer barbecues with family friends, the smell of mosquito repellent, wine trifle, and the old wooden picnic table we all clambered around with plastic cutlery and snags.  The laughs. The people. Maybe even the house in general. Its wooden floorboards. My bedroom and how shady and calm it felt in the afternoons. The glossy cement ramp to the garage that was perfect for skidding on your bike or toppling over in roller skates.

I didn’t know that when I chose to stay home and hang out with my boyfriend – like the cool 17-year-old I was – rather than go to one of our long-time family friend’s  40th birthday party  it would be the last time I would see that friend and her family before my parents separated. Before our family was no more.

My biological extended family wasn’t very close when we were growing up. As such, we had a lot of ‘family’ who weren’t blood relatives but shared in all the coming of age, milestone moments that made them so much more than friends.

Jo was one of those friends.

She’d been at the heart of so many memories and so many pivotal events growing up, that I took for granted that was the way it would always be.

We’re all a tad selfish at 17. But as I have learnt, you don’t realise how much that self-indulgence will still sting in 13 years’ time.

As like any by-product of separation, shared friendships fall. Many of my parent’s friends found themselves in the middle, unsure what to say and how to act, who to include and when to back away. The crack that slices through a family during a separation always seeps beyond the core. Eventually, although not all the time, you’re left with strangers.

Hopefully one day those strangers find themselves a new home.

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