As I approached the town I felt the excitement build, it peaks as I drive over the last rise which reveals the little green church on the hill. I was coming home again.
Driving the final 15km along the dirt road from the township to the homestead I was frightened by the intensity of emotion a place can evoke. It was filling me up, overwhelming me. My eyes prickled and my throat constricted to the point I thought I’d choke. I told myself I was being a fool but it didn’t stop.
Many of the good times I’d experienced over my life happened here.
Being a youngster and cruising around the property with my packed lunch and younger brothers and cousins in tow, off for adventure. Climbing hills, building cubby houses, roaming the dry dusty creek beds, exploring ruins and remnants of the past.
Letting my imagination run wild.
I’d piggy-back the younger boys when they got tired. I tied hankies to their sleeves for when their noses ran and brushed them off when they fell down.
It was my escape when I was bullied at junior school. Here I was not just accepted but welcomed.
It was a magical place and each time the holiday came to an end I hated to leave. As we departed down their dusty driveway I dared not look back for fear the tears would escape and my brothers would laugh.
As I got older it became more about the party – the pub night before rodeo, the rodeo itself and “the day after” recovery – back at the pub. I was slightly older than most of the friends I made but it didn’t matter. I was from the city and shouldn’t really have fitted in, yet I still did. It wasn’t just the family connections – the people of this township are all good, decent, welcoming people who make you feel like you’re a part of it all.
The pub is now closed. Many of the friends I made have moved away, building lives and families of their own. I don’t fit so much anymore, much time has passed. I haven’t changed but everything else has. Time moved on, as is the way, but I really have not.
My cousin returned though, to the very house he grew up in – to raise his own family.
He and his lovely lady have made changes to the house, wonderful changes and the same warm, welcoming vibe continues.
I slept in the same room I did before. A little boy now sleeps and wakes in the same room my cousin, his father, did.
The circle completes and I’m grateful to be still a part, however small, of this cycle.
For three days there was no mortgage, redundancy, or decisions to be made. Instead I made another little boy laugh, I watched movies in the cool dark, I sat on the porch admiring the view, I marvelled at the number of stars scattered across the night sky and in the baking heat I roamed the familiar places, remembering.
There is a piece of me stuck on that land and a piece of that land stuck on me. It’s not just the dust I bought home on my shoes and my car, it’s part of who I am.
I wiped viciously at the renegade tear that slid slowly down my cheek as I drove down their dusty driveway, homeward bound.