Saturday, October 27, 2007

Segue: The Move

Those who follow me on Twitter, either through Facebook, the sidebar here, or on Twitter proper, will already know that I’ve recently moved house. I’ve received a number of emails and messages expressing everything from shock and confusion, to utter disbelief about this latest change in my life. To understand such reactions you have to know that I lived at my previous address for just over 11 years. I would lose contact with people, only to reacquaint with them years later, and be able to respond to their catch up questions with ‘Yes, still at Cricket Street’. So you see, no-one, least of all me, was really prepared for such a momentous volte face on my part.

It isn’t that I was content living at Cricket Street, that wasn’t the source of the surprise expressed; anyone who has read this blog for even a short period of time, or been unfortunate enough to listen to me complain about living amidst football crowds and alcohol fuelled shenanigans ranging from drinking and peeing in the green zone bordering my yard, to assaults, murders and rapes, knows I was not especially happy with my living arrangements. But over the years, I just accepted that I had a good deal with the rent, especially for living by myself, and in such a central location. I generally thought I couldn’t complain too loudly, in any official capacity at least, because I had chosen extreme inner-city living.

A couple of things changed, however, that made me reassess my living options. The first of these was the sale, about two years ago, of the flats I lived in. They used to be owned by the family who lived in the house next door. The landlord was a post-war Italian immigrant who came to Australia to work on the Snowy Mountain River Hydro-Electric Scheme. He was sometimes a little overzealous in his maintenance of the yard, popping over whenever he pleased to pick up stray leaves that had fallen from the mango tree, but he was committed to offering reasonably priced accommodation. For health reasons, the family decided to sell the flats and they were bought by a woman who lived overseas, whose parents and brother found the property for her. Now instead of enduring the ministrations of micro-maintenance the flats became neglected, abandoned to the indifference of a real estate property manager, who still managed to be intrusive, ordering a whole series of inspections that seemed to have nothing to do with the appalling condition of the floors, walls, water pipes, or anything else that required the concerted attention of a tradesperson.

So there I was, wallowing in a torpor of squalor and disrepair, when I checked my email one afternoon and saw that someone was seeking a person to share with. I was assured that I’d have my own bathroom, and the asking price was on par with my then current accommodations. Here, finally, was what I could be looking for. Everyone I’d vaguely approached about the possibility of sharing more salubrious lodgings was either committed to living by themselves, on the house-sitting circuit, or caring for elderly parents. I wondered if it would be possible for me to live with someone again after thirteen years of not having to account to anyone for the state of the kitchen sink? And what about the prospect of living with a complete stranger? I had never done this, even when I first left home.

It turns out that I already knew the flat mate I’m now living with. Or, rather I knew her children. We went to youth theatre together; they were about six and eleven years old and as cute as buttons, and I was twenty-three and catching up on my ‘piano lessons’ (the kinds of extra-curricular activities that most people do while they’re still at school).

I made the decision to move in on the spot, and I suppose it’s this, after many years of inertia, while accepting all sorts of infringements upon my comfort and well-being, that has surprised so many, including myself. I sometimes wondered if I would live there putting up with crap, literally and figuratively, forever.

Now, as I sit here typing, I can reflect upon my first week in the new house; I say house, for it is a three bedroom, stand-alone townhouse type of dwelling. In addition to my own bathroom, which I must report, in very excited tones, has a bath, there is a sizeable patio that leads off my bedroom and looks onto a small cricket-pitch shaped garden, surrounded by garden beds with low-maintenance plants.

I’m sitting on my own private patio and looking at the garden.

I pulled up some stray weeds this morning, so it looks particularly nice as the light fades.

I can hear the sounds of children playing; the bossy tones of a five year old swimming with a besotted and pliable adult.

Later, I’ll go upstairs and make myself a salad for dinner in the big galley kitchen with stainless steel benches and a dishwasher. I won’t be eating much more, because I invited a friend over for afternoon tea—something I almost never did at Cricket Street since I was too embarrassed—and she bought some hommus dip with fancy crackers and some lovely Pink Ribbon foundation cup cakes, which were added to the slices of chocolate and carrot cake that had I bought from a cake shop located around the corner, past a small college campus, a league’s club, a creative glass guild, a bowls club, and across a small creek bed with only a very little bit of water in it.

I did laugh when I saw I was going from one football hub to another, but really, from this spot, you’d never know it was there, and the league’s club tends to attract a very different crowd from the pubs and hotels near Suncorp Stadium.

And later, when my flat mate returns from her long, daily walk we’ll talk about her afternoon at work in the library, and we’ll probably watch the news, watched over by various art works that she's accumulated. She’ll tell me how much she can’t bear Kevin Rudd because he’s so mannered, to say nothing of his tardiness in asserting the worth of the union movement and Howard and Costello’s indebtedness to the economic initiatives of the Hawke-Keating years.


Shado said...

Hi Kirsty
I'm really delighted to hear that this has been such a successful move. It makes a huge difference having a comfy, relaxing, well-equipped spot to live in.
As some of my housesitting experiences have reminded me (something I already knew from bitter experience!), one can't just live anywhere. There is a difference between: I think I can survive living here and I actually enjoy living here.

genevieve said...

Congratulations, Kirsty - sounds delightful, may you have many happy times.

Oanh said...

"extreme inner-city living" sounds like a sport - one has to get out eventually :-)

Mark Lawrence said...

It sounds fabulous, Kirsty. I'm glad you've found something that makes you happy. And I really envy the private patio and garden! It would make for a wonderful writing atmosphere. Do you have wireless broadband as well?

That would be the (pink) icing on the (cup) cake!

Ariel said...

Yay! Sounds great. It's nice to have someone to chat to about nothing sometimes - a flatmate can mean you can be social without having to actually make the effort to go out and be social, and can make a real difference to the old self esteem/mood at times, in my experience.

Patio garden looks just lovely.

Sounds like an excellent move.

Kirsty said...

Thanks everyone, for your comments. Yes, it does feel better all round. Even, adjusting to the foibles of another person (and they, me).

Oanh, I think the inner city living was an extreme sport, and a contact one at that!

Mark, I have some pink icing and a cup cake, in separate hands, so to speak. I don't have a wireless card, I'm using a 20 metre ethernet cable. But I'm working on getting the icing on the cake. Hello ebay. Now all I have to do is get up the nerve to bid.

meli said...

sounds lovely! i moved a few months back and am immensely glad i did, though i have no garden...