My mother had positively hated that house. I’m sure there wasn’t one single happy memory for her there and when we moved, knowing the whole building was soon to be demolished, she couldn’t have cared less.
She had let me have posters on my bedroom wall in this home; she hadn’t allowed this before and I couldn’t have posters on the wall in my new bedroom. Here, she simply hadn’t cared.
The building was old and we had a shop downstairs, where she was forced to work seven days a week. She detested anything old, and hadn’t wanted to buy this business at all.
My mother’s disinterest in the condition of my bedroom walls, however, allowed me the freedom to be me, to add my own personal touches to my bedroom.
As I came into my teenage years, living in a new town, starting a new school and making new friends, a whole new world was offered to me on a silver platter. With my mother otherwise occupied by the loathed business, her attention had been diverted to something else, other than me. For the first time in my very young life, I began to enjoy my first taste of freedom.
My one and only rather small bedroom window looked out across the river. I would sit beside my bedroom window, watching the world go by, sketching what I saw, breathing in the warm country air.
The school bus stop was right at the front door of our shop and during the three years we lived there, I remember catching the bus only once, under protest, when a friend tried to convince me that the bus ride would be a preferred alternative to walking home from school. If I didn’t ever take the bus, how did I know I didn’t like it, was her argument. So I took the bus, just once. Once was enough.
Every morning I looked forward to my walk across the bridge, taking me to the other side of the river, where, after a few shortcuts here and there, I would be at school in fifteen minutes. At the end of the school day, I would do it all again, and I enjoyed every step of the way.
During the three years that we lived there, I discovered nail polish and grew my nails. And I grew my hair long for the first time in my life. When I could look after my own hair, mum would let me grow it long, and multiple arguments later and a lifetime of years, I finally convinced her that I did know how to wash my own hair, and yes, I did know how to drag a brush through my unruly mass of thick waves and curls!
Summer days after school, and all of the weekends were spent at the swimming pool in town. My friends taught me how to swim, assuring me I wouldn’t drown if I let go of the side of the pool! Mum would have died a million deaths, had she seen me jumping off the diving board, known as “The Tower”, into water that was perhaps fifteen feet deep, once I had gained my confidence in the water!
For a person who loved to take photos throughout every moment in time, mum took very few photos of this old building that we lived in. Obviously she didn’t wish to etch these walls into her memory. So tonight, as I looked through my old childhood photo album, I came across just one photo of my bedroom.
My hair had started to get some length in it and mum had said she wanted me to stand in front of my dressing table so that the back of my hair would be reflected in the mirror. She wanted to send photos of me to my sisters, still living on The Blue Mountains, to show them how much my hair had grown since we had moved away.
All the photo shows is just one corner of my room. What I was hoping to see was the huge poster on my wall, just above my bed, of Marc Bolan from the band T Rex. If mum had stood slightly to her right when she took this photo, the reflection of Marc Bolan would have been showing in the mirror.
What the photo does show is my very 70′s yellow transistor radio, sitting on top of my dressing table, the stool with the fluffy seat that was really soft to sit on and the picture that a friend had painted for me as a going away present when I had left my last school the year before.
These days, I’m the person taking the photos of every moment in time, knowing how fleeting those moments are, and realising that there are some days when you just feel like reminiscing and remembering what once was. You don’t necessarily wish to return to that place and time, but the jig-saw puzzle of your life can be helped along the way by the reminders of where we have come from, where we are now and where we are heading to.
As I reflect back on those days, when I enjoyed my first taste of freedom, there are some things that are very clear to me ~ I still love my freedom, I can still gaze for hours at a river, I would walk in the fresh country air rather than catch a bus any day, I still have long hair and I still love the feel of soft, fluffy fabric.
And I still get shivers down my spine when I hear the songs of Marc Bolan and T Rex.