I found out today that the house I grew up in has been sliced in half. It’s been disconnected from the world, had it’s [what could be loosely called] gardens razed and a swathing gash cut through it’s belly in preparation for it’s impending transplant into Jindabyne, a skiing resort town in the Snowy Mountains.
I lived in the front bedroom between the day I was born and the day I moved out 20 years later. I’m one of the least sentimental people I know, but it’s pretty weird thinking that that very same room will soon be inhabited by some local Jindabynean, perched on the side of mountain, with snow covering it’s roof. It’s also a possibility that the house will be turned into a holiday rental shack, and will be the temporary lodgment for hundreds noisy vacationing families. Half decorated with the sort of boring institutional furniture you find in hotels, with each successive family leaving it a little more battered, damaged and stripped of character. It would eventually become a sleazy, worn out harlott of the domicile world, a cautionary tale to other houses. After it becomes too rough to attract tourists, it would be sold cheaply to the local junkie population and used as a crack house until one night when it is burnt to the ground in retaliation for unpaid heroin debts. The place I called home for two decades.
It’s probably for the best anyway, as the general consensus amongst my friends is that the place was haunted. Several times I saw people out of the corner of my eye, once I saw someone waving to me from my bedroom window whilst I was mowing the front lawn.
Another incident happened when I was 16. I had a few mates over and we were all huddled around my Sega Megadrive in the lounge room, beating each other up in highly competitive games of Street Fighter II. “Your mum’s home” Adam said casually. I got up and looked out the window “Her car’s not there”. “Oh maybe it was your sister, someone just walked past the door and down the hallway.” We searched the house but it was empty.
The worst of all happened when I was around 13 years old. I was nodding off to sleep one night when suddenly my bed started shaking violently. What’s more, it felt as though it wasn’t touching the ground. I bolted out of my room in hysterics and spent the night in my mum’s bed, wide awake. At the time, I was convinced it was an attempt by aliens to abduct me. I’d watched a TV special on Aliens a week or two beforehand and for months my biggest fear was being “beamed up” into a flying saucer for reasons unknown. It’s weird now that I think about it. I wasn’t scared of the aliens, or the experiments, or the intergalactic travel, I didn’t even think about those things. I was just scared of being removed from my life. In hindsight, without realising it at the time, I think I was subconsciously scared of death.
These days I’m pretty far removed from my time in the suburbs. I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but I can’t imagine not living close to the city now. Everything is at my bony fingertips here. The Botanic Gardens, markets, art galleries, Newtown, Surry Hills, the harbour and all the cool pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants you could want.
Last weekend I drove Tone out to his parent’s place at Revesby and I was almost shocked. The place seemed so numb. Perhaps it was due to the humid air and morbid, overcast sky combined with my rather savage hangover, but the place seemed like a ghost town. Rows and rows of decaying, overgrown houses lined up like tombstones without a person in sight. Service stations that have been run down and abandoned, covered in broken concrete and pierced by long tufts of spinifex shooting upwards between the cracked pavement. The roads were almost empty, I found myself wishing for some comforting traffic. With all the single level housing [and decreasing amount of large trees] the sky was massive. It hung overhead, dark and foreboding, the thick clouds dissipating the sunlight so you had no idea what time of day it was. For reasons I can’t quite explain, I felt like I was in Africa, or Mordor.
As I sped back along the M5 towards Glebe in my fireapple red Honda Civic [aka the Red Anchovie] I was reminded of a line from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
There was only one road back to L.A. US Interstate 15, just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Then on to the Hollywood Freeway straight into frantic oblivion: safety, obscurity. Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom. We’d gone in search of the American Dream. It had been a lame fuck around, a waste of time. There was no point in looking back. Fuck no, not today thank you kindly. My heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger: a man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.