It’s been a busy few weeks for those of us who normally reside at the Dave from Albury Compound.
At the beginning of the month I finished my year as the President of Albury Apex at our annual handover dinner, displayed incredible restraint as I watched the mighty Saints put Mrsdave’s beloved Cats to the sword, and prepared for a trip north to visit my parents in (allegedly) sunny Port Macquarie as a surprise for Dad’s 60th birthday. Although I was expecting our holiday to be little more than a chance to catch up with family and relax a little, it ended up turning out to be quite a bit more, and has had a most unexpected effect on me.
I’m still not particularly sure exactly what it was that triggered the introspection and change, I suppose some distance and hindsight will be required to put it all in order, but there were so many things that seemed to play a part that it’s difficult to order my thoughts.
A part, no doubt, was celebrating Dad’s 60th birthday, a time for reflection. I don’t think that I’m the only son in awe of his Dad, he has always projected an authoritative calm that in my mind marked him as a ‘grown up’. The age difference between Dad and I is the same as that between Buster Boy and I, which bought into sharp relief the fact that my childhood recollections of Dad were of a man much more in control than I often feel. Dad always seemed to be able to manage any situation with confidence, from being able to put a boat trailer down a ramp perfectly every time, to hot-wiring our car the time the keys got lost in the bush as a storm closed in on us. I wondered why I still didn’t have my shit together the way Dad has always seemed to?
In addition to this I’ve been struggling with a feeling of aimlessness for some time. I’ve been trying to find something to give me more direction and hopefully some structure, but have had no idea what I’m looking for. I’m not dissatisfied with any particular facet of my life, even the stuff that I loathe about my job is really quite insignificant, but I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I’m perpetually disorganised.
Another thing was, strangely enough, a Clint Eastwood movie, Gran Turino. There was something about Clint’s character in this movie that struck a chord with me, he may have been a grumpy, solitary, racist, angry man, but he was trying to hang on to a sense of his place in the world. There was a quiet pride that he had about his home and his neighbourhood that inspired me to think about the Dave from Albury compound. We’ve lived here for over six years now, but in that time I don’t think that I’ve really taken ownership of the place. Every now and again there’s been a niggle that I should do more about the place, and even more often than that there have been requests along the same lines from Mrsdave, but I simply hadn’t embraced the call of the yard, and I struggled to build enthusiasm for anything beyond absolutely necessary maintenance of the house.
Towards the end of our first week in Port Macquarie word came through that my Great Uncle, and Godfather, had died. He was 82 and had been dealing with a string of health problems for years, so the news wasn’t entirely surprising, and the fact that he had died at home, in his sleep, was some comfort. We started to make plans to travel to Inverell for the funeral, a new suit was purchased and alternative plans were made for the journey home as we’d be over 1100 km from Albury, which is more than a day’s travel with Buster Boy and the Troll Princess in the back seat.
Uncle Maurie had been a very important part of my family, he and Aunty Helen were like second parents to my Dad, as my grandmother, Maurie’s older sister, had also suffered from poor health throughout much of her life. To me they were also like an extra set of grandparents and as their own grandchildren didn’t come along until I was about ten I was lucky enough to have received a great deal of love and attention from them. Losing Maurie was an event we had been dreading for some time.
It’s been 15 years since I left my home town of Inverell for university, and I never went back to live there again. I had an uneasy relationship with my birthplace, I came from a reasonably prominent family, which meant that I was never able to get away with any sort of bad behaviour, and my school days aren’t really memories that I cherish. Consequently, I embraced the opportunity that uni gave me to somewhat recreate myself without the constraints that I felt that Inverell had imposed upon me, and when uni was finished I chose to settle in Albury rather than my home town. Mum and Dad moving to Port Macquarie shortly afterwards meant that my ties to Inverell seemed almost entirely severed.
Five years ago Mrsdave, a tiny Buster Boy and I returned to Inverell for a family reunion and I felt the old dread of being there, so I expected to feel the same way when we went there for Maurie’s funeral. I made the comment to Mrsdave that I thought that I had ‘left Inverell a long time ago’, but the most unexpected thing happened as we motored along the familiar roads that led to my home town, I began to miss it. At first I thought it was just a bit of nostalgia, but after the funeral we spent some time wandering through the town and I was struck by what a wonderful little place it is. Once I had thought there could be nothing worse than returning to Inverell, however now I think that if fate pointed me back in that direction I’d grab the chance with both hands.
So we’re back at home and I feel that I have undergone a palpable change, Mrsdave claims to have noticed it too. I have a sense of peace regarding my old home town, the last two days have been spent rehabilitating the grounds at the Dave from Albury Compound, and over the past week we’ve laid out plans and goals for ourselves that are unlike anything we’ve previously done in terms of their detail. I’m still struggling to explain it all properly, but the closest thing I can come up with is that it feels like I’ve grown up. Getting married, buying a home and having kids were all milestones, but something has clicked this week and rather than changing the things in my life, I feel like I’ve changed my life itself.
Update: Seeing as we’ve been talking about it in the comments. Get off my lawn!