Published on February 8th, 2016 | by Ann Rickard0
Don’t Go Back
Never go back to look at your old house. It is likely to fill you with sadness and make you depressed.
About 15 years ago, I went back to the house of my childhood: a modest weatherboard square box in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
Why I did such a stupid thing I can’t recall. Maybe a mid-life crisis.
The sparse population in the western suburbs of Melbourne during my childhood consisted almost entirely of confused and homesick immigrants from Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Italy.
“It was not a cheerful place back then in the 50s”
It was not a cheerful place back then in the 50s as everyone struggled hopelessly to adjust to this new, strange and empty country while fighting off tiger snakes.
I recall a lot of tiger snakes as the virgin land was constantly being cleared. People killed them and hung them over barbed wire fences so there was always an awful rotting smell of dead snake in the sad air.
I have no happy memories of my childhood in Melbourne’s western suburbs so why I went back there 35 years later to look at my old house, only a psychiatrist could tell.
It was early morning. I knocked on the door of the old and rundown weatherboard place whereupon a very hairy man wearing only the briefest of black underpants pulled open the torn flywire door and stared at me as though I was insane. Which I was. I fled.
I later lived in two homes in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs – as far away from the west as possible – and I haven’t revisited either since I moved to Queensland 20 years ago.
But, my son who still lives in Melbourne has driven past both houses recently and sent me photos. Both were unrecognisable now, but the property that filled me most with sorrow was the first home I lived in as a new bride.
We bought the large brown brick veneer house in one of those newly developed suburbs where houses that all looked the same were popping up like mushrooms after the rain.
It cost $37,950 in 1974 and was in a small court with just seven others.
All my children were conceived in the front bedroom of that house (which I pointed outto my 40-year-old son when he sent me the photograph, much to his horrified mutters of “too much information”) and were raised in the safety of its big boundaries.
We were all young families in that court and between us we had 21 children. All the parents let the children out in the morning to play in the court all day, only to appear en masse at someone’s front door when their tummies were empty. Imagine such parental capriciousness today?
Drive into our court and you were greeted by leafy trees, masses of hydrangea and bougainvillea bushes, carpets of pansies, lobelia, and freesias.
So, my friends, you will feel my pain when I looked at the photo recently of my old house in the small court.
The weathered fence was so leaning it was almost horizontal.Not a single flower grew. The once green lawn was a dry brown dust bowl, the front bedroom windows that once looked so large now looked like the slitted eyes of a drunken man.
And,the ultimate insult,the garage had been turned into a granny flat. It serves me right for looking back. Take my advice if you are ever tempted. Don’t.