On coming home

23 Nov

imageNearly 17 years ago I discovered a little timber beach house with a magical sea view, a cooling evening breeze, a relentless ocean soundtrack and a private, sunny deck. It became my home and haven for the next three days, and my dream for the many years that followed.

Away from the beach house, my life was a tumult. I had a new baby, a newly-diagnosed dying mother and a freshly-sealed divorce. I was drowning in fear and grief and guilt – and maritally-transmitted debt. I felt overwhelmed, battered. I couldn’t see a way forward, let alone a way out.

My husband’s parents had taken my son away for a few days, and a long weekend stretched ahead emptily and aimlessly. I found myself driving north, saw a vacancy sign, enquired. Dragged my misery up the stairs of the beach house, collapsed onto the couch. I didn’t move from it for the first day, wallowing in self-pity and a pretty cheap bottle of semillon (even then, I wouldn’t touch chardonnay).

On the second day I climbed down the dunes and walked the length of the beach, and because of the crashing waves or the scuttling crabs or perhaps the ancient sands, I rediscovered my guts. Or at least, enough of my guts to not drink the rest of the cheap semillon that night.

On my last morning, I walked again down my beach and into the village at the end of it. In the struggling little art gallery, I found a painting that seemed to capture my entire stay – three days that had somehow heralded the Rest of My Life. Peregian secret
The painting lovingly laid out my sandy beach path, studded with sheoak cones, shawled in wallum, shaded in banksia, and disturbed only by a single pair of footprints. It was clearly meant for me, a souvenir, a memory, an evocation, an invitation.

I stared at the painting for an age, desperately tempted to take it home, a talisman against the mess I was returning to. But I was struggling, too, and I decided I couldn’t afford it. Instead, on my way back to the beach house, I collected a couple of cups full of the silky, clean, soft sand and took them home and poured them into my mother’s favourite crystal bowl.

The bowl and its sand travelled with me from house to house, country to country, life to life for about 17 years. Sometimes I would pause and trail my fingers through the sand, but for most of the time it sat, unregarded and untouched, on whatever counter I had next set it down.

Yesterday, the bowl with the sand was packed with my other worldly goods and stored for a few weeks until we can move properly into our new home… the little beach house with a magical ocean view, the mighty crash of waves, an immensity of stars overhead and a breeze like a benediction.

Today, I walked on my beach, my footsteps the only disturbance on the tide-tugged sand.image

I’ll do the same tomorrow.

7 Responses to “On coming home”

  1. Jenn J McLeod | House for all Seasons November 23, 2013 at 9:12 PM #

    How absolutely wonderful. I do love a coming home story, 😉


  2. Annie Seaton November 23, 2013 at 9:36 PM #

    Absolutely beautiful.


  3. Gracie Macgregor November 23, 2013 at 9:38 PM #

    Jenn, thank you, this one’s MY “house for all seasons”!


  4. Lily Malone November 23, 2013 at 9:58 PM #

    Lovely Gracie.


  5. Servetus November 24, 2013 at 6:30 AM #

    All right! Congratulations.



  1. Richard Armitage Legenda 106: Stuff worth reading | Me + Richard Armitage - November 24, 2013

    […] Coming home to that beachhouse you loved. […]


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