A collection of events witnessed from my bedroom windows.
A flash of my brother Darren sprinting past, glancing over his shoulder. He is followed moments later by a flash of Dad, brandishing a leather belt and yelling out curses.
We are living in country Victoria, in a house at the foot of a mountain range known for its devastating bushfires. We are in the middle of a particularly hot summer. A widespread water ban means the grass in our yard (and everyone’s yard) has become crisp and yellow, like hay.
Meanwhile, Darren has discovered a jerry can full of petrol in the garage. He’s spent the past few hours pouring it out in long lines across the backyard, then lighting it with a match. He likes watching the flame race along the ground like a snake.
Dad has caught him in the act, “GET HERE YOU LITTLE…” and thus the race began.
Our dog Pepsi trotting past with a bloodied chicken in her mouth. Then echoes of shrieking and screaming across the neighbourhood.
We are having trouble selling our house and today is yet another open inspection. Potential buyers are starting to arrive and mum has sent me to my room to quickly make the bed. She is planning to take us all on a long walk, with the dog, until the inspection is over.
Pepsi has other plans.
She has broken into the neighbour’s chicken pen, picked out the best layer and attacked its jugular.
Like a trophy, Pepsi has brought the animal back home and is showing it off to the small crowd gathering at our front door. The poor little hen is still alive, squawking and flailing. A trail of feathers and blood in its wake.
Pepsi’s head is held very high and if dogs could grin, she surely would be.
People are screaming and running back to their cars.
“Darren, Steph, Jono, quick! Help me catch Pepsi,” Mum yells up the hall.
We all dash outside and Pepsi thinks it is a terrific game of reverse fetch. She dodges, fakes us out, sidesteps to the left, the right, the right again. The chicken, which is dead by now, is flopping around limply in her mouth. Pepsi is good at this game.
We do eventually catch her, but she won’t give up the chicken. I remember Darren dragging her away and trying to pry the carcass from her mouth.
We didn’t find a buyer for our house that day.
My mother dressed as a prostitute.
We are in Sydney now. Darren is having his 18th birthday party. The theme is Pimps and Prostitutes. Before people start arriving, Mum is pottering about putting out snacks and drinks. She has put on a feather boa and bright red lipstick. Darren tells her to please change or “at least tone it down to a Madam or something.”
My 18th birthday party.
Not a prostitute or a pimp in sight. The theme is red, orange and yellow.
When the party is over and the stragglers have finally left, I look out this same window again. I see my two brothers and our friend Shaun sitting with their feet in the pool, chatting. Dad is behind them sweeping up broken glass and bottle caps.
A jacaranda through the seasons.
A jacaranda is much better than a fireworks display. A graceful explosion that lasts for weeks.
I am living in London with my boyfriend (now husband) for a year. We are renting a little room in a share house with about 2,000 other people. They are mostly boys who spend their down time drinking beer and watching soccer, or drinking beer and playing soccer on X-box.
It is unbearably cold much of the time and I grow to hate how invasive and harsh winter is. But looking back, one of my favourite memories is the morning I woke up to this:
We are living in an apartment block in inner west Sydney. It is next door to a residential care home for adults with a disability. We did not know this at the time we signed the lease. We also did not know that our balcony looks directly onto theirs. Many of the residents like to spend their afternoons pacing up and down the balcony. Sometimes, they like to do so naked.