I always knew that I’d intuit the right time to leave. I suppose that’s an inherent knack I have. A crawling wiggles in the back of my mind. It directs my eyes to the horizon, and I feel my skin, tight to bursting around my chest. Still, the reconciling between past and future decisions takes time. My imagination fires up. Where to next? Where do I need to be? What do I need to slough off in order to move forward without weight? Lists are drawn. Pros, cons, wildest dreams, realities (don’t realities always begin as wildest dreams?). There is the A list and the B list. A is what we want. B is something we could make work. Manifesting requires absolute faith. There is no plan B. And yet…plan B got us into the house we have called home since the end of 2018. We jumped, the A-list shifted and we free-fell (gratefully) into this place. In many ways I am grateful because if I hadn’t landed here, I might never have left. Then I would have been living on the west side of Brisbane, without a full breath to call my own.

‘What do you want?’ whispered the universe.
‘I want to go home’ I said.

This time I said it with conviction and a clear mind.

This will be the third time I return to the Sunshine Coast, since I fell in love with it back in 2006. Each time, the same house spat me out. I kept landing back in Brisbane (do not pass go, do not collect $200) but it took my damned heart, and for every time that I have packed to leave, I have made a vow to return.

So, we wrote a list. If I was to have a place we would never leave, what would it look like? I meditated on it. I obsessed over it. I called it in. I felt it slip. I faltered and applied for other places, and was systematically rejected. I visited our beaches and appealed to the ocean. I communed with the forest.

Two weeks ago, we got the call. The house contains every single thing on our list. Plus a pool.

What’s next? I am asked. I am asked this a lot. I have no idea. The future, I have been told, will attend to itself.

I can’t leave this house without deep gratitude, however. I knew an estate would materialise around us with its tight gaps and high fences. I knew that it I would never be able to survive in its hem. But provided a shelter when we needed it most. And as I packed this place into boxes, the ghosts shook free and reminded me of its story, which I tapped out in a list:

street light windows / 4am willie wagtails / grief like a fire / book launch / hands shaking / rapid cycling / lithium / drowning / burning my red skirt / wandering cows / climbing the hills in the estate just to see the moon / national park trails / squinting to see the Grand Conjunction at sunset from the park / leaving for Italy / turning 40 in the backyard / festoons strung up like a carnival / Moët from my brother / the smell of dough and wood smoke / Chianti / booking Japan trip / pre-grieving / what is a daughter / paring back / going to ground / running / walking because running sucks / watching COVID descend upon us like a dark cloud / lock down / empty skies / empty roads / meeting the neighbourhood dogs. all of them. / queues outside the supermarket / adult-motherhood / cancelling Japan trip / staring at fences / post-it note wisdom / writing my thesis / nervous Zoom calls with supervisors / birth of my first blackberry, tomato, capsicum / lavender tea / finishing my thesis / one.more.subject / escaping to Cairns / finishing M.A / finally drinking that Moët from my brother / publishing more work / perfecting a mirror glaze/ colour-stained fingers / neon, wigs, dancing, watching my daughter turn 21 in the back yard / addiction therapy / birth of my first magnolia / death of my first magnolia / plants as life-givers and takers / lifeless dragonflies / everything dies / figure skating as self-soothing / i. hate. christmas. / somatisation / starting manuscript / writing as discipline / new research / graduating in absentia / new psych / calcified anxiety / stretching is life / black and white Denmark still in frames, leaving marks on walls / finding the same pink teddy bear every move (we can’t remember why) / re-packing said bear in case we figure it out / house mantras & coast drives / inspection & rejection cycle / relief / last boxes / going home.

I wandered through the rooms and talked to ghosts, leaned against the wall in the kitchen, watching two and a half years of realities blur simultaneously, breath caught, searching for something to hold onto.

I pressed pause.

‘We made a cake in this house!’ I smiled, tearfully.
‘We made a LOT of cakes in this house.’ Stephen replied, hugging me.

I know more than anyone, that moving doesn’t erase the past. It just compartmentalises it, neatly.

Grief is love that won’t let go, she said.

I am learning to choose my ghosts wisely.