I spent 8 years homesick for Ballarat and breathed a huge sigh of relief the day we drove back into town. Back into our new house. Back home. Back where my grandparents had walked the streets I walk on. Back where I felt safe. And I hadn’t felt safe for such a long time.
And then the gods smiled on me because when the new neighbours poked their heads over the fence (well the fence was actually broken and only two feet high so it wasn’t hard) the new neighbour was you.
I couldn’t believe my sheer good luck. You said, ‘We don’t want to waste money on a fence how about we plant a hedge?’ And I think the clouds parted and the sun shone down.
Then you said you were an artist and I sucked in my breath because I was afraid your art would be crap and I suck at polite lying.
But your art is stunning and fragile and strong – like you and when I saw it I think angels started singing.
But it got even better – we sat in your yard, you with wine and me with neat whiskey or gin and bared our souls and shared gossip and we were together in the world for a minute, which renewed our strength for being alone where we create and write and build.
Not many of us get to drink wine with their neighbour?
But now you are going away and I am sad.
So, I hope you hate Tasmania. I hope you hate its majestic mountains and their snow-capped peaks. I hope you hate the bushland and the cute little towns. I hope you hate Salamanca Market with its bustle and whiskey tasting. I hope you hate meandering down the Hobart boardwalk admiring the delicious yachts and I hope you hate the art at MOMA and that the paintings don’t seep into your skin.
I hope that after you have enjoyed all these things the winds that blow from the bottom of the earth blow you right back to the house next door to mine.