Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Mar 18

Friday, 6pm:

The driveway is a bit dodgy.

The HiLux ute bounces and veers as we motor up it, each of those huge wheels snared in deep ruts that run not quite parallel down the driveway. Water is coursing down those ruts, which are now more like river valleys – no, canyons.

I must get the excavator to do some work on this driveway next time it’s out this way.

My Barina squats in the rain at the top of the driveway. It has no trouble getting up here. You simply get a bit of a run up and barrel up the driveway inside one of those canyons, pushing against leaves kayaking down the rapids.

The Barina is parked beside the old caravan. It was my original dwelling and now serves as a storage unit. It’s a sort of halfway house for my precious stuff. In it I store everything I treasure – my son’s old homework books from when he went to the local primary school, photos of girlfriends, platform shoes from the 70s, back window louvres from a ‘85 Camira – until they rot; and then I take them to the dump. (Sentimentality apparently has a use-by date.)

The HiLux rumbles up the driveway crushing grand canyons and stops behind the Barina, idling in that rough, big diesel way.

Hard to think that once I actually lived in that caravan with two kids and their mother. It’s very small. Life was simple then. I could wake up in the morning, get the kids up, dress them, open the door to let them out to pee, put on a pot of tea and roll a smoke – all without getting out of bed.

I slide out of the HiLux. I’m stiff. It’s a long haul from the Victorian coast.

I look up to my shack and can hardly see it, hidden as it is by the long grass. I had brushcut before I left but the rain has nurtured rampant growth. Nevertheless, it looks inviting after three weeks on the road.

There’s something about home, whether it be a wooden shack or a planet.

Despite life often seeming to be a bewildering free fall, there’s always home. Hopefully.

Built it myself, you know. (Not the planet, the shack.) Twenty five years and still unfinished. (I lie down a lot.) It still has unlined walls but I’ve had to restump already. I’m eager to feel its warm embrace. (The shack is mostly dry, the continual draught through the curtain door only just tinged with moisture and the scent of rat poo.)

First of all, I have to negotiate the treacherous, slippery path cut into the hill that leads up to my home sweet home. Visitors complain about this path but I feel safe knowing I’ll never be burgled by a disabled person.

I can’t wait to pull off my Levis, empty the sand from my budgie smugglers (yes, I’m still wearing them, and the ocean at Coffs Harbour was an agitated one) and slip into a sarong.

Pulling my swag from the ute, I skip up the track (years of practice) and push through the curtain doors.

She stands there framed by my collection of holy pictures. (They’re mostly of the Virgin with a melancholy smile and a delicate hand pointing to her exposed heart.)

She smiles at me. Her smile is not a melancholy one but rather a joyous, welcoming one that seems to spread beyond the confines of her face and fill the room with a light that triumphs over the rainy gloom.

I’m home. Back in our little shack under the cliffs at the end of the world.

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