I’m a smiling melancholic driving through the suburbs with no real destination in mind and a quick look in the rear vision mirror reminds me that I’m all by myself with six empty seats behind me and that in itself is a sign that the times are changing.
Archie Lewis and Tyson are at school and I’ve just dropped barely-beyond toddler Maki at kindergarten and two full hours without kids beckons and yes, I could be cleaning the house right now or writing an article or dipping into the washing basket or macro-vacuuming the goddamn car – or all those things one after the other – but I wasn’t to know that Tears for Fears would start singing Head Over Heels as I pulled out of the kindergarten car park or that I’d be glazed over like this, riding down Plenty Road from Bundoora to Reservoir, like a surfer caught in the currents between two oceans.
When Tears for Fears released this single I was twelve years old and if I was to pick my favourite song for the transition times in my life this would be it. It’s the song for finishing Mortlake high school and missing friends I know I’ll see again some day; the song for waving goodbye to Mum and Dad from the porch of my first share house in Brunswick; the song for Archie, Lewis and Tyson’s first days at school; the song for the void left by the miscarriage that led us to Maki, and here it is again going full bore in my almost empty Tarago to give me a moment of perspective – I’ve got a dose of the in-betweens.
Lately I’ve been shuffling a little slower through the day where once I’d have been rushing against the clock and panicking about the shopping or the cleaning and there’s more than just ten years of domestic monotony in that. It’s been dawning on me – in a less than fully conscious way – that my kids will all be school age in eighteen months.
I’m singing “I’m lost in admiration could I need you this much” and there goes the entrance to the Bundoora Children’s farm where Maki and I spent three hours together, just on a whim, last Tuesday. We were wide-eyed at the big fat pigs and spinning on the spot to follow the aggressive-eyed turkey and dropping a bottle of milk to smack away the goats in their feeding frenzy and there was lots of squealing and laughing and it’s not the first time we’ve done that together but we are getting closer to the last time and the honest truth is I have no real interest in all of that stink and farmery. I’m only going to miss it, one day, because I was there with Maki.
Maki starts four year old kinder next year which means fifteen hours away from me every week, instead of four, and the year after that he’s out the door to Primary School with his brothers and here I am with just a taste of that significant change, noticing the six empty seats behind me as much as I’m anticipating what I’ll fill the time and space with.
There’s writing that comes to mind, as always, but maybe without sacrificing the night, and I have this contempt for what I sacrificed to housework these past ten years and if I could go back to 2005 I’d smack a fist at the air and say hey housework you arsehole, stop twittering in my ear all day, take your place down my list of priorities. You can sit in the dark and pull out your own feathers, or learn to wait. I have several dusty novels to rewrite and edit and some new story ideas and the buzz is strong just thinking about it because I’m a creative obsessive and yeah, housework demons or not, I guess the night might just have to stay sacrificed.
I’m turning into Dunne Street on auto-pilot because I’ve done it so many times and there must have been a mini time-warp because I’m already driving over the bridge and there, to my left, is the Darebin Creek bike path I fast-walked with two-year old Lewis on my shoulders trying to get to Archie who was stalled on a concrete incline, wobbling from training wheel to training wheel, and just beyond that point, overhanging the water, is the weeping willow that sprinkled sunlight around us like a sieve while we searched for rocks and slipped along the muddy embankment.
The sun’s entering this big empty Tarago like strobe light right now and my emotions are flaring under it’s influence as Tears For Fears are singing ‘Something happens and I’m head over heals/I never find out till I’m head over heals’ and I have this sense of time passing; all the times I’ve travelled this single suburban street are coming together like the shuttering frames of a super 8 home movie – a little silent, a little sad.
This is the kind of song I listen to while my eyes are filming over for yesterday but wide open and drying for tomorrow. A laugh and sob; a few extra minutes in the shower, several extra breaths sitting on the end of the bed after the socks have been pulled on; time alone in an eight seater car driving through Reservoir turning up Bolderwood Parade and… well, why not… I’m just going to drive right past home and cruise the streets with Tears for Fears on repeat, man.
In less than two hours it’ll be time to head back to kindergarten where I’ll fill at least one of those six seats behind me and feel the charge of a home-coming because, although a lot has changed since 1985 – when Tears for Fears released this song –it’s pretty clear that nothing has really changed about me. I’m a hopeless romantic with a penchant for melancholy and I’m broken hearted at every change.
Right now Maki’s anchoring me to the currents between two oceans but it’s only a matter of time before he breaks free and I cross over. I want him to hear this song too.