Sunday, 22 April 2012
We went to a wedding last weekend. Back in Albany, where we first fell in love. The ceremony was at Western Australia's oldest farm, its heritage stone and slate buildings and cottage gardens a backdrop for the wedding vows. We dropped the boys off at Grandma's house afterwards and spent a sunny Saturday afternoon lounging around at the relaxed reception in a little cafe. When I lived in Albany it was a derelict old general store that had served lunches to the woolen mill workers. I lived three doors down, in a tumbledown cottage next to the old hospital that is now the town's arts centre. As I walked to and from work each day I would watch the building's transformation and chat to the new owner as she planted parsley down the side of the drive. It opened just before I left town. I had a cup of tea there before I packed my bags and moved back to work in the city.
I held Lewis and Darcy's hands and Quinn held onto me with his whole body as we watched the bride walk through the trees and commit herself to her groom. Grant stood behind us. It felt like we had come full circle, back to where it all began. We slipped out of the reception to walk down the footpath back to my old home, past the lemon tree through whose branches I would wave to Grant in the bedroom window one last time as I tripped off to work in the morning. Albany was a different town then. The potholed carpark behind the newspaper's old printing press is now home to a bustling farmers' market each Saturday morning. Back then the press still printed newspapers.
The wind used to whistle through that house on winter nights. They said you could hear the ghosts of the women who had died in the asylum next door, but I only ever heard the toot of the trains as they rumbled past to the port in the night and the patter of rain in the puddles outside my window. We would huddle in front of the fire in the kitchen and go to bed early.
Chooks used to scratch in our backyard beneath the clothesline. The vegetable garden we dug has long since been swallowed by the grass and the fence that divides the garden and the arts centre grounds is falling down. We slipped through the gap to take a photo and watched the boats scudding across the harbour from the lawn. Walking back to the wedding hand in hand, as guitar and mandolin mingled with the hum of voices from the verandah, I felt like we really had come home. We waved goodbye to the bride and groom as they walked away up the hill and then drove back to Grandma's house to find the boys already in the bath.