Home has always been a very fluid word for me, because I’ve always lived a pretty transient life. Having a father who worked in the armed forces for the larger part of his career, I was moved around a lot as a child. This followed through into my adulthood, never staying in one city or town for longer than a few years through a fear of becoming stale. But if I had to settle on calling one place my childhood home, it would be Port Stephens.
Living in the locality between the ages of 10 to 18, I fantasied about the day I would finally leave. The area felt claustrophobic to me. No one had any secrets. It was too small a place for secrets to remain hidden. I knew who was doing drugs or doing the dirty, so surely others knew about what I was desperately trying to conceal as well. For a teenager who often wagged school and hung out with the older kids pulling bucket bongs in the sand dunes, I wanted out.
I fled when I was 18 and barely looked back. Until this year. And for the first time in over 15 years I can finally return and appreciate the beauty of the place. It is no longer a place which feels claustrophobic, but a place I am rediscovering.
When you’re a teenager you couldn’t care less about the serenity of the beach at sunset or the smell of the salt in the air, or even the random pieces of furniture hiding in the marshes. Now it feels quite special.
With my husband and my mother by my side we took to the harbour, drank too much wine and saw in a new day on top of Tomaree Mountain.
I look forward to when we can do it again.