2. The day I left home.


Firstly, I have to explain a little something about myself. Since I was a little girl, I have loved the sensation that comes with the decision to move. I blame my mother, who would often rearrange the furniture in a pique of boredom and/or restlessness. Oh, how I loved walking into a room that had been taken apart and put back together in a different way. Those first two or three seconds of complete confusion tinged with excitement. I loved moving house as a child. Even the unpacking and the terrible week of disorganisation and mess that followed was worth it. My husband wants to get a gypsy head tattoo on his arm with my face. I’m iffy about this idea, because I’m not sure about how I’d look in a headscarf, and also, I think he just wants another tattoo.


My first big move came at 16 when I decided to move away from Wellington, where I lived with my two sisters, my mother and my step-father, to Auckland, to live with my dad, step-mother and toddler-aged brother. When I look back at events that shaped my future, those forks in the road that will determine the rest of your life – well, this has to be one of the biggies. My adult self often wonders what on earth I was thinking by doing that. I left my school, where I was a good student and had lots of friends, my sisters, and my mum. I can only think that the restlessness and itch to see new things that still plagues me now must have set in. There is very little I can do about it when that happens. It’s like an ache, deep in my bones.

My second move came two years later when I left a handwritten note for my dad to say that I had left home. I was 18. Another decision that my adult self shakes her head at. I don’t like to think of myself as a person who moves out, leaving nothing but a note. My teens and early twenties are littered with selfish decisions like that.  I had wanted out for at least a year; I’d been collecting kitchen utensils and crockery from op shops for months, stashing them under my bed in an old suitcase. I was desperate to live on my own. I wanted to shop for food and buy bed linen, cook dinners and walk around an empty house knowing that no one was about to arrive home. Now, it’s hard to remember living in a way that was so small. My world consisted of me and my boyfriend. It was as though everything else existed slightly outside of time. When my daughter meets her first love, I’m going to try to pull her back into the real world. I don’t want her to get swallowed by it like I was. Hey, I said I’ll try. As for her moving out, my husband and I are secretly hatching plans involving granny flats and separate entrances that will hopefully keep our children with us for a long, long, time. The crazy Sydney housing market might have some positives after all.

My third big move came in 2010, when we left home. We flew to Australia to begin a new life.

My first move was about adventure. I still love new things. I love moving much less now that I have children.

My second move was about freedom. I still love having the house to myself more than just about anything. I’m still deeply attached to my concept of ‘home’.

My third move was a mix of both. We wanted new things and we wanted to create a home for our children that matched the one we held onto so tightly in our imaginations.

And now? I think I’m done moving. Travel – absolutely. But moving your things and your children and your life? I’ve had enough of that. I always said that when I finally settled down I would get a tattoo of an anchor on my foot.

Maybe it’s time to make that appointment.

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