Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


November 2013

Big hole

Liz and I arrived in Canberra at close to 6pm on Monday the 11th, after possibly the shortest trip I’ve had coming back from Singapore. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept through most of the flight and coach ride – having a bright-eyed and inquisitive toddler makes that an impossibility lately, but I also think the year’s dramas have finally caught up with me.

In amongst the waiting in queues and the teasing out of technical details relating to my mother’s passing, Liz and I managed to eat and drink very well in Singapore. We even got to do a tiny bit of sightseeing – had another gander at the SEA Aquarium (the world’s biggest, apparently), and a lovely morning at the Art Science Museum. We even took a water taxi through the Singapore river at night, and I got to soak in the ever-changing cityscape with all its gorgeous lights.

It was a fitting close to a chapter in my life that I wish with all my heart didn’t end so soon.

But then I came home to a husband who visibly relaxed as soon as I walked in the door (shoulders easing, anxiety expelled with a sigh and a smile). And I came home to a happy, taller, chattier toddler who now eats more than I do for breakfast. More on her later.

I haven’t had the time to tell you about the dramas we’ve been having with our shoddy plumbing. Our bathrooms have now become places of anxiety and foreboding rather than temporary retreats from the day’s worries. It all started during the packing for Singapore when I realised the carpet in the walk-in robe was damp. About 6 tradies later, the litany of woes read as follows:

  • leaking shower tap
  • leaking shower recesses (BOTH bathrooms)
  • no condensation tray for ducted gas heating unit in roof cavity
  • window treatment in skylight unfinished
  • hole in wall adjoining roof, letting rain in

The first two are especially painful, because now we have a fight on our hands with our insurance company. It’s also going to cost us a pretty penny to fix up two bathrooms. But the biggest lesson in all this, is how you can NEVER rely on just one or two tradesmen to give you a comprehensive idea of what’s going on in your walls… and that God gave you instincts for a reason. The first plumber didn’t even pick up the biggest cause of the leak, which was the leaking shower tap.

Long story short, we now have a gigantic hole in our wall.

Big hole in wall
After all this leaving and cleaving (good-bye Singapore house, good-bye big part of my former life), methinks this gigantic hole is rather metaphorical.

Arddun has been great. She has not fiddled with the hole once, nor felt anyway inclined to hide her toys and treats there. Instead, she tells anyone who will listen that, “It’s a BIG HOLE! Very Very Don’t Touch.”

Actually, Arddun’s been the one constant to lighten the mood around here. It’s hard to feel very sorry for ourselves for too long, when she’s bounding up to you bright and chirpy for a cuddle. She is definitely going through a growth spurt of some sort – polishes off a meal size that I’ve seen other 8-year-olds struggle with, and then asks for fruit. She is still singing all the time, but her latest party trick is to quiz, “WHO’S GOT THE POOS?” before coming up behind me or Tony to yank down our pants for a check.


A kind of hush

It has finally hit me this morning, not quite in its entirety, that this is my last stay in the place I grew up. The flat I called home. The flat that my mother called home, my aunt called home, my grandmother called home. The flat that Shawn, for a little while, lived and grew up in when he just a wee babe, when he was just Arddun’s age. The flat in which my uncle courted my aunt. The flat my father used as home for a while. My nest for 24 years. My mecca, my centre when I returned to Singapore.

I don’t want to leave this place. I don’t want to sell it. I don’t want to rent it. I don’t want to see it languish and die. I don’t want it to lose its market value, its historical value, its sentimental value. I don’t want to lose its memories. I don’t want to give these walls away. These floors away. This unique layout away. I don’t want anyone else to say they now own my mother’s blue kitchen and her built-in robes, I don’t want anyone else to love the views I grew up in, and to call it theirs.

It is unrealistic. It isn’t how I feel every day, but it’s how today feels.

I have seller’s remorse, and the ad hasn’t even hit the papers. But every which way my heart turns, my mind races up to remind and justify. On paper, very logically, in theory… this it the right thing to do. This is the right time to sell. And maybe it might turn out to be the best thing to hold on to the flat for a little while. And maybe it would be the worst thing to do. It is 50-50. My mind tells me that this, like a bandaid, is a milestone in my life that needs to be ripped and gotten over with – the sooner, the better before even more tendrils of connections form.

But as far as bandaids go, this one is hurting very, very much.


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