A Year of Journaling / Week 3
A second buyer comes to inspect the Land Rover. A pair of buyers, in fact. Husband and wife. They arrive in the evening, just as we sit down to dinner with my parents. Rick goes out to greet them, and they stay outside for about half an hour. By the time they come inside, mum and I are already loading up the dishwasher. I can tell by Rick’s expression and body language that the sale is going well.
‘Welcome!’ I say as I rush over to greet them.
‘This is Nathan and Jane,’ says Rick.
‘Nice to meet you both,’ I say.
We chat together briefly, and Rick explains that Nathan and Jane actually live just up the road from our old house.
‘It’s meant to be,’ Jane says. I smile back at her.
For the next half an hour, Rick sits with Nathan and Jane at our dining table (already cleared from dinner), sorting out bank transfers, paperwork, and insurance. I make cups of tea and bring these over to our guests. At the coffee table, my dad is being challenged to chess—first by Gus, then Jamie, then Gus again. My mum potters about, cleaning up the kitchen on my behalf. Pete works away on the IQ Challenges workbook that I gave him earlier in the afternoon, and Bear and Lewis have chosen to watch episodes of Bluey on ABC iView.
The house is very full, and it feels…good.
Before Nathan and Jane drive off with our Land Rover, we tell the boys to go and say bye to the car. They all rush outside, somewhat shocked that their beloved ‘big car’ has actually been sold. As I help Lewis to put his shoes on, I look over and see that Gus, Pete, and Bear are hugging and kissing the car, much like that they did with the walls at our old house before we moved.
Jamie looks heartbroken and crestfallen. His face has completely crumpled. ‘Why do you have to sell it? Why...?’ I go over to hug him, but he pushes me away.
The boys all jump inside the Land Rover one last time. It is bittersweet to watch. One thing is for sure: we made many beautiful memories with this car. I snap as many photos as I can to preserve the moment.
Later, when the boys are back inside with my parents, I ask Nathan to take a photo of Rick and me in front of the car. Rick is close to tears, and I am too. We shake hands with them, then stand back as Jane climbs into the front seat.
Behind us, Jamie comes back outside and, as the Land Rover drives away, he begins to run after the car. Rick grabs his shoulders, and they cling onto each other as the car disappears up the road and out of our lives forever.
At bedtime, I approach Jamie somewhat hesitantly to say goodnight. As I lean down to kiss him, his arms come up to reach for me. I breathe a sigh of relief, and we embrace each other for a long time.
‘I love you mum,’ he whispers into my neck.
‘I love you, my darling boy. It’s okay to feel sad. I feel sad about it too...’
We hug some more, then I leave him to sleep.
I wake early for a Saturday morning—earlier than Rick, in fact.
By half past nine, I am out of the house. I drive straight to Meze Me and order Turkish toast with harissa potatoes, sujuk sausage, and halloumi cheese. For the next four hours, I write and write. And write some more. I write until I have caught up on all my journaling.
As I prepare to leave the restaurant, it dawns on me that I need a more disciplined approach. Or more specifically, I need to sit down and write at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit rather than a task. I quickly rule out evenings, since that’s the time when I actually do work. But the mornings are tricky too because the boys are up, and there’s nowhere in the house where I can hide and write without them knowing I’m awake.
I think back to our old home, where I had turned our walk-in wardrobe (and later also, the tiny under-the-stairs cupboard) into a writing sanctuary. All of a sudden, I realise that I have found my answer: I need a desk in my wardrobe so that I can write in the mornings without being disturbed.
Before I go, I quickly search online for something inexpensive and suitable. Within minutes, I find a small writing desk from Kmart for seventy-nine dollars. Perfect! I also remember that I have a spare chair still at Peter and Mary’s place. I send Mary a text, asking if she can bring it for me on Sunday.
Back at home, I share my idea with Rick and spend the rest of the afternoon clearing out the picture frames at the end of our walk-in. I put a couple up on Facebook for sale and bring another down to the garage. Rick, as always, is amused—but not at all surprised.
‘I’ll pick it up for you tomorrow,’ he offers.
‘Thank you, darling!’
In the evening, I start writing the first scene for my imaginary dialogue with Cameron. It is much harder than I expected, and I go to sleep that night full of emotion and angst...
I dream of my own writing: I see my words floating about, but they are blurry. I try to grab them—to mould them into something tangible—but they elude me.
We go back to church for the first time since our holiday. It is wonderful to see everyone again. Rick leads one of the Sunday school programs while I help out with creche. Lewis asks me quite a few times, ‘Are you staying, mummy?’ ‘Yes, my darling,’ I tell him. ‘Now go play!’
In the afternoon, Rick picks up a writing desk from Kmart then spends an hour or less building it with Gus. When they show it to me, I am delighted. We position it against the end wall in our walk-in wardrobe, just as I envisioned. I add only a few decorative touches: a framed print by Bianca Cash, a small willow branch in an amber glass bottle, and a black USB light from IKEA. Later, when Peter and Mary arrive with my chair, my new secret writing room is complete.
At night, I finish writing up the first scene for my imaginary dialogue with Cameron. I read over it many times, drawn in by the make-believe world that I have created. I am proud of the final piece.
Later, when Rick and I are on the couch together, I show it to him.
I watch his face as he reads. For the most part, he is expressionless. But then, right at the end, his face crumples.
‘I never really thought about doing all that stuff with Cameron,’ he says quietly.
‘I know…’ I wrap my arms around his neck. ‘I think that’s why I’ve found it so emotional writing this. It’s one thing to think of him as a baby. But it’s another to realise that there is a twelve-year-old missing from our family and our lives...’
We stay silent for a while.
‘Do you like it?’ I ask.
’Yes, I do. It works. You should keep at it...’
I spend the day writing on Pete’s bed, with the Vool on my lap. It is not comfortable, but it is warm. Unlike other parts of the house, the morning sun streams in through the windows, and it is glorious.
Almost eight hours later, I have only written 800 words. It is frustrating, to say the least. The warm sunshine did nothing to assist with my productivity.
In the evening, when the boys are in bed, I retreat to my secret writing room in the wardrobe. I think of it as my ‘Cubbyhole’ because in Amy Tan’s book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, the main character, Ruth, has a tiny pantry-turned-office, and that’s what she calls it.
In the seclusion of the small room, my words flow with great ease. Even though it is our ‘night off’, I spend close to ninety minutes writing in the Cubbyhole. Later, when my words are done, I join Rick downstairs to finish watching Iron Man together.
Having learnt my lesson from yesterday, I spend my working day in the Cubbyhole. One by one, I tackle all the website pages that need to be written: The ‘Prompts’ page—check. The ‘Design’ page—check. The ‘Artworks’ page—check. The ‘About’ page—check.
The end is finally in sight.
At dinnertime, I realise just how exhausted I am. Not just from the day, but from the intensity of the past week. While the boys shower and bath, I fall asleep on Pete’s bed, waking up just in time to kiss the younger boys goodnight before they succumb to their own slumber.
The entire day feels disjointed. I spend most of my time driving to and from school. Thankfully, I have a two-hour window in the middle of the day. I rush home and disappear immediately into my Cubbyhole. By the time I emerge, I have written the text for my ‘Home’ page, and I have started proofreading everything.
In the evening, we discover that Lewis has lost Bunny, his bedtime companion. We look all over the house, opening every cupboard and drawer and even scouring the garage for the cherished toy.
Lewis is devastated, and Rick needs to go out. Somehow, I convince Lewis to stay in bed with a ‘replacement bunny’ while I continue to search the house. Fifteen minutes later, there is still no sign of Bunny. Lewis has—miraculously—fallen asleep, so I return to my editing.
Later, when Rick is back home, Lewis wakes up, distraught that Bunny is still missing. Rick manages to settle him back to sleep, but we both brace ourselves for a long night ahead.
The Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers arrives in the mail. I pore over it as I drink my morning coffee. Within an hour, I have made my final editing decisions regarding the em dash, the Oxford comma, quotation marks, and ellipses.
Back in my Cubbyhole upstairs, I re-edit both the blog posts and the website copy with the punctuation updates. Even though I still have one more item left to write, it feels immensely satisfying to finally ‘finalise’ everything else.
At quarter to twelve, I drive to Meze Me to meet up with Carla for my belated birthday lunch. We both order the Moroccan chicken and basturma salad with roasted pumpkin, halloumi, cranberries, and rocket. For two hours, we chat and laugh—it is amusing even to us how similar we are. I am thankful to have found a friend in Carla.
When Carla leaves, I take out my laptop to work on the final item on my list: the second scene of my imaginary dialogue with Cameron. I have brought the shell along—the one that appears in the scene. I turn it around in my hand, feeling the jagged edges as I do. Slowly, the ideas come, as do the words. I can see Cameron so clearly in the scene. It is as if he truly exists.
In the evening, I archive the old blog posts before publishing the new ones. I double-check all the links, then press ‘publish’ on the entire site.
I sit back, and breathe.
I did it.
Before we sleep, I show it to Rick. He reads through every page and every post, silent as he does.
‘What do you think?’ I ask.
He smiles. ‘I'm proud of you, Ronnie...’
You can read the other posts in this series here.