It’s a nice room, full of sun-bleached photos of children now grown and memorabilia of other lives. It is comfortable and light. Runners and dog walkers throng the path across the road. Families and bicycles roll silently past the window. Glimpses of the dunes, ocean beyond. Big block, lots of gum trees. The boy and I play yard cricket some days.
The big gum across the road had a resident koala for a few days. People stopping and pointing up at its furry bottom, wedged in a fork. A lucky few saw it move. Once, as the boy and I stared upwards, it lifted its head; languid, stoned on eucalyptus. Saw an echidna, too. Curled up asleep at the border between scrub and beach. A young woman in Doc Martins, all in black at summer noon, pointed it out as she called back her dog. I was going to write a story about that because she was pretty and stuck out on the white sand like an emo princess in snow. I didn’t, of course.
Creativity expands into space, that’s the idea. A notion clung to, like flotsam on the sea. Or hidden behind, as a bulwark against lack of discipline. And now there is space. Wandering about in it, I seem to have bumped into myself. A paunchy koala stuck in a tree. How much of the low mood is the legacy of the past year? How much the miserable portents? How much the entropy of middle age? Standing on a low sandbar in the narrow estuary, I watch the creek outflow meet the incoming tide. It is turning, small wavelets just strong enough to hold the freshwater current, creating a momentary standing wave. For a second, all is in stasis but all moves; water, salt, sand, strands of seaweed in a stationary dance. Incoming and outgoing in dynamic embrace. Maybe that’s what middle age is. Exploring the moment when the glass is both half-full and half empty; being scared to drink in case the balance is upset, but knowing that it will evaporate anyway.