One place I often find my writing muse lingering is in my childhood. This morning when I looked at one of the photographs at the above the link I was transported back through the years. The photo that moved me was the small one on the left of a mossy stone wall. It reminded me of a time in my childhood that I can still vividly recall.
When I was six my mother had some kind of breakdown (the first of many). Of course I didn’t realise what was going on at the time but only knew I was being sent from the island of Tasmania to stay with my grandmother on the mainland. My father took me to the airport, told the air hostess I was travelling alone and left me. I remember flying high over Bass Strait and looking down to see the sapphire sea far below. I remember being mortified when I threw up into a paper bag and had to hand it to the air hostess – I had been trying so hard to impress her with my sophistication.
I know no longer recall the details of how I was transported from Melbourne airport to my grandmother’s house. She was always one for grand gestures so I imagine she bundled me into a taxi and carried on like the Queen of England to the taxi driver. She was a flighty artist type with flamboyant tastes and manners to match. Every time I visited her when I was young child she lived in a different house. In those days she was living off a hefty inheritance and the houses were always extraordinary. At the time of my visit from Tasmania she was living in a rambling, crumbling mansion of a house that had seen grander days. The place was white and set in a vast lime green lawn. Moody dark pines formed a dense hedge around it that screened out the outside world.
My memory of the visit is patchy. Somehow I made friends with the little boy who lived next door and we spent a lot of time together. I was a strange dreamy child who did not make friends easily. I remember feeling an affinity with this boy. We both found life to be magical.
One afternoon we were sitting in a courtyard at the side of my grandmother’s house. The bench we sat on was white concrete. The house wall behind us was white stucco. The area we sat in was paved in white stone. In the centre of it was a disused fountain. The water in it was emerald green. It had a thick, viscous quality. As we sat there discussing this strange water my grandmother appeared bearing two tall glasses of green lemonade. Straws bobbed in the sticky liquid as she passed them to us. When she left us the boy and I exchanged a look. The lemonade was exactly the same colour as the water in the pond. I can remember us sitting there solemnly sipping our drinks as if the moment had a profound and ritualistic significance.
The rest of my time at that house has faded from my mind and I have never yet understood what the significance of that memory is.
(- just how I get my writing muse to come out of my memories and write fiction is beyond me right now.)