Our celebrations have been tinged with a sense of undeniable loss this week, as we closed the front door for the final time on our old house.
Selling the house was cause for celebration; the ‘loss’ was suffered by the old man who was forced to farewell his leaking shed and the facilities of Kimbriki Tip.
I’ve mentioned the old man’s questionable fascination with Kimbriki Tip before; his home from home. (Why Gardening Can Lead To Divorce.)
My husband is a man caver, (like my son is currently aspiring to be). Man caving is apparently a fairly common pastime of a lot of middle-aged men, who allocate more of their free time to their man caves than to their children at the weekend.
His distress was evident as we began the final stages of de-cluttering the house, and my heart almost broke as I watched him tearfully clear out his
crap precious artefacts from the shed.
That shed held a myriad of good and bad memories for him. It had been his smoking bolthole when he thought none of us knew, our dumping ground for things that had no other home, but most importantly, it was his own precious man-space.
When we first bought the house and planned the renovations needed to create our dream home, (that is, before we got the quotes), I remember him saying to me, ‘Build what you like, Lou, I just want a shed.’
So I gave him his shed, although admittedly it did have one minor design fault in that it was slightly prone to attracting water in wet weather.
Hence the money allocated in our renovation budget to my spangly cushions and weathered oak beach furniture had to be spent on drainage solutions for that fucking shed. None of which worked. And it was only when the old man, either in desperation or because his cave issues had sent him barking fucking mad, suggested a moat, that I finally pulled the plug on financing that useless piece of corrugated iron crap and bought him a pair of wellies instead.
Nerd Child backed me up (for once), helpfully reminding her father of the physics involved in the relationship between water and an un-level garden. Apparently water will always travel downhill and if a shed is foolishly located at the bottom of a garden, (and in a suburb renowned for some of the wettest weather in Sydney), the shed will not always remain dry underfoot. It was a poignant moment in their relationship when she put a comforting arm around his neck and said, ‘it’s time to give it up, Dad.’
So with a white elephant for a shed, the old man was forced to source another man cave and Kimbriki Tip fitted his criteria, becoming his refuge for the next six years.
If he had a bad week at work, he consoled himself at the tip; when things got stressful at home, he scarpered off to the tip.
Which is why it was with such a very heavy heart that we dumped the final load of our shit at the tip on Sunday. As we passed through the first barrier and saluted Dave, there was a weighty silence in the car, only broken by the old man’s observation of, ‘fuck me, they’ve increased the charge for general waste to $15’.
Security is worse than at JFK Airport at Kimbriki Tip. An unfounded sense of guilt assaults the nervous system even when you know you aren’t concealing any paint pots under your veg, and the body twitches uncontrollably in the effort of trying to appear as normal as possible as you pass through the two Gestapo checkpoints.
I always imagined some Bond-esque action sequence taking place as I waited in that queue nervously. I envisaged this army of helicopters suddenly whirring into life overhead and the garbage men ripping off their yellow fluorescent vests to reveal Federal police uniforms, if we actually dared secrete some illegal paint pots, (or heaven forbid, a car battery), into the vegetation section.
The old man shared many memories with me on that car journey back home. It was obviously cathartic for him, yet it was still an uncharacteristic display of emotion from a very proud man. He spoke of his disappointment that the council had never offered a membership policy for Kimbriki, some sort of loyalty card for people like him, who needed its sense of community. He talked of his fears for the empty weekends ahead, the loss of his two man-sanctuaries that had been so close to his heart.
I can feel his anxiety building as we prune our new rose bushes. His initial enthusiasm for our new maintenance-free courtyard with its few pathetic shrubs has been replaced by a concern that trips to the tip will no longer be warranted. And there is nowhere to ‘dwell’ in the courtyard.
After six years of raking leaves, cursing at fallen Gum branches and Paper bark and wading through a waterlogged shed, it is the end of an era.
Man seeking new man cave.