Here & Now #16


S Sorrensen

My place. Tuesday, 4.30pm

It doesn’t happen often – a clean-out and rearrangement of my shack under the cliffs.

Actually, this is the first major rearrangement of the shack since this building was born 28 years ago. It’s my shack’s Saturn return, I guess. When Saturn returns, it’s time to take stock and make changes.

But I don’t like changes. I don’t like letting go of stuff.

Having the sun and five planets in Leo makes me very fixed by nature. I’ve worn socks of the same brand and colour for the last 20 years (red). I have voted the same (green) and felt the same about the future (blue).

I don’t like change. I get pissed off when spring becomes summer. You can imagine the issues I have with climate change.

My shack is a humble affair. I built it myself, a decision born from impending fatherhood and poverty. Clad in a work sarong, armed with a noisy generator, guided by Owner Builder and inspired by a smoky naivety, I knocked together a home.

Okay, I never finished it. Once we moved in as a couple (and soon became a trio) my building fervour dissipated. Exposed studs make good shelves. Plastic walls allow lots of light in. I recently had to restump and I haven’t even finished cladding the walls yet.

Shacks, being small, offer limited scope for furniture arrangement. About 28 years ago, I found the most functional positioning of my goods and chattels and they have basically remained like that ever since.

In complete darkness, I can arrive home, push through the curtain door and drop my bag on the table. Without turning on a light, I can find the Billie Holiday record, place it on the turntable and position the needle onto track three. I can select a wine glass from the shelf, fill it with an organic merlot and flop onto the lounge to muse on the lie that is I Get Along Without You Very Well.

I can do all this in the dark because everything is where it has always been. (This is also a handy skill if you’re on solar power and have left the television on all day.)

But a few days ago, I decided to change things.

I don’t know why. Maybe because I haven’t been getting along without you very well. Maybe because Saturn is not just revisiting the shack’s birth chart, but also mine.

Maybe I realised change is the nature of life.

So, I bought a bookcase from Ikea (new experience) and assembled it. Myself. With no help. In less than a day.

Then followed three days of sorting through my books and… stuff. I was determined to get rid of stuff.

Do you know that I have saved every power cord from every electrical device I have ever had? In an uncertain future you never know when you might need a lead to a 1989 12-volt car vacuum cleaner.

But I put it on the growing discard pile.

My box of birthday and Christmas cards collected for 28 years had become a colourful mouse tenement with tinsel bits.

I put it on the pile. I’m letting go.

I moved my lounge and found a smiley-face ball my son lost in the 90s. I moved a television cabinet and found a rat skeleton appended to a rat trap.

Now, the sun is setting on the past.

Outside, a golden light spills across the power cords that crown the summit of a mountain of rubbish that could support a family of scavengers.

Inside, I sit on the old lounge facing in a new direction. It’s my birthday. Billie sings, ‘You’ve changed’. Yes.

I’m thinking blue socks might be fun.


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