Somebody else’s home

Last week I received a call from a real estate agent inviting me to an auction today at a house virtually over the back fence. By odd coincidence I had walked by the same house barely 10 minutes earlier while walking Rigby. I had stopped to read the board, and to admire the house, which seemed the best on the street.

This morning I went along to check it out properly. Walking in I was amazed at how many Asians there were inspecting the property. The next suburb over is Box Hill, which is very much an Asian enclave. Walking through the mall there half of the signs are in Chinese, and about 80% wandering through are Asian. It’s a momentarily strange feeling to be in the ‘burbs of Melbourne and to experience it as foreign. There is still something about it that seems quite Australian – the light perhaps, or perhaps the architecture – and yet it reminds now of China, and Beijing particularly. And so yes, that explains why there were so many Asians examining the property – about 20 of the 25 I saw there – but it still comes as a surprise.

The house itself was beautiful. In many ways it was a conventional, upper middle class home, comfortable without being extraordinary. What lifts homes like this from the ordinary are the lived in quality. You walk in and you sense years of happy family memories, a warm engaging feeling that immediately inclines you to a positive impression. That was present here. It was tidy and beautifully presented, but it was also clear that it was lived in, a guitar in the corner, old paperbacks in the book shelf with their spines cracked, a cookbook lying open, and so on. In my mind at least you conjure up the people who have lived here and now selling, confirmed moments later by a family portrait hanging on the wall.

It was a tastefully, elegantly decorated gome. Beautiful things, neither too few or too many, warm colours, and none of that austere look that has become so common. Lifting it further where decorator items that seemed to have a story behind them – some black and white framed photos of the back streets of some Asian city, perhaps in Vietnam. An antique porcelain bowl,  once more of Asian origin, placed prominently.

I wandered around by myself, deferring to others on the narrow staircase, letting others go before me into the lock-up garage. I was curious as to what it might sell for, but I found more and more my mind moving into another direction.

Once more I felt a kind of existential pang. So this is what you have sacrificed, I thought. It’s not something that had ever occurred to me before. I grew up in a home not dissimilar to this – tasteful, warm, very comfortable. Perhaps it’s the home I thought I would return to as an adult. Instead I’ve gone my own way, deliberately so, and in the process had some great experiences, let alone some stylish pads of my own. Why then did this occur to me now?

I guess I’m in a different state of mind these days. I was conscious as I looked around of a mild sense of regret. You choose one thing at the expense of the other. This is what I had failed to choose, the family home, and all it entails. Was it too late? Of course not. Was it likely? Maybe not.

None of this showed in my face. Amid the crowd there I was the solo visitor, the tall caucasian scrutinising things as if he might myself be a buyer. I was not. I left before the auction. By now it’s somebody else’s home.

IWikipedia: is the ninth letter and a vowel in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

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