My soundtrack has changed. Instead of intermittent sirens up and down Bloor or Yonge Streets 24 hours a day I’ve noticed I can hear birds chirping, an occasional car along Guildford Rd or most of the time: silence. Perth suburbs are much quieter than downtown Toronto. We’ve spent the week moving back in, physically but also psychologically. Subconsciously we’ve slipped into our pre-Canada life of pottering around the house and watching Midsomer Murders on ABC on a Saturday night. All we need is Smudge back and it would be like we’d never been away. I’m not sad anymore but I’m not especially happy either, just comfortable. In familiarity. And exhausted. I’ve walked across to 8th Avenue for coffee several times, watching my sneakers crunch on the gravel behind the church as I take the shortcut home.
I’ve spent the week alternating between unpacking, a box or two at a time (the dust makes my hands and eyes itchy), and weeding the garden. In the two years we’ve been gone the tenant kindly installed reticulation, which kept the vegetable beds watered, but the weeds as well. The lawn roots from the roll-on lawn had died and I’d pulled out have thrived under, over and through the weed mat I’d meticulously laid out. Thankfully the mulch is easily swept aside and weeded. The weed mat is easily ripped up and discarded. I’ve got to thin out the dead vines on the lattice and plant some new vines. I’ve made cuttings from the rosemary bushes, which are overgrown and due to be pulled out. Walter helped me assemble Alison’s chainsaw (what Daniel’s 93-year-old grandmother who uses a frame to walk wants a chainsaw for is a mystery). Wally cut down the Japanese pepper which has grown like a weed in front of our verandah, a tree the tenant had proudly planted and nurtured.
This morning we walked up Guildford Rd to the Speedlite Cycles store. Our old bicycles weren’t worth repairing so we test rode new bicycles. I wanted to move from a straight-handlebar to a more performance racer frame, with the curved handlebar. We spent more than an hour consulting Dion, the Bike Guy, who was very chilled. We both chose bicycles on sale, last year’s frames, We chose new helmets; our old helmets have somehow melted and faded in storage. I made sure to get a mudguard for my rear wheel (I’m sick of arriving at work with a line of splattered dirt up the centre of my shorts, shirt and backpack like a spurt of vertical diarrhoea). The bikes are on lay-by for now, until either our replacement cards arrive or if my new VISA application is approved.
I’ve powered through unpacking boxes, finding so many things that I don’t know why I’ve kept: every single piece of paper that I’d jotted down notes while reporting in my 5 years of specialty training, my handwritten logs of every single telephone call I’d received in my 5 years of specialty training, every single bank statement since my first bank account in Primary School. I accidentally was too ruthless and threw out the receipts from my salary packaging which I should keep for 7 years, according to Australian taxation laws. Confidential paperwork I gave Mum to use as kindling for their next bonfire, so I hope they’re not already up in flames.
I’ve found my flamenco boots and castanets, which is useful as the new term at The Dance Workshop starts on Monday. My former High School classmate Deanna, is still teaching the Monday night Advanced Flamenco Class. She reckons I’d be able to keep up. I’m not as certain. I never got around to any technique classes in Toronto, despite living up the road from the Ballet School on Jarvis Street. If I can leave work by 17:00 on a Monday (unlikely) I can enrol in the 17:30 adult ballet classes too. I’d better do that before I restart my Warcraft account.