Contentment comes with a downsized ‘want’ list
If I’m to be entirely honest, I was slightly exhilarated when told that the plans had turned to custard.
It’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend or that I didn’t like the people I was going with. It’s simply that cancellation of the weekend meant I didn’t have to bother packing, driving or making arrangements for the dogs.
More significantly, it meant I could revert to my favourite pastime – pottering around the house and engaging in unremarkable domestic business.
Prune the roses. Wash the clothes. Fill the bird feeders. Water the pots. Snooze the afternoon away.
It sounds terribly tedious, I admit, but I love the humdrum of my predictable existence.
In truth, I have turned into a boring old homebody, who craves peace, quiet and my own company.
It wasn’t always like that, however. There was a time when I yearned for excitement and all the material possessions I didn’t have.
When I was 10, I ached for a horse. Somewhere along the way, I’d encountered Anna Sewell’s novel Black Beauty. Then when I became a dedicated My Friend Flicka fan, I was well and truly hooked on the romantic notion of owning a horse.
I campaigned hard, but romance met reality. My ever-practical father was quite unmoved.
“A horse eats three times as much as a cow,” he said, and that was the end of it. It was never discussed again.
I traded horseflesh for bricks and mortar not long after.
Mater Prize homes had been built in Brisbane since 1954. By the 1960s throngs of people were queueing up on weekends to visit the latest “brand new architecturally-designed dream home”, as they were described in the glossy coloured inserts in the daily rags. I remember falling in love with the first Mater home I visited.
It was a towering two-storey job, massive to the eye of a child from the bush. It was made from gleaming white brick and crowned with a tiled roof as blue as Twiggy’s eyeshadow.
It had everything our little farm house didn’t. I was mesmerised by the neatness of the gleaming white quartz in the driveway and the pristine garden beds. The lounge had cream shag carpet, so impractical yet so luxurious.
There was floral wallpaper, built-in cupboards, pictures on the walls, a shower in the bathroom and a tiled floor in the laundry. The Mater home was in Aspley or perhaps Bill Bowden’s “Little Aspley” – Strathpine.
It must have been summer because waiting outside was a pink and white Mr Whippy Van, catering to an eager line-up of children and adults wanting soft-serve ice-cream.
Although I preferred the more familiar Mr Frosty, the purveyor of soft-serve treats that trawled the Brisbane of my childhood, I was delighted to have a coin pushed into my palm by an indulgent uncle and skipped off to join the queue.
As I grew older, Mater homes were replaced with other serious longings. As a teenager, I craved independence and a car of my own.
As a young mother, all I wanted was a good night’s sleep, someone to cook a meal for me and a leather lounge.
At university, I was obsessed with good grades and end of semester celebrations. In my 40s and 50s, I wanted travel, career progression, nights out and a big salary to pay off the mortgage.
And now I’m a down-sizing ageing hermit who tells her kids not to buy anything for her birthday because “I have everything I want and more than I need”.
I’m content and thankful. It’s a pretty good place to be.