“The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” Alan W Watts
When friends of ours bought a property 600kms from where they currently live (and unseen by the wife), it brought back memories. Change challenges us and often we need to dig deep to come through smiling.
We (meaning my husband) had been looking to purchase properties in our district for some time. We had gone to several auctions, placed bids and even been the losing bidder at one.
It wasn’t meant to be and so we (as in my husband again) started to look at options further away. In the end we bought a property in the Blackall district in 2001.
Warning sign number one
The house had been empty for some time before we moved there. It had been part of a large company operation and my husband was not allowed inside any buildings during the inspection.
Warning sign number two
His comments to me about the house were: “It looks alright from the outside. It is about a 20-year-old house with a good drinking verandah”.
Using that description, whatever image you have of what the house actually looked like will be wrong.
Warning sign number three
We arrived at the property late at night and tired. The house was locked but there was no key. So we broke in, went to bed and didn’t take much notice. Then we woke up and I honestly didn’t know where to start.
Owen (my husband) had driven the truck out, and my mother had come along to keep me company on the drive out.
Her first words were: “It’s not that bad”. Mine were: “Yes it is”.
You see the ’20 year old house’ my husband had told me about was really a house built in the 1920s.
The painters must also not have been refused entry into any buildings. Even the windows were only painted on one side.
The first job I remember doing was scrubbing a wide enough section of the ceiling in the main bedroom above where the bed was to go so that I would not be sleeping under a cloud of mould. It’s amazing what you do when you have no other choice.
Fortunately we both knew ‘why’ we were there. But here is the thing. My ‘why’ was not the same as my husband’s.
The Honest Truth
You see we did not end up at Blackall just because the properties in our local area were too expensive for us to afford. In our case there was another factor.
My husband wanted the opportunity to do what his father and grandfather had done. He wanted to buy a piece of country, develop it and turn it into a productive grazing property. The blocks around us were all developed. There was not a lot of scope for him to put his mark on any of them.
He had a dream. I didn’t.
The situation is no different for many women. There are things we do at times simply because we are supporting our partner. Yes I was part of it, but the truth is it was not my baby.
I loved and believed in him and his abilities and willingly packed up my car and began a new adventure. It was just the two of us (and my dog) on 67,000 acres and life threw us some pretty tough tests.
It was really, really tough at times.
The true meaning of teamwork
It was my husband’s dream but we are a team. We worked together and, as tough as it was, we are better people and a stronger couple as a result.
It wasn’t about willpower or grit either. That isn’t what got us through.
We learnt about what is important and that some things in life aren’t fun or fair and there is nothing you can do about it. I learnt sometimes you have to cry and that’s ok.
The pain, the frustration and the tough moments force you to choose, to clarify your values and decide how you will react.
I learnt about the importance of friendship and community in rural areas. I have met truly inspirational people who generously shared their wisdom, offering kind words and encouraging suggestions.
We worked on that house, we worked down the paddock, we worked on our relationship and we never gave up.
It’s about knowing your limits.
When faced with the thought of living with orange, white and brown shag-pile carpet there are few options available. Fortunately I ignored my husband’s suggestion ‘better the devil you know’ as I started to rip up the carpet in the dining room.
The room filled with dust (and other unimaginable gross things) but thankfully under the Bernie boards were hoop pine floorboards in great condition. From there, we went room by room ripping up the old disgusting carpets.
Happy Dance number one
I learnt to celebrate the small wins, back myself and shield myself from other’s negativity.
Together we faced many challenges. Moving to Blackall, battling with government departments, dealing with droughts, distance education and the many other challenges did test us, both as individuals and a couple.
As for joining in the dancing, we did that too. There are times when the song choice was terrible and I would have given anything to change the tune. Sometimes I needed to leave the dance floor for a while. But most importantly, although he didn’t always have the best moves, I never wanted to change my dance partner.