After my parents split up when I was about six, my mum and younger sister and I moved to Queensland, and my dad stayed in Victoria. I remember at his house we had bunk beds, a Sesame Street clock that taught kids how to tell the time, and a bookshelf packed to the brim with my books. I think they must have been mine before the move, because I remember having something similar when my parents were together, but it was yellow. I don’t really know… all I know is that I loved it. There was one little book that had illustrations in it, and every time I visited, I very diligently took a fresh sheet of paper and copied an illustration onto it. I only ever did one, and then I put the book back on the shelf for next time. I never skipped ahead, and never did an illustration twice. I have no idea why I was so rigid about it.
I also remember having a ton of art and craft materials, my pop was a schoolteacher, and every year for Christmas would buy us shopping bags full of arty things and many, many books. I remember having a huge stack of coloured square-shaped pieces of paper and I spent many hours teaching myself origami from an old book I had. We had Derwent artist pencils, oil pastels, paints and glitter crayons. As I spent some Christmas holidays with my dad, and that’s the only time we ever saw him, I remember it always being full of books, art and craft. And electronics. And my bike. My red bike with a red glitter banana seat and streamers hanging from the handlebars. It also had one of those crazy orange flags on the back, on a tall white stick. It must have been all the rage in the mid-80s, safety-conscious parents buying them along with Stackhats for us all. My dad insisted I have that flag on at all times, but also insisted I never ride outside our yard… go figure.
I don’t remember when I lost my bookshelf full of books, or my bike. But I remember it from time to time, just like I always have in the twenty-something years since then. The loss of a whole bookshelf of books is not something to be grieved lightly. No bloody wonder I hoard them now.