Lachlan Marnoch, 2018
I was born on September 25, 1994. Like most people I don’t remember that part very well. My parents were renting a place in Bowral, New South Wales, so that was my first home. I also don’t remember that, because we moved away soon after - my only memory of the house is peering out at it from the car when we drove past years later for kicks.
Anyway, my first real house was in Mittagong, Bowral’s twin in the shadow of Mount Alexandra. It was where I had my first pet and my first kiss. It’s also where I stepped in dog poo barefoot trying to avoid a wasp. I cried.
I cried a lot as a kid. I guess I still do - it helps to have a good bawl in the bedsheets every now and then. I’d cry because I lost my hat (an all-too-frequent happening), or if things just didn’t go my way. After we moved to Exeter I cried at my first soccer training when Andrew Frost scored a goal against me even though he was supposed to be on my team. I think, anyway. I might’ve just gotten confused.
I didn’t like soccer much. I don’t like any sport much. I quit soccer after a season or two but I still had to come to my brother’s matches. I was usually buried in a book for the duration, resenting the moments I’d have to snap back to reality to answer some adult’s question. Sometimes I’d go climb trees - there were some great climbing trees at Exeter park. There was this one with a really long, thick branch that you could use to get up one of the tall pine trees that didn’t have any low handholds of its own. Once or twice I read a book up there, although that wasn’t terribly comfortable in all honesty. It was novel, though. Get it? Anyway, the second I was old enough to stay home on a Saturday morning, I stopped coming to those matches.
Those trees are all gone now. They must’ve been too dangerous to keep around. I remember coming across the pile of woodchips that had replaced the small, dense forest at the western fringe of the oval, and being quite devastated.
I loved climbing trees. There were these two at Angus Harden’s place, where I and my brother Alister used to go after school on days when mum was working in Sydney, which you could go between and get pretty high up. I also used to make Angus and Alister play in my spur-of-the-moment made-up universes and make vehicles and houses out of Lego for us to use, which I would then attempt to record for posterity with sketches and descriptions until I got bored. When the arrangement with the Hardens ended, we went to Marty Cooper’s place after school instead. Now there was where I first touched a GameCube. Maybe I should blame Marty for my life after that.
Marty’s a funny guy, made us laugh a lot. He had this lovely old dog called Wag, whose tail used to thump against almost everything. The opening chords of Jesus of Suburbia immediately conjure that time, because both Marty and Alister were in love with the album. They sang along to it over and over, but I didn’t get it - my musical taste hadn’t yet materialised. It's just music, I’d think. I usually played along anyway.
The album in question, American Idiot, had entered notoriety at our school for the inclusion of a few choice swear words, truly scandalous for someone of my prepubescent sensibilities. So there was a taste of rebellion to these activities, catching me somewhere in between goody two-shoes disapproval and secret relish. I assumed that my brother, always a bit more outside the square than myself, only enjoyed the music for this sense of preadolescent defiance. Now I think his musical taste simply matured more quickly than my own. It’s one of my favourite albums now. Then there was Marty's big sister, whom I had an undeniable crush on. She was in high school, a couple of years older than me, and seemed the paragon of maturity. Something else I remember is the bush-forts we used to make in Marty's front yard, tunneling through the bushes bordering his property and carving out a small, comfortable place to sit under the leaves and branches. We fancied it our clubhouse. The plants were surprisingly accommodating.
Nostalgia’s a funny thing. I can’t think back on those times without a pang in my chest or a tear or two slipping through (see? Told you). Sometimes I even wish I could go back there, to simpler times. At least to visit. But those are the rose glasses, right? I don’t know if I was happier then or not. Sometimes I feel sad now, but I felt sad sometimes then too. I get more stressed now, for sure, but that’s the tradeoff for adult freedom, for being able to do more. I know more now, but that’s a mixed blessing.
Whatever. It’s no good to wish for time to flow backwards. But maybe every now and then it’s ok to remember.