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by Xanath Newbold
The first night we spent in our new house, my husband Trevor and I couldn’t sleep. We hadn’t expected that problem because we really liked the modern style of the build, and all of our furniture and appliances were brand new. Perhaps that was the problem. The house seemed more like a hotel than a home and it didn’t feel like it was ours. Gradually, that’s starting to change…
Over the years Trevor and I had sometimes talked about building a new house, or perhaps selling up and retiring in town. These decisions were forced upon us when we lost our home of 23 years in the 2013 bushfires. It’s true that the rebuild gave us a focus; instead of thinking about what we’d lost, we began to look forward. But none of it seemed real until the day that the painters were finished and we put the covers on all the power points. It was such a little thing, but that’s when it all began to sink in. And when it did, the house felt alien to us.
A month or so later our family visited for Christmas: we’re talking all the children, our grandkids, and my parents and sister from the mainland. During the visit my grandson Max, who is two, ran a car along one of the walls. It left a mark – and I love it! To me, it’s as if Max christened the house – in fact the whole family did because when they left, our house felt more like a home. The difference was that we’d started creating new memories. A home is not about the furniture you buy, but the people within its walls.
It’s been a long road to this point with many, many bumps along the way. And while we do have a house, our yard is still a mess with no garden or grass or driveway or clothesline. We’ll get there, in time. But what we have gained from this experience is a clear vision of what we want for the next chapter of our lives. We no longer talk of retiring in town; there’s no way we’re going anywhere. We may have taken things for granted before the bushfires, but Trevor and I have come to truly appreciate the value of everything we have in the Dunalley community and within the walls of our home.