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There’s something about a bowl of fruit

So today has dawned and it’s quite warm in the sun. I’ve travelled to the ends of the Earth – well EastLakes in Sydney – to house sit and puppy sit for friends for the week, while they go and build huts for nuns on Hamilton Island. For a week I get to pretend I’m a responsible grown up, with a home of my own and a pet dog. Saturday I return to reality, but until then I’m going to play house.

I also have a fish tank full of fish that are all quiet beautiful. Blue and orange, grey and yellow. There’s even two scurrying along the bottom of the tank sucking sand that look like miniature sharks. There’s a builder in the front room repairing a ceiling and a guy outside putting render on the brick wall. All in all, this fantasy of being a grown up shows I’m very responsible and fulfilling a dream of renovating a house. Go team me quite frankly.

But what really makes me feel like I’m in an adult house is a bowl of fruit sitting on the dining table. I remember being a kid. Every Aunt, family friend, cousin had a bowl of fruit placed with care somewhere in their kitchens. It was like a sign of maturity or something. When I had my own place I never had a bowl of fruit anywhere, but like my Paternal Grandmother I had a drawer of lollies and sweets. I’m writing this post and I’m looking at a bowl filled with apples, banana’s, mandarins and I hope that other thing is an avocado, if it’s not it could well be an alien egg.

There are daisy’s on the table and the background noise is the dryer. It’s strange and slightly surreal. I know this isn’t my house. I know this isn’t my life, but for a week I get to pretend.

Given how moody and disjointed I’ve been since I lost my job recently, I’ll admit to a bout of nerves about being here. Not the “being in a house on my own” kind of nerves, but the “I’m so far away from anyone I know and I’m all alone and what if my brain turns to mush and I end up drinking the fish tank water” kind of nerves.

For eight years I’ve been haunted by the “Woy Woy Experience”. I had a townhouse. Two story, three bedroom, lock up garage, courtyard garden. Nothing grand, but it was mine and I adored it. I got sick. I lost my job. I haemorrhaged money and I ended up moving back to my parents place. There were other things going on, not the least of which was an almost fatal bout of depression and anxiety that left me unable to leave the house except in the dead of night to go to Coles to buy $1 loaves of bread.

I was so broke all I could afford were those loafs of $1 bread. If I went in around midnight they were 25 cents as the previous days stock was being cleared. I used to buy 4 and freeze them. Back in those days I spent $8 on a cask of wine, and $1 on bread and that was my weekly entertainment and food budget all rolled into one.

I sort of broke myself back then. Funnily enough the house I’m staying in this week belongs to the friend who drove up uninvited, not even telling me she was coming until she was parked outside my house. It wasn’t a good time. It was the most spectacular rock bottom of my life to date. It was sort of crap really.

Since then I’ve realised today; I’ve not been on one my own for more than a night and that was when I was travelling with work. Fly in late, run event, fly out late, crawl in front door at nearly 1 am and be up and back to work again by 8:30 the next day.

I’ve lived at my parents ever since. And I’ve not been alone. It’s a strange thing to realise and even stranger thing for me to actually be concerned about at my age. As I said, not the being on my own in the house bit, but the other bit.

I made a decision on the train this morning. I’m going to play a game this week. I’m going to play “you’re a fully functional human being and on top of that you’re a super successful writer who doesn’t need a job and whose novels and ebooks sell loads of copies, and you’re writing your next one, not your first one, that was ages ago, your next one with a readily built in audience eager to read the next adventure.”

This week that is all I’m going to put out into the universe. No doubts, no fears, no dramas. Just me, in a house, writing a novel and doing what my “play” me does on a daily basis. That is the me that entered the house today. It’s the me that will leave it at the end of the week. It’s the me that I hope will one day not be a play me and will instead be the real me.

I guess the point of this post is that it’s okay to feel fear. What occurred all those years ago is real. It’s also gone. The scars it left are faded, but their still on my heart. But the past will not dictate your future unless you allow it too. If you make the past your future it’s your own call. For me, this week is part cathartic, and part return to the “place” it all began.

I a beginning to believe in life being a cycle. This has happened before, the same things really. The no money, the no job, the being dependant on the kindness of others. By facing it full on this time, I’m hopeful it will be resolved and that in the future the “play” me of this week will be the only reality I know.

In that spirit, I’ve set aside time each day to work on both my current novel projects. A couple of hours a day, on each project. That’s all it’s going to take to eventually get those drafts of my “latest” books done. As the say in The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Time is fleeting. However, fleeting or not, we all have approximately the same time as everyone else. It’s totally up to me how I elect to spend this week. I elect to spend it getting comfortable in my future skin.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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