My house is situated on an Avenue. Not a road, nor a street, or even a crescent. I can recall at least fifteen different addresses during my life. A motley collection of street suffixes entered onto library cards, job applications, marriage and birth certificates, tax returns and passports. I think I’ve used them all!
According to the Smithsonian, an Avenue was originally grander than a Street, wider and often lined with trees. In 1937, the house I currently live in, my house on the avenue, was the first of its neighbours to be built. The verges are wide; a gift from politicians who reneged long ago on a promise to build a tram line down our section at the bottom of the hill. The mature trees drop hard little nuts, ensuring you never walk barefoot without one eye to the ground. A rope and dowel ladder hangs from one, while the other shades a set of metal monkey bars that have been in the street for thirty years. Purchased by a group of parents who have now become grandparents, they are a shared hand-me-down, a semi-permanent fixture for any neighbour’s taking. In a year or so they will move from the front of my home, a sign that my children are growing up. No more impromptu playdates, scattered bikes or scooters to see from my font window.
Inside my home, the formal dining room has become a craft room and office. There are aluminium pots crowded into the deep window sill, overflowing with textas and crayons and paintbrushes. Traces of glitter and glue are caught in the cracks of the wide, jarrah floorboards. A collage of writing quotes hangs on the stippled plaster wall, and below it an old dining table supports a computer and the detritus of my writing life. My husband’s grandparents used to sit around this dining table, in a house a few suburbs and a lifetime away.
Within this cocoon, most of my words flow. Some of them light, others dark, but all of them swept together into a neat little pile in the room just off the kitchen.
The literary concept of light and dark appeals enormously to me. In this post I’ve sketched the light. The dark has sometimes been too much to bear, blindsiding me and suppressing the urge to pull up my chair and write. Thankfully those days are infrequent now. Instead, the darkness has become useful, colouring characters and scenes, providing a depth to my writing as it tempers the light.
Next time in ‘Words From The Avenue‘, I’ll share a little about the manuscript I’ve been working on. I’m pushing through a major structural edit that hopefully will give it the polish it needs.
Come and hang out on the avenue with me. It’s time to play!