A change of direction

(by Rebecca)

Satch and I were at a talk the other day. It was in a room, in a hotel in the middle of the town where I grew up. We sat at the back of the packed room, perched on a table in front of a window, listening to the speakers. The words swirled through the room; workplace, personal, insecurity, fraudulence, uncertainty, collegiality… I listened and absorbed.

The window behind me offered a tantalising distraction (they always do) and as I turned to stretch my neck, I caught sight of the buildings behind me. As I sat in this room, in this hotel, listening to someone else’s words, I could see the site of my great-grandmother’s house, where my great uncle still lives. I could see the pre-school I attended as a child, and the primary school I graduated to after that. I could see the top of the tennis courts I used to walk to after school, the church I was so intrigued by and then rejected as I grew older. I could see the one town block of buildings and memories of my life from the ages of 2-12, spread out before me in a way I hadn’t thought about before. I was consumed by a collage of memories that built upon and played around each other, connecting and linking the way these spaces all connected and linked in my past…

A change in tone in the speaker’s voice, roused me from my nostalgia and refocused my ears and eyes. But as I turned back to the front, the palm fronds across the window caught my attention; they were banging softly against the glass. My mind registered the wind and noted happily that it was not longer dead northerly. The north winds had been blowing for days, tearing at the waves and bringing in bluebottles. But this meant it was switching and turning around. Potential revealed itself and my heart warmed. I leaned to Satch and whispered to him,

The wind’s changed.

Satch turned and looked at the tree behind us, then back to me, raising his eyebrow and smiling slightly.

We went back to listening from the back of the room, but something had shifted and my mind was already thinking through the day, looking for gaps and spaces to disappear, looking for ways to negotiate the change of direction.