Today, I got up and I had a shit morning. It was just rotten. So I went to the supermarket and bought some Smarties and decided I would go to bed when I got home and I would not come out until tomorrow.
I was getting into my bed leggings (as distinct from house leggings and, I’m sorry to say, outside leggings) when I saw a person on my verandah in a hi-vis shirt. The unfortunate thing about people on verandahs in hi-vis shirts is that often they leave notes instead of parcels, so I ran out there with my bed leggings half-off and signed to take possession of a box.
A big, heavy box.
I hadn’t been expecting it, on my shit morning. I had been expecting to watch the latest episode of Million Dollar Listings and eat so many Smarties I had to vomit into a clearing I’d made in the mess on my floor. I had not been expecting a heavy box with Express Post stickers and no return address.
The contents were immediately clear, of course. It was just the right shape. I could feel them in there. The way they vibrated, the way they shouted: “Anna! It’s us, your childhood dream!”
I opened it with a knife, which seemed the right approach to a childhood dream. To attack the childhood dream. Thirty years of waiting deserved the kind of pomp that only comes with a knife or maybe a large sword. I sliced open that box and my childhood dream was screaming at me and there they were, in their neat rows, like teeth.
I was sort of breathless for a second, waiting to see what I would feel. I had imagined being overcome by emotion and feeling utterly fulfilled in every way a person can, but I must reiterate that my morning had been so shit and I had already been crying into my bag of Smarties so I wasn’t sure if I could muster up any additional emotions.
I slipped one out. A book. And then an emotion.
This is my book. Not another person’s book. Not my future self’s book. This isn’t a book I might have written if I’d found the time, or a book I might always “have in me”, or a book someone else wrote while I was fucking around on the internet. This is my actual book. I wrote it and wrote it and wrote it some more, and then today, on my terrifically shit morning, it was in a box instead of in my head.
I sniffed it, obviously. It smells like a book, like print and paper and glue. I called my dad and he came all the way to my house to witness its actual, literal bookness. And to read the dedication, which I’d managed to keep a secret from him this whole time, even though I can never keep any other kind of secret for even the ten seconds it takes you to tell it to me.
I put my book in my shelf, to see how it looks with other books. Then I put four of them together so I could see how it looks with its own books. Then I put one in my bed, to see how it looks when someone takes it to bed. Then I put it back in the box, to remember what it was like thirty minutes ago when I had never seen it before.
And I thought about what my younger self would say. My six-year-old self. And I guess I realised, for the first time, that I am my six-year-old self and that this is not “my childhood dream” but just my dream. I didn’t do it “for both of us”, but just for me.
Now I’m in bed, eating Smarties and watching Million Dollar Listing. But my book is here too.
I’m giving away a signed copy of this book to one lucky(?) Australian or New Zealand resident. All you have to do is pop over to Facebook and tell me a story about a house. I really like stories, and my book is about a house. My team and I will choose the one we love best, scribble a signature in a book, and send it out.