So really my memories begin when I was six… my parents owned a shop in Sorrento in the main street. It was in the first floor of an old building that was huge and there was also an op shop, a fish and chip shop and a small supermarket. At the back of the shop there was an old staircase leading to the upper levels and we were not supposed to go up there but say that to a child and any chance they will get they will. We used to tell each other it was haunted and Mum and Dad would warn us that it was very old upstairs and we could fall through the floor. None of us did.
When I was really little one side of the shop was fruit and vegetables and the other side was like a milkbar. I remember there being cases of old soft drink bottles and interesting things out the back. I loved exploring it all. I remember the back room had a dirt floor and Dad would give me little jobs like putting potatoes into bags and weighing them or I would help him collect fruit and vegetables for the orders to be home delivered. I was 6 when I started helping.
Sometime after I don’t remember how long Mum and Dad got rid of the Milk-bar side and it was just Fruit and Veges.
The fish and chip shop next door were owned by a family of Italians. I remember I was so shy and would play with their youngest Simon. Sometimes his dad would give us battered flake to eat. I loved battered flake, it is still my favorite today. There was an alleyway between the op shop and our shop and it opened up into a large private courtyard and that is where I used to play with Simon. I don’t remember playing with him very much but I think he liked playing cars and I didn’t talk much.
I prefered to be silent.
The old ladies in the op shop loved it when I would go in and visit. I never spoke to them but I would browse through the books and old things fascinated me. I would buy some decrepit old book for 10c and take it home. I think that is where my love for op shops came from and second hand goods, markets, stalls. Anything like that I love.
So during the week it was school where I was desperately lonely and Saturdays at the shop and Sundays was staying home. Where I would either read all day or go out bush walking and I would spend hours either riding my bike with my brother or on my own.
I guess as a child I looked extremely shy and timid to other people. I never spoke if I didn’t have to. I prefered silence to talking. Even with my own family I struggled to express my thoughts and feelings. I had no idea really. Growing up my favorite words were “I don’t know”.
I had thoughts to express but getting the words out of my mouth was the problem. I hated parties and family gatherings and I would hide in my room and read a book instead. Books were my friends and I could escape my world and be anyone I wanted. I was a daydreamer from day one. I can’t remember a time in my childhood where I didn’t disappear into some other world or imaginary fantasy. I was obsessed with animals, every single pet we had was my best friend and I was always devastated when they passed on.
I was obsessed with collecting things. I still am. I love collection. I used to collect stamps and I was obsessed with books. I read every fiction book I could get my hands on. I went through stages of reading different types of fiction. Western until I got tired of it. War stories, fantasy, science fiction and romance. I think I spent a whole year just reading Mills @ Boon. I bought books every weekend in the op shops and I ended up with 6 large boxes of them. I remember Dad complaining because he had to end up taking them to the tip when I didn’t want them anymore. And Mum kept saying it was because of me we had silverfish. True.
Going back to animals I was obsessed with horses. Our neighbours down the road had horses and ponies and we used to go visit them and ride their horses. I just adored them and I used to pretend for hours in my mind that I was a horse. I had a horse for a couple of years from when I was 15 and he was my best friend. Didn’t matter that he was old and had arthritis and was a nag. I loved him to bits.
I had difficulties with school. I only have a vague memory of preschool and just remembering that at the end of preschool I had no memory of learning the alphabet. Mum said that I had to repeat year 2 as I didn’t know how to read. I do remember the teacher telling me that I had to stay down a year and I was devastated as I thought that made me bad. I had a learning disability I know that now but back in those days they probably just thought I was slow. I have no idea and I don’t have any report cards to look over. I still have problems now. I could never learn the times table and I had problems with getting work done, and mathematics were a mystery to me.
As I got into grade 5 and 6 I had a love of writing. I loved writing cursively and would look enviously at calligraphy books promising myself one day that I would learn it. I still haven’t but I would love to. I have always had trouble remembering things as a child and all through my life.
There were so many different things that did not add up in my head that I used to think I was crazy. I seriously thought I was when I was 12.