Home without Raven
It’s the small rituals, shared stories and memories that are the foundation of a home.
It’s been almost five years since my family and I packed up and left my hometown of Perth. It’s where I was born and spent almost my entire life. And it’s also the birthplace of all three of my children.
Our first move was only across Australia but at times I felt like we’d relocated to a different country. I’m not sure when I stopped calling Perth home but somewhere between the second and third year in Melbourne it happened, perhaps because I knew in my heart we were unlikely to ever return.
My two younger children have almost no memory of my hometown just fragments, images, sounds and stories of people they don’t really know.
In the middle of last year we relocated again, this time to Switzerland and as luck would have it we’re on the move again next week, just to a new house but it’s provoked a great welling up of emotions.
My complex, middle boy is frightened about the move, horrified that our lives will be packed up into boxes again and trucked away to a new property. And he’s anxious about what it will mean for our Raven.
Let me explain.
The apartment we have called home for the last 10 months spills out onto a large grassy garden edged by a green hedge that teams with chattering sparrows in spring and summer. In the course of the day ravens also visit our garden, swooping down to pick over the grass for any morsels the busy sparrows have missed.
One of these birds stands out, it has an injured foot and can only hop across the grass to forage for food. We’re not sure if it’s a girl or a boy but my son is confident it’s a man-bird and he’s worried about who will feed our Raven if we’re not here.
We always try to leave little scraps out in the afternoon, especially on the weekend and then we wait to see if he’ll come. When he does fly down, his ink-black feathers shining in the sun he always executes a perfect landing but then he has to hop and hobble across the grass to find the tasty treats.
We’ve talked a bit about how he might have hurt his foot. It could have been an accident or maybe he was just born with a funny foot. My son wanted to take him to the vet to get it fixed but I pointed out that he seemed ok and it certainly made him stand out from all the other ravens.
I’ve tried to reassure Toby that Raven will be alright once we’ve moved.
“He might even visit us at our new house, we’ll have to keep watch,” I said.
“It won’t be a home without Raven,” said Toby.
And I know what he means.
It’s these small rituals, these shared stories and memories that are the foundation of a home.
My sentimental self says home is wherever my children and husband are and that’s true but for a house to feel like a home we need to share more than just a space. It’s the stories we are all part of, like our friendship with Raven that make a place familiar and safe.
When I was ten years old I suffered from terrible homesickness and I was unable to even stay the night with a friend. I eventually cured myself and the solution came to me while I was sitting on my garden swing gazing up at the pale moon in the afternoon sky. I realised that wherever I went I would look up each night at the same moon, it would be a constant, a sentinel to ward off my worries.
I truly understand my son’s anxiety over our move and I wish I could take Raven with us. More than all our furniture, the clutter of toys and bikes and clothes he would make our new address feel like home.
We’ll watch for him after school and on the weekends and we’ll be sure to let you know if he ever pays us a visit.
By Catie Low