We were up to our necks in love. Well that's what it felt like to me as I danced across the kitchen and down the hallway while about a dozen people sang their hearts out in my lounge room.
The idea was simple. I wanted to drink some and sing a little. Gemma had the bright idea of throwing a singing party at The Peach, so I did.
The night was dark and stormy (I have always wanted to write that and mean it). Some guests arrived drenched and shivering, clutching a guitar under one arm and a six pack under the other. Some swanned in shaking out umbrellas holding bottles of wine and one or two appeared in the kitchen as though teleportation was possible.
The singing began slowly but the chorus swelled until we were delirious and not one person was silent in the house. We had three people with guitars, Spencer, P. Street and Jeremy Smith, Robert on the floor with a tambourine and a snare and enthusiastic singing from no less than one dozen people at any one time. We wandered recklessly through musical history and modes of good taste, anyone got a go, anyone from Samantha Fox, David Bowie and Robyn Hitchcock to The Pixies and even Counting Crows. No one was more surprised than me to realise that all of us, without exception, knew all the words to Mr Jones.
The weather, jetlag and tour dates kept us to a small and merry band. From time to time one of us would look up and around the room and get a little misty because while we were singing just for the hell of it we were also saying goodbye. At midnight I gave a toast to The Peach and all who have sailed in her because Grizelda and I are moving out, for good.
Mr Oddweird the landlord has gone and done it this time. He has defaulted on his mortgage and The Peach is being repossessed by the bank. I have lived in fear of the day we would be forced, by one disaster or another, to leave this house but when the day arrived I surprised myself. I don't really mind.
When I first came to The Peach I'd been most thoroughly shredded by the tragic end of a long and dramatic relationship. I wasn't sure it was possible to feel worse than I did, perhaps not even possible to feel like I did and stay alive for a whole day at a time but I did. It hasn't always been easy here in The Peach but I have loved it, every difficult, horrible, euphoric moment of it since I first walked through the door carrying nothing but a game of boggle and a plastic bottle full of water.
Its been almost seven years since I signed the lease and handed over all of my savings for bond and two weeks rent in advance. The cat and I were both astonished by the light and noise of what we call the city when we first moved in. The cat spent the first fortnight in my wardrobe refusing to come out for anything but to use the litter tray or take a small drink of water. Now the cat roams the house freely and I can sleep through just about anything.
Mr Oddweird has let me down as a landlord over the years. The water has been turned off three times because he didn't pay the bill, he took off with the inside front door handle four years ago and never brought it back. The back door has never had a lock on it and he failed entirely to make any repairs to the bathroom after the mirrored cabinet crashed to the ground and smashed about six years ago. Last year he began renovating the flat underneath The Peach (which has been vacant the entire time I have lived here) by removing the floors, walls, kitchen and bathroom and digging large holes in the now dirt floor. But this time I suspect he has mostly failed himself.
It seems strange to me that I am almost looking forward to the move. I'm ready for a new adventure. Grizelda and I are headed just three suburbs away but around here that's like a whole new country. We'll be setting up shop in a beautiful little house with polished floorboards, a dishwasher in the kitchen and a neat little courtyard out the back where I can plant strawberries and herbs. Sylvia the cat and Grizelda's new pain in the arse kitten Oscar will be making the move with us as will Edith the gold fish and most of our stuff.
I've been giving away belongings, throwing things out, selling furniture I've carried with me from relationship to relationship. Junking all the built-up useless things and jettisoning the ballast. When I pack my bags and make my way to the new house I'll probably be carrying a few little heartaches and a head full of memories but I'm going to put my teapot in the cupboard anyway and see what happens next.