Over the Fence

 White picket fence at King Edward Park, Newcastle (back in the day)

White picket fence at King Edward Park, Newcastle (back in the day)

She was coming home and the tattered picture stuck to the inside of her daypack was the only reality of 'home' she possessed. Her memories were now more like third party recollections. The concept of home wasn't even tangible now. Both parents had died and her siblings had escaped the home town as she had (just a long time before them).

The best of her friends knew she would leave even before her. But they had never given up on her - just given her time. Its the precious gift that only true friends possess. The kind of gift that provides the giver moments of quiet pride and satisfaction.

In her secret, dark moments, when she most missed the place she had wandered from, the fear of going back was stronger than any pull drawing her there. Now though, as the plane banked over the inner west of Sydney her face was up close to the window beside her. Fingers unconsciously tracing across the cold pexiglass outlining the landmarks below. Drawing once familiar places back into her consciousness. 

It was moments past dawn, to the east patchy clouds scrambled across the horizon. The sun was bursting through right now - below the tilting right wing as the plane slowly turned through north then north east. It would land from the east and as it completed the turn she saw the harbour reflecting the low glaring light. To the west of the bridge a long shadow defined it - an arch of endeavour, connection and strength. She couldn't believe how sentimental she felt about coming home. It was unexpected. So not her. But there she was - home. Nearly.

She opened the flap of the pack that held her tattered picture. She had made it many years ago with her first camera (a then treasured Pentax). It had lots of bright Australian blue sky and in the bottom right hand corner of the frame was a white picket fence caught by winter’s afternoon sun.

Though the picture didn't show it, the fence guarded against the lure of a cliff and the long fall to rocks licked by the Pacific Ocean.

She remembered ‘seeing’ that picture before she raised the camera to her eye. It was when she knew she could translate things she felt to a reality she could show to others. Even if they didn't always get it.

She chose to show a lot more sky and just a little fence. Other cameras might look over the cliff’s edge to see the drama and danger of the rocks and waves below. She preferred to look out at that blue, blue sky and, with the press of the shutter, made the photograph that helped her decide to leave and find other skies.

Nostalgia was shuddered away by the wheels almost soft bounce on the tarmac. How planes left air and kissed ground was one of those things she had long accepted she could never explain. She understood why planes crashed - just not how they landed.

It was very weird how she felt right now as the plane slowed to taxi speed. So excited to be 'home'. The dread she had felt when she boarded this flight was gone. She was ready to climb back over from the sky side of that white picket fence.

Felt good.