It’s been two months since I posted here. First there was Christmas, then the fog of days that run over each other between Christmas and New Year, and then I was back to work on January 2. I have a new job, and whilst I don’t talk about my professional life in any detail here, I can say that it is crazily busy, incredibly challenging, and entirely life-affirming. I had forgotten how good I can be under pressure: thinking fast, scanning, deciding, knowing my stuff. I had also forgotten how it feels to feel unsure of myself, to have the flicker of ‘but I’m just the daughter of blue-collar workers who didn’t graduate high school and who didn’t know inside toilets existed until I visited a neighbour’s house when I was 7’ run through my mind when I am given sole responsibility for an incredibly important project. That fleeting flicker of doubt isn’t a wholly bad thing, as it makes me stop and recognise that I am who I am, because of where I came from, not in spite of it.
I am that girl from a poor family, with parents working casual jobs and a father with a gambling problem, living in a run-down rented house with an outside toilet and no power points in my bedroom which was actually a converted verandah.
I am that bright kid at the state school whose Mum spent money she didn’t have buying me project kits at the newsagent so I could do my lecturette about the Egyptians and get an A+.
I am the high schooler who got her poetry published in an actual book but whose Mum and Dad couldn’t come to the launch because they were casual workers who had to work.
I am that regional university student who had the marks to get into the fanciest of fancy sandstone city universities, but who didn’t even contemplate applying because a free pre-HECS higher education gotten whilst living at home was what I had coming to me.
I am that graduate, then postgraduate with a talent for teaching others who became an academic at that same regional university. I am that young woman earning more money than my parents could ever have imagined, working in a place they could not understand, talking and writing about things that are irrelevant when you have spent your life living on the bones of your arse.
I am that woman who worked her way up through administration and management, and who is nearing 50 and sitting in a big office with an original painting on the wall done by Charles Blackman, whose Alice in Wonderland series was the subject of one of my undergraduate university essays, written on a second-hand typewriter with an overhead light powered by an extension lead from another room.
I am also wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, foe and she of the single remaining breast.
I am all that. Right here, where I am.