Possum Tales

Change, for me, is always slow. Before it arrives, I’m already there in my mind, just waiting for the physical components to slide into place.

When I came to this happy little hovel by the sea, it was like stepping into a well worn slipper.

Common Ringtail Possum

Common Ringtail Possum by David Cook

The oasis, marking with finality an end to years of complicated share house living, long past due.

I didn’t care about the shabby paint job, or the brown brick walls, or the fact that my neighbours could stare straight through my kitchen, into my living room, and out the other side.

It was my home. Where I could be myself, with the only other person on the planet who’s ever seen what that really means. And asked to stay.

Six years on, why am I so restless?

I’d like to blame it on the screaming single mum, and the fact her kids have finally found their voices, too.

Or the retiree who, bless his knee-high cotton socks, still manages to get excessive joy from pruning the wildlife out of the trees.

Or the fact my house is now bursting with skerricks of unfinished things – ointments and clothes and discarded trains of thought.

“This place is too small!” It screams, everywhere I look.

But that’s just an excuse.

Recently, during a rare afternoon spent cleaning up my garden, I heard rustling.

High up above, from within a thorny hideaway, I glimpsed a gleaming bit of tail.

Possum Tail

My little Ringtail Possum has moved house!

That evening, I placed a pear on the fence by Lady Possum Tail’s home. A goodwill offering to the gods.

She took a bite, and hurled it at the ground, I discovered the next day. Shame on me, for insulting her sense of self determination!

A few nights later, when I was washing up the dishes, I spotted her sitting on the fence. A little garden sentry, looking at me, looking at her.

And I realised, it’s not the neighbours, or the house. It’s me.

This home was only ever a holding pattern. A place to go underground a while, to find strength to face the world again, on my own terms.

In her ever gentle way, Lady Possum Tail came to tell me. It is time.

What’s the longest you have stayed in one spot?


  1. says

    Hi Alarna 😀 Long time no visit !! I love this post !! Love it !! I do like the way that you are reading what you think the possum is trying to tell you which really is in your heart all along. Big hug. Ralph xox ❤

  2. lynnkelleyauthor says

    You have the most wonderful voice, no matter what you write. I love this post. How far away from there do you think you’ll move? Looking forward to following your journey to the new place!

  3. says

    You write in such a lovely way, what do you think the next stop for you will be? Since being an adult and able to live where ever I like, I have probably not lived in one place for more than 18 months if that, but most of it has been on the east coast of NSW.

    • says

      Thank you! East Coast NSW is beautiful, as is the climate. Roving up and down there sounds perfect. I’d like to spend some time in Sydney one day, though I suspect Melbourne – somewhere – will probably always be the place I come back to. Right now I feel torn between country and city 🙂

  4. says

    This post made me happy. Again and again I come to realize change doesn’t take place externally, but internally. I hope you find your next dream home.

  5. says

    Since becoming an adult who makes her own choices about house and home, the longest I’ve stayed in one place is about 5 years. I always used to imagine myself finding a stable, idyllic home for living out my golden years, but now I feel more inclined to embrace my nomadic streak and just go.

    • says

      Oh yes…I can absolutely see you there, the writer nomad. The perfect setting, I should think, for that dark imagination of yours. Some people work backwards through their youth, you know? I plan to be one of those, too 🙂

  6. says

    I love this story and might have to move to a place with possums now. I’m sure you’ll find beauty wherever you go. I’ll look forward to hearing about your new adventures!

      • says

        24 and 20 years now, so we’ve been around together for a while 🙂 Yes, the other half now works for an organisation doing resourcing, planning, and coordinating, for people with different, and highly variable need, and requirements.

      • says

        24 and 20 years now, so we’ve been around together for a while 🙂 Yes, the other half now works for an organisation doing resourcing, planning, and coordinating, for people with different, and highly variable need, and requirements.

  7. says

    It is funny because I think I am heading where you are leaving. I am feeling as though I need a place to hide away from the world, to be concerned with the doings of nature, paint, and pen. And remove myself from people.

    So it’s possible that the answer is that I need a small place by a sea, whether the paint is peeling or not.

    • says

      Yes, there is something healing about being in a place on the fringe, with the horizon to stare into, swans and pelicans and possums for company. Or whatever the equivalent would be in your part of the world. In some ways, the wider context is more important than the dwelling. At least for me. I hope you find your hideaway 🙂

  8. says

    I have lived in the same place basically all my life, ever since I was born. I moved to my university’s campus 3 years back, and this is the only move that I have made so far. I need a solid place that I can call HOME, so I can go back to it whenever I need to.
    I was fascinated when I read this post of yours, fascinated by your need for change. I envy your spirit of adventure. For me, it is homeostasis all the way! 😉

    • says

      Sumithra, how you make me smile 🙂 Homeostasis. What a word. Truth is, my natural inclination is towards homeostasis. But our rental markets here are such that it is quite uncommon for people to stay in one place, especially once they leave their parental home. The irony being that, I think if I had as permanent a home as you have described, I’d probably have seen more of the world by now! So, I say, you have more spirit of adventure than you give yourself credit for 😉

      • says

        Ha ha! Thank you, Alarna!! 😀
        And I had no idea about the rental markets forcing people to move around. How cumbersome!
        But it sure will help you keep your life and things uncluttered! 😉

  9. says

    I love that you have a possum guide. I found a possum in my back yard, cornered by my dog, who had no clue what it was. Apparently, my dog had surprised it before it could play dead. Rather, it was hissing menacingly! When I shooed my dog away and got him in the house, possum was long gone.

    Looking forward to seeing where you go next.

    • says

      Possum’s might look cute, but they can be surprisingly vicious! Or, at least, that’s what they will have us believe. I shall have to look up and find out what the similarities are between your possums and ours. I’m glad you were able to rescue poor possum…probably scared out of his or her wits!

  10. says

    I can’t hear the word possum without thinking Dame Edna, and that’s a pretty startling mental image in a tree! Can completely identify though, when I first moved to Stockholm I was homeless for 7 months and when I finally moved into my flat the feeling of locking the door behind me was glorious. I have therefore resolved to stay in this teensy studio the rest of my life, and therefore can only have as many children as I can fit in kitchen cabinets.

    • says

      Dame Edna, nooo – that is a disturbing image! I can imagine, after being homeless in Stockholm (freezing much?), a cupboard would have been welcome! But then, it is the Ikea capital (or something like that), so there is potentially endless possibilities for what you might fit in the kitchen cabinet 😉 (Now I want to see a place worth suffering for like that!)

  11. says

    The longest I have stayed in one spot (not including my parents house here where I stayed 14 years) is here, in this house in Oz! I can’t believe that it will be five years in September that I arrived down under! Before that, I had my unit in Canada where I stayed 4 years and which I still miss a lot. I can’t wait to see what your next move will be… Also, this phrase: “Before changes arrives, I’m already there in my mind, just waiting for the physical components to slide into place.” Wow! You have described exactly the way I am. I never was able to put it into words but this is exactly it.

    • says

      It’s amazing how the years fly by, isn’t it? I’m not sure change has always been that way for me – there were plenty of times in the past it felt like change was thrust onto me, and I had no clue what I was doing. Perhaps the awareness comes with age? Either way, it feels a little bit like magic when it happens 🙂

  12. says

    Alarna I love how the possum came to remind you its time, I have been a roving all over this globe I guess the longest I stayed in one place would be when I lived in Sydney as a young thing. I get restless and love the challenge of a new place and new people but now I have children, I know it is beneficial to them to stay put. Beautiful posts makes me one to move again.

    • says

      I like how you refer to it as a challenge, because the tendency is to focus on the excitement of new contexts and possibilities. But there is a lot more to a move than that! I’m only now coming to realise that this roving thing, and the need for change and adventure, is possibly in the Australian blood 🙂

  13. says

    Great post, Alarna! I feel like I learn a lot from nature. 🙂 The house we live in now, we’ve been in for almost 2 decades, but before that I moved about 16 times (my dad was in the military). I think at heart I’ve got wanderlust.

    • says

      When you say ‘two decades’ it sounds like a really long time! Which, come to think of it, is a pretty big contrast to what came before. I just did a count and I think the number of houses I’ve lived in so far comes to about 18. No one could blame us for a bit of wanderlust…(much nicer term than itchy feet) 😉

  14. says

    When I was “home” (Australia) recently there was a possum in the tree of the house we stayed in – I loved coming in at night and seeing it peering down from its tree branch welcoming me in for the evening. The longest I’ve lived in one place was the first 18 years of my life on the family farm. Since then it’s been many places/houses – interestingly no longer than 7 years in each place. Later this year will be the 7 year mark in the current house….. perhaps the 7 year “rule” is about to be broken; I feel comfortable here.

    • says

      Funny how things go in cycles. I usually move in September – not sure why it works that way, but it has been like that for a long time. 7 years is nice – 7 year itch? 😉 But all we are really looking for is that ‘comfortable’ place. Glad to hear you’ve found it 🙂

  15. liz says

    I most definitely get that restless feeling quite frequently. I try to stave it off by traveling, but when that is not possible, it feels like I might crawl up the walls. 😉 Then, I remember, it’s just an attitude adjustment that I really need – and a reminder to live in gratitude. xo

    • says

      Oh, I know that wall crawl feeling. You’re right, it does usually require an attitude adjustment – I’ve had to have a few of those living here. But it’s not about the house, anymore. It’s about me needing to take the next step. It’s not good when your home starts to spell ‘stuck’…

  16. says

    Truly a poetic post, Alarna. Inion and I love stopping by your blog. Your writing is ethereal, delicate and always puts a smile on our face. We’ve moved around a lot in our lifetime, but we’ve been at the same place now for over ten years, which is the longest we’ve stayed anywhere. Inion and I are terribly nervous nellies. Though she tends to be a homebody, she’s never sitting for too long before she’s up doing something new, especially since she’s lost all of her weight. Thanks to my disability, it’s left me with a bit of a hitch, but I still try to not sit too long. Of course, it’s very difficult when editing requires a planted bottom for hours on end. LOL

    • says

      Oh, writing is the enemy of healthy living, that’s for sure! It requires some discipline, of which I am immensely lacking. But it is nice that you are stable where you are. It’s probably what writers most need, so they can happily rove in the mind! I love your visits here, ladies – you’re always so warm and positive. Thank you for your kind compliments…that tops it for me today *big hugs* 🙂

  17. says

    Aw, I like the idea of a post like this 🙂 The possum sounds like such a reasonable, well meaning sort of creature 😉 I’ve never actually seen one but they also appear to be rather terrifying on the interwebs!

    • says

      Terrifying? Really? You’ll have to share your interweb finds… They do make a pretty fierce noise, but from what I understand, our possums are extremely timid and frightened creatures. All hiss and no harm 😉

  18. says

    Yes, I can definitely relate to what you say about seeing very clear signs that it’s time to find a place that’s more resonant with you — I moved into a suburban condo in Northern California solely based on the fact that it was located near my former workplace, and last month I moved to a more urban area, which is more in keeping with who I am (I belong to the city like I was Glenn Frey, you know what I’m sayin’?).

  19. says

    Five years at our tiny 1930s gem of an apartment in Milwaukee. We moved there, sight unseen, but the location was amazing and it was super affordable. We had hissing radiators and a strange lack of outlets, amongst many other kooky qualities, like not being able to fit in the claw foot bathtub. It was definitely home and tough to leave, but adventure came knocking so we opened the door to a different life in Portland.

    Good luck to you with your new adventure!

    • says

      I’m loving the sound of your 1930’s gem! Those are quite rare and surprisingly unaffordable in my city these days. But they are so full of character and that homey quality we also love to curse 😉 Look forward to hearing about your new space!


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