The Silver Carpet

Legend has it that my grandparents first met at the front gate and the rest, as ‘they’ say, is history. This driveway has seen a few comings and goings in its day and lately I’ve been thinking about that humble little patch of earth.

Members of my mother’s family have walked, ridden and driven up and down the same driveway for over 100 years. It’s been dirt, gravel and more recently concrete. It’s had olives dropped on it and smashed into it for most of that time whilst the garden around it has changed and evolved with the various inhabitants. It’s had a range of kinds of fencing depending on the boundary but now has a fashionable colour bond one to watch over it. And it’s always been a big long welcome mat — kind of like a silver carpet — for so many.

Back when the driveway was gravel I was learning how to ride a bike and I spent hours upon hours going up and down. I hate to think how many hours it was because I had training wheels for about 18 months. I’ve never been too crash hot on the pushy. Which is a shame because I’d love one of those cute little retro bikes. Years later I staggered up the driveway with my brand new mountain bike after coming an absolute gutser on the way home from a piano lesson. Turns out I’d broken my arm.

Sometime after the first time I’d moved out of home and before I moved back in, mum and dad did some renos and amongst other things, pimped out the driveway. Gone was the gravel, the ‘star of Bethlehem’ plants (which apparently are called agapanthas) and the tiny little lopsided wire fence that was easy to step over to retrieve the footy from next door and in its place, a glorious soft, concrete driveway. But not without a battle. There was an enormous big pole that held the front gates up very firmly set in the ground. It took dad, my three brothers and my uncle all they had and more to finally get it out. And these are all pretty burly blokes. Apparently the original Grandad also liked a job done properly and there was as much of the pole under the ground as there was above. I hope he had a good laugh watching the goings on. Dad was pedantic about his driveway. There are drip trays under the carport so that not a drop of oil will ever make its mark. Shane used to drive some pretty dodgy cars so during our courtship he didn’t park in the driveway in case he dropped oil. It was that serious. The only time the kombi got in the driveway was when dad and I were pushing and pulling it up and down the driveway to get it started after the starter motor gave up the battle three days out from our wedding.

That driveway has carried us in and out of some of the happiest and saddest days of our lives. It’s felt our silent triumph and absorbed our deepest hurt. It has stood witness to countless hellos and goodbyes and probably knows us better than we know ourselves. My dear friend Jose once said “perhaps it is not that old houses ever belong to people but that people belong to old houses”. She’s probably right because she always is. But don’t forget the driveways!