Mum always tells me I was born during a cyclone and I never know if she’s being metaphorical or not. When I was born, my family lived in the eight block town of Bogan Gate. Dad was in the army, so we got moved around to strange places a lot.
In late January 1988, Bogan Gate was plunged into darkness as Mum went into labour. The local hospital lost power and the next closest was in Orange, over one hundred k‘s away. Mum and Dad’s blue Ford Telstar was broken down at the time, Dad says they had to borrow an army car, fitted out with a CB radio and all.
Dad tells me later, that he had to pull over on the side of the highway halfway through the drive and get Mum to take over because he was too tired to go on. I think about them both, in the car, speeding along the quiet, dark roads out west. They were young, younger than I am now. Were they different people then? Had marriage and children irrevocably altered their sense of self? Their reasons for being? I picture the two of them as best I can. I don’t know if, by that night, the process of change had already begun.
Needless to say, they made it to the hospital in Orange that night, and back home again a few days later. That week, my birth made front page news in the local paper. A clear sign of how little else there was to report on in the tiny town. There was a photo of the four of us, and the headline read ‘Baby sister for little Michael.’ This seemed to indicate how I would spend the rest of my childhood, living in the shadow of my older brother.