All I’ve ever wanted to do with my life was work at one of the many funeral homes in Perth. I realise that, for a child of nine, that is a very specific career path to have in mind, particularly since I lived in Melbourne at the time. In fact, I can remember the moment I decided that this would be my future with absolute clarity.
My grandfather had just died, of entirely natural causes, and my mother was, naturally, distraught. I hadn’t known him particularly well, he had been a typical, standoffish, ‘children should be seen and not heard’ type of man, and my mother had had a complex relationship with him. For my own part I thought his nose was grotesque and he always smelt like mouldy cheese. Mother’s grief was rendered her practically inconsolable, but it was the lady at the funeral home, beautiful, poised, cold as she was, who managed to bring my mother’s waves of emotion under control. I knew then and there I wanted to be like her, the funeral director, not my mother. That, and his death didn’t really bother me. In fact, it seemed perfectly natural.
As for the Perth part of that equation, that was only added in a couple of months later, when my parents decided I needed to see more of my own country, and so we went on a roadtrip. I fell in love with the city on the beach almost immediately. It was as far away from my family as I could get without leaving Australia, and as an added bonus, it was hot, beachy, and packed with parks. Perfect.
So there you have it. I married my career aspirations with my dream city and wound up deciding to be a funeral director in Perth. It was the best of both worlds, and I smile now, recalling just how well I knew myself at age nine, when I dreamt up this wonderful life for myself. Sometimes, I think I knew myself better then than I do now.