Thanks to a recent psychotic episode (no, really) of a relative, and by delightful coincidence watching Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ while this relative let rip on my Facebook feed, I have to process stuff again. It invariably comes back to the first traumatic experience I can remember, and it links to why I am a bit obsessed with horses.

I was six. I can’t remember if I was a little terrorist. Certainly, looking at my academic record and school attendance and reports from teachers I was well-adjusted, but maybe I turned into a little vampire or something at home. Either way, I was six years old. I don’t remember what happened to lead up to the next event, what I do remember is being pinned up against a concrete pre-fab wall on the furthest boundary wall of my grandmother’s property, where we were living in a caravan – or trailer home as the Americans call it (yup, I had a brush with being white trash and I loved it. This is part of the problem, that I like being cheap, dirty, lazy, etc and my family takes Severe Offense). Anyway, so I’m pinned against this concrete wall, and my grandmother and aunt, who to this day still lives with her, are both lashing into me. Hitting me and hitting me. I remember screaming that they are witches and I am adopted (cover my bases, these things tend to be hereditary). I don’t know when they stopped, but my nose was bleeding and I was feeling quite sore. My mom was working (her default state) and my dad was building a house about 2,6km away (according to google). We were living in a trailer to save money on rental so we can build a dream home with minimal debt. This is the 80’s. The home building was something that we, as an individual collective with an idea of what a home is, kept trying to do with building materials when we should have used softer things like talking. And we should have left the bloody dominee out of it.

So I went back to the trailer, cleaned up, put on my favourite dress – it had minnie mouse on the chest and the skirt was light yellow and white stripes. Then I ran away for the first time. I ran away many times in my life, but somehow I knew that coming home, staying fed and clothed and washed, was the best investment to finish my education, because that was the Ticket Out. I don’t know if it really is, and this compromise between maintaining troubled relationships to build my own destiny has remained a defining feature of my life. I think my family are now cottoning on and are Terribly Upset. I consider it economic restitution. So I don’t know if anyone ever knew I was running away. I was just not there for long amounts of time. (My family keeps saying that they miss spending time with me when I was younger, and I wonder what they mean. If they can recall a single conversation we had)

So I ran away to where my dad was building the dream home. On the way there I passed horses in a paddock on O’Reilly Merry street. They came over and nuzzled my hand, and that was the sum total of affection I received that day. That is why I am a little bit obsessed with horses.