Back when I was a snot-nosed little kid I recall asking a female grown-up: “How come husbands are always older than wives?”…
In reality husbands aren’t always older than wives yet somehow my timid little seven-or-eight-year-old mind had picked up on the pattern of males generally being older than their female nuptial counterparts.
…I recall the response being laconic: “Because women mature faster than men.”
Now thirty-two years old I have retained this, approximately twenty-four-year-old, sapient pearl. I have retained furthermore, images of twelve or thirteen years on from that moment, as a twenty-year-old still-aspiring diesel mechanic, looking about myself at my cohort of similarly young men and women, some in training for, some having already secured, and others keen for as long as possible to shirk, entry to the workforce. The latter group – adorned in their grey-marl sweat-pants and their Kahlua-stained singlet-tops, smoking their roll-your-own cigarettes and drinking their cheap cask-wine, subsisting with their egregious eating-habits and packed into their filthiest of flats along with their intermittent utility support; all in an attempt to eke out as much of the hedonism of youth as they possibly could – at the age of eighteen had been quick to jump on board the dole-train.
Also retained from my time as a twenty-year-old aspiring diesel mechanic are images of my sitting before an official-looking lady at the bank along with the signing of legal documentation which would in the coming days, seal ownership of my first home.
I have retained additionally, perhaps pointlessly, the many reaction shots from contemporaries who at that time, were struggling to fathom such a move from one so young. Given that my female to male ‘contemporary’ ratio at the time measured an alarming 4:1, also that I tended to mix with a clique several years older than myself, the majority of these unfathoming queries came from young women two or three years older than I was at the time.
“Why would you want to tie yourself down with buying a house now?” was the most common question I faced…
Incidentally, since that ‘approximately twenty-four-year-old sapient pearl’, other than my elder sister, I’ve known no females who have made such a bold solo purchase; in fact all I have seen is young women who seem content to float from male-occupied accommodation to male-occupied accommodation.
“…I don’t see it so much as ‘tying myself down’,” was my typical response, “as I do, getting ahead.”
“But it’s such a burden,” I recall one particular questioner’s comment, “like, don’t you want freedom?”
“I still have freedom,” I countered, “how is me paying for my house any more constricting than you paying for your shitty little flat?”
“I dunno, I guess, it just seems like, I dunno, like, a mortgage just seems more serious…”
That was at the age of twenty. While I watched silly girls and idiot boys waste their money on pointless enterprises, I paid a mortgage. While I watched silly girls and idiot boys tell lies to each other to get what they desired, I made legally binding agreements. While I watched silly girls and idiot boys spend their weekends tending to meaningless relationships, I put effort into landscaping my property. While I watched silly girls and idiot boys considering that they just might have found true love and deciding to test it through their first of what would turn out to be many garish weddings…
I don’t know, I guess I was out cycling or something.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Sally Gehrl
Photography by Idjut Boyce