The first book I ever read, a tattered paperback picture book called “Changes, Changes”, now sits on Mihiretu’s bookshelf. It has no words so that made the reading easy.
Every picture is made of colored building blocks, different sizes, shapes and colors. You know, early seventies, you make a wobbly tower and then knock it down.
The book begins with a man and a woman, both made of blocks, standing facing the reader. The next page they begin to build a house with more blocks. Soon they’re living in the house then, whoops, the next page a fire has started. They take blocks from the house and build a fire engine and hose, which they use to extinguish the fire in what remains of the house. But, oh no, too much water, soon they’ve created a sea. No worries, they use their blocks to build a boat. And on and on.
So now I’m imagining my life in blocks. I start as a small block person but add blocks to become a grown-up. I build a stage set and take my place in front of it. Then Ben, made of blocks, enters stage right and together we build a little house. We add a little block baby, then another. We take the blocks from the little house and make a bigger house in which the four of us live. Then we build an airplane, fly to Africa, and build a jumping, running, soccer-ball-kicking Mihiretu. And so it goes, one thing building to the next, always changing.
The last few years would find the block Ben and the block Liz back-to-back tending block children. Then maybe eye-to-eye, one block finger raised, one block hand on hip. Then, finally, after many pages, the two disassembling part of the big house, Liz carrying blocks away, making a smaller house.
I’m here in that smaller house now. I moved on New Year’s Day - fitting, I suppose. We are separated, Ben and I. We are, each of us, all five of us, taking the blocks we have and building something new. These changes, sometimes they’re a fire, sometimes they’re a sea. But you keep on building. You take what you’ve got and keep on going, making whatever you can.