Last weekend on a trip up the coast, we stopped for coffee in the township of Braidwood.
Thomas Braidwood Wilson was a surgeon who worked aboard convict ships journeying from England to New South Wales and Tasmania in the early 1800’s. During one of the voyages he managed to transport a hive, thereby introducing the first english honeybees to Australia.

Braidwood is a small town pressed firmly down like a tack into the billowing roll of surrounding hills pretty much at half-way point between where I live and the ocean. As the car drives.
Some 1100 residents currently live here. Originally it supported the local sheep and cattle farming industry, and I guess it still does. But more recently, it seems to have become a draw for artists and craftspeople. And tourists.

There are art and craft shops dotting the street and some neat coffee and eating spots to be discovered.
Waiting for Kelly to buy some bread from the local bakery, I wandered into an antique store for a look see.

I creaked around the old room for a few minutes, amongst the smells of polish and grandparents.
The usual array of tables and chairs and glass cabinets containing neatly arranged fine bone china Beatrix Potter bowls and 1970’s plastic lamps. I quite liked one of the dining tables, but it was snatched away by the sold sticker on one corner.

Working my way around, I passed a slightly open door at the rear of the store. Snooping back a bit, I could see that it led through to a much larger room. The door was obviously meant to be closed, but a vacuum of far more interestingness in here sucked me on past the jam.

Stepping through the doorway I snapped off a quick picture just as the lady owner emerged from a darkened corridor between two large bookcases.

“Can I help you?”
“Er…sorry, I just saw all the stuff in here and wanted to take a picture”
“This stuff? Oh, this is the junk that we haven’t got around to fixing up yet. I have been meaning to have a good clean-out in here for years…….come on in, and have a look around”

The room was dim. Two long skylights transected the roof at either end. They cast broad shafts of light, igniting tiny embers of dust that winked alight for a moment and then died as they swirled on through.

From the high ceiling were suspended a large number of chairs and picture frames, and bits of tables, and….oh, I don’t know, bits of farm machinery? Hanging like junksicles, all swathed in icy neon cobwebs.

Around the walls there were shelves stuffed with old books, and jugs, and boxes of things inside other boxes, and tins with mysterious faded labels. There were plenty of desk lamps, not the plastic kind, but the cool 1960’s architects kind. All metal and spring.

Tables jostled for space, some of their draws opened just enough to see they were jumbled full of mysteries. There were broken wooden toys, and leaning piles of LP records and other things that I cannot remember.

It was an amazing place.
Alas, I did not stay long. I knew Kelly was probably looking for me out in the overexposed main-street I could see through the rippled glass in a high window.

I found her a minute later, looking through the window of another antique store a couple of numbers down the street.
“Kelly, you have got to come check this out.”
We dropped the bread and other stuff off in our car and went back to investigate.
But the door at the back of the shop was closed. Er…..and locked.
Nobody was around except the old dog asleep on an overstuffed couch near the front counter.

So. What has all this to do with anything?
Well, nothing really, its just a story of something that happened to me.

However, it might be a reminder that most of the time we often only see the front room of our patients.
One particular, short experience of them, that we walk around in. Picking up things, evaluating, comparing, labelling, judging. We think we have seen it all.

But there are always more rooms out back.
And sometimes these rooms are far larger and far more full of surprise and discovery and value than we expect.

Maybe you will be invited through the door and maybe you will find it locked.
That is up to the owner.

Just appreciate that they are there.

2 Responses to “The room out back.”

  1. A very nice piece; great writing, insight and extrapolation. Thoughtful! I really like it.

  2. this word sums up that experience

    gnossienne – n.
    The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows Full definition: “n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.”

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