“You can’t do it,” Deb’s mother is saying, standing at our front door with her hand on the handle. The house had been cleaned specially for the occasion. Even the dishes had been put away, as any clutter in this space that combined our living room, loungeroom, and kitchen made it look chaotic.
“Your mother’s right,” agrees Deb’s father, taking off his old leather work boots and putting them outside on the verandah. He opens the screen door to come inside, rubbing his hand over the bristles that surround the growing bald spot on his head. “It won’t work.”
“We thought we could start classes here–“ Deb starts.
“Deb, look, you haven’t thought this thing through,” interrupts her dad. “Kellyville is in the middle of nowhere – there’s nothing but empty acreage for miles around here. Where the dickens are the yoga students going to come from?” He sits down on the only chair in the tiny kitchen, a patch of white hair poking out from the top of his singlet, and puts his well-worn hat on the table. His legs splay wide, his work trousers sit low on his belly for comfort. I stand, unsure where to put myself. Deb pulls up a lounge chair and kneels on it, so I stand behind her and lean on the back of the chair.
“The suburbs are starting to move this way,” Deb says. “And people will travel. I drove all the way into Randwick when I first started going to classes.”
“What do you think you’re going to do?” Shirl demands. “You're not going to throw in your job I hope! And look at this place! No-one would come here for yoga! What with their big flash houses-“
“Yeah, yeah, Shirl, but the point is,” Bob breaks in, his voice slow and deliberate. “What you’ve got to think about is this: How are you going to make a living from it?” He raises his arms in a shrug, his forehead creases. “It’s just not possible.” He stretches out his legs and displays an overstretched pair of socks, with a hole in each toe.
“I’m going to keep the afternoon shift at work, and run classes in the mornings,” Deb says patiently. “I’ve already done the figures: when I have seven students in five classes a week I will be able to cut down two nights a week at work –“
“Jingoes! Seven people!” her dad exclaims, looking incredulously at the small space. “You’ll never fit seven people in here.”
“Yes, I will,” Deb persists calmly. “I measured the mats and laid them all out on the floor. They’re a bit squashed, but-“
“What’s you back up,” Deb’s mum asks, “when money doesn’t come in straight away; because it doesn’t.”
“I’ll still have my income, and Denice is going to do massage,” Deb says. Suddenly she gets irritated. “Look, you guys started your business from nothing, just like this. Our overheads aren't huge, and there's a bit of money in the bank.”
“Yes,” I break in, eager to support the vision. “Deb was driving down the road and a fifty dollar note blew past her-“
“Yeah,” Deb says. “I was driving down Windsor road when I saw it out flash past, right at eye level. I slammed on the brake, chucked a u-turn and went back and picked it up. We figure it’s a sign. The money has been sent to us to start our yoga school with.”
Deb’s mum raises her eyebrows heavenward, and gives her dad a look that says: ‘You deal with them.’
“We’re going to carpet the loungeroom and dining room,” Deb keeps painting the picture,”and paint the walls, and I just wanted to check if it was alright with you if I put some bolts in the walls for belts,” Deb points to where the belts will go. “Over there. We can patch the walls later and paint over it.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s not a problem, the house is being bulldozed when the developers come in anyway,” her dad says. “But Deb, you’re talking big money here. You’ve gotta think - it won’t pay to spend too much money on it. It’ll all be gone soon. Why don’t you just wait.”
“We’ve been waiting for the developers for twenty years,” Deb said. “You can’t keep putting your life on hold like that. I can’t anyway. We have no idea how long before this land is sold.”
“What about Jessica,” her dad argues. “You can’t run a yoga school with a four year old in the house. Kids don’t understand – how are you going to keep her quiet?”
“Jess will be at day care when morning classes are on,” I say. “So it won’t be a problem initially, until we start classes at night.”
Both of them still look undecided.
“We’re going to start a yoga school,” Deb says quietly. “And if you won’t help us, we’ll run them somewhere else.”
“You’re just being pigheaded,” her mum says crossly. “Won’t listen to reason - just like your father.” Then she slams out of the house and waddles angrily across the drive back to her house. Her Dad shrugs his shoulders and follows her. I see them arguing together at their back entrance before they disappear with a slam of the screen door.
Deb sighs noisily and rubs her forehead with her thumb, then gets herself a glass of water to ward off an impending headache
“I think I’m gonna chuck,” I say, holding my belly. I’m not used to this kind of confrontation. Deb laughs weakly, and hands me a glass of water.
“You’ve gotta harden up,” she says, “Given they live right next door, they’ll be involved in setting up the whole thing, so there will be lots of ‘discussions’ like that. That's just the way they are.”
“I thought they just said you shouldn’t go ahead,“ I say.
“That’s their way of saying they’re gonna help. Here they come,” Deb says, pointing out the window. I follow her gaze. Her mum is marching back across the driveway, two tins of paint in one hand, a couple of paintbrushes and a roller in the other. Bob follows with a ladder and an armful of old painting sheets.
“Jessica will just have to come over to our place when class is on,” Deb's mum says as she dumps the paint tins on the floor. “Do you want pink or blue?”