Sydney, New South Wales
The fear of commitment
Going around the world. In 80 days. From now. I have my tickets. I'm about to apply for my Irish working holiday visa. I am doing this. And I am freaking out.
In the meantime I am doing my best to enjoy Sydney while I am still here. I really love this city and of course part of me is going to be sad to leave it, but it will always be here for me. Likewise with my friends... I've met a lot of new people in the past year and a half, and also rediscovered a lot of old friends mostly through Facebook. I will miss so many of them, but friends are friends and they will be that way no matter where you are in the world.
Last night I took a rare trip out to Bondi. As I sat in the cab with streets flying by - and I mean flying, since Sydney cab drivers don't mess around - it was almost a reminder of so much of the real Sydney. Winding around on the overpass that looks down on a glimmering Darling Harbour, full of tourists and bar-hoppers... a great mix of pubs, clubs, cafes and nice restaurants. Cutting through the city, with all its shiny treasures in the shop windows that tempt the city workers out of so much of their money. Whizzing by big fancy hotels; my favourite Irish pub; towering office blocks; the jewellery quarter; the low-lying stone cut parliamentary buildings. Running the line between Hyde Park with its avenue of amazing, fairy-lit trees, past the church with the 18 million dollar steeples. Turning the corner onto William Street in Woolloomooloo with its mix of renovated pubs, brightly lit showrooms filled with Maseratis, and the scattered seediness of neighbouring Kings Cross. Past the place that used to be a Ferrari dealership where I once got busy against the glass frontage with a young English tourist who won me over with over-earnest compliments. Under the landmark of the Coca-Cola sign and through the tunnel down to Rushcutters Bay. The turn off to Darling Point - the home of many of Sydney's elite. Up New South Head Road, where a milk bar style hamburger joint is poised next to a designer gowns store. Winding through the hills around the harbour and seeing the architecture of much of Sydney's short history... giant old mansions belonging to the kind of people who's kids hang out at Hugos next to old cubed brick apartments that probably still have a hefty price tag for the glimpse of harbour out the side window. Renovated duplexes and rendered terraces. And down to Bondi Beach. It always amazes me that people seem to be drawn to Bondi... the beach itself is nice enough, but fairly small, and whilst the view from some angles is nice, I think the beachfront shops and area is just a mixture of lifeless and tacky. There's no character. I wonder whether it's because so much of the population is transient, being that it's full of backpackers. The only places with ambience seem to be little hidey-holes where the long-term locals go - but they're hard to find or know about if you're an outsider.
Into the Beach Road hotel, where I've never been before, to find a not bad setting but still very touristy - although with Coopers on tap I'm not too disappointed. Upstairs to see a crowd jumping around next to a big open bar area to the sound of an indie rap/funk type band spitting diatribes about the upcoming election between Howard and Rudd. Preaching between songs to a crowd of mostly non-voting backpackers to vote for Rudd and hate Howard. Most of the people who are listening enough to dance around look of their chops on pills, so I'm not sure if the message is quite having an impact. The lead female reminds me a lot of a friend's sister. The lead male looks like he desperately wants to be a cross between Ziggy Marley and Speech from Arrested Development.
The humidity is palpable. Inside the pub it's bearable, but walking back with my Irish acquaintance to his apartment, I start to feel clammy and remember that this is one of the reasons I'll be so happy to escape to Dublin in the middle of January. Summer hasn't even started yet and I'm already over the heat. I talk with the Irish about how hot it gets - he sounds amazed that it can get above 40 degrees, which I'd have thought he knew before he got a ticket out here. He's not that tall - about the same height as me in heels, if not a bit shorter. Very Irish looking, but in a good way. Handsome face, great smile. My eyes wander across nice shoulders and down to a loose belted waistband on his jeans. I like. We go back to his place - a typical 'boys' gaff' as he says.P ut too many young travelling males in a house and the result can never be good. The place is full of hotch potch Vinnies furniture, single beds, backpacks, football jerseys, bits of paper all over the floor. The room is stuffy and the mess is claustrophobic. He turns the light out.
Afterwards, we emerge clammy and ruffled and go out the front door past a living room full of smug housemates. He asks what I'm doing and I explain I have an early morning and have to head home. He calls his mate and arranges to meet him back out somewhere. I jump in a cab and head home.
I'm still a bit tipsy - probably more to do with the wine I had before I went out than the beers I had while I was there. Maybe the humidity factor as well. My joints hurt and I curse the single bed factor. I exchange a few emails with Ro, and then start falling asleep sitting up. It's time for bed.