mercredi 18 juin 2008

Sydney Harbour, last ferry to Balmain.

The last ferry to Balmain leaves just before midnight. This isn't a route I took very often, but it was the route I took this October evening, back in 1993.

Sydney had marked me, had changed me and improved me. I grew up while I was there. I was no longer a petulant kid. I was a grown man who knew what he wanted out of life. I was no longer afraid of the 'C' word. Yes, I wanted a career.

I'd been living in Darlinghurst, in Sydney's eastern suburbs / inner city for just under a year. I had a home there. A home that I shared with two really great friends. I had a job there too - a job that I really loved and a boss that I really admired. And not just for the fact that every year she would go to New York to 'update her wardrobe'.

I had a great circle of friends and I had a pretty operational 'little black book' for when the need arose. My life was full, complete, happy and balanced.

I'd go to the gym before work (the City Gym on Crown Street, where I once did a step class with Eartha Kitt - oh yes, the actual one, the one and only - going up and down on the step next to mine) and on the way into the office I'd grab a focaccia sarnie from my favourite sandwich shop ever - 'How the Focaccia?' in the CBD....

I'd go out after work with friends and we'd catch movies, shows and social diseases together. We'd spend our weekends clubbing and never miss the thursday night Kylie drag show. One night, I rushed down to our local on Oxford Street after being summoned by my friend. Tom and Nicole (of Cruise and Kidman fame) were playing pool in the bar. She was gorgeous. He was Tom cruise.

As you can see, I'd put down roots. But as you'd expect from me, I'd put down roots somewhere that I couldn't stay.

I was fast approaching the end of my 12-month visa.

My boss came up with a cunning plan to sponsor me for a residency permit. She'd get to keep the best assistant she'd ever had (aka moi) and I'd get to stay in Australia.

I planned a two-week trip back to the UK to see the family and explain my decision. Then I sat back to wait for my passport to come back from immigration, with the permit duly stamped inside.

Ten days before my holiday, my passport came back.

I was starting to worry that I'd have to cancel the trip. Alas, I did cancel the trip - well, the return trip anyway.

My passport came with a letter. My visa had been denied. I had to leave the country before the end of the month.

I left my house in Darlinghurst. And for the last couple of days I stayed with my best friend who had moved to Balmain.

The last ferry that night was the last ferry for me.

The little yellow and green Sydney ferry headed out of Circular Quay.

Past the Opera House, under the Harbour Bridge and across to Balmain.

The lights of the harbour were beautiful, the water inky-black. I cried and cried.

I wasn't leaving a love behind. This time I was leaving a life.

28 commentaires:

softinthehead a dit…

OMG what a great post. I hope you have been back since. So many farewells to different places and people, I can so relate.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

I've been back lots since. And have gone from being broken-hearted when it came to leaving (the first few return visits) to still loving the place, but not at all wanting to stay beyond a holiday (the last few visits).

Weird, no?

Breenlantern a dit…

what a touching tale. I live with the pangs of building a life where i did not want one and not being able to build one where i did. I can afford to visit the places I love regularly, but not to move there permanently. I have managed to carve out a great life here: husband, career, friends, dog, family, activities, favorite water hole etc etc but there is still that sadness that I am where i wound up, not where i aimed to be....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hey BL, nice to see you here.

It's strange where life takes us isn't it? I'm constantly amazed (and sometimes appalled!) at where I end up.

I can totally relate to being where you wound up, not where you want to be - but I think we have it the opposite way round....I'm in the country I want to be in, a city that I love, but I never thought I'd end up doing it all on my own.

aims a dit…

Oh sweetie....you wrenched my heart with this one. I wanted to storm the visa office and demand that they let you stay! I wanted to blow a hole in the ferry and make it sink so that you could swim to shore...you can swim can't you? I wanted to sit beside you and pat your knee and say 'life sucks sometimes doesn't it?'

I just wanted to be your friend back then....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Aims, please don't go blowing up any Sydney ferries, will you? Promise me now....

The good thing is that I still have some fantastic friends from those days. And plenty of very happy memories.

david mcmahon a dit…

G'day from Melbourne, Australia,

As a lifetime traveller, this post struck a deep, deep chord.

New York City-based Daryl sent me the link to your blog.

Good on ya ....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

G'day to you David. I have some pretty fancy memories of Melbourne too...

Anyway, great to see you here - please feel free to come back and visit whenever you want - there's lots of travel here, combined with an unhealthy dose of heartache and the occasional pair of yellow sneakers....

Medbh a dit…

"no longer afraid of the C word."
Nice one, Travelling!
Damn those immigration officials.

Momma a dit…

What a beautiful post, with some wonderful imagery and emotion. I found you through Daryl's post-script on David McMahon's blog. Wonderful...D

robin a dit…

I'm put in mind of the Go-Betweens song 'Darlinghurst Nights', another worthy evocation of comings and goings in that suburban Sydney milieu.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Medbh, I think I'm pretty much over the C word these days. Who wants a career?

Isn't wanting a career, like, really last decade?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Momma, thanks for the kind words. I'm going to drop by yours and David's at some point today and see who my new friends are!


Robin....

"I opened a notebook, it read “The Darlinghurst Years”
I snapped it shut but out jumped some tears"

Such a good song. Great lyrics.

Lola a dit…

This is too spooky. I had just the same feeling leaving Sydney when my 12-month visa was up (but a few years before you). First Israel, then Australia - are you following me?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lola, it's quite possible that I am following you...it's all a bit spooky, as you say!

After Sydney, I moved to Cardiff, then to Orleans, then to Birmingham ...any of those sound familiar?

wontletlifedefineme a dit…

Oh no! Why did they deny you a visa? Have you been back since?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Marjolein, quite correctly, they denied my visa because an Australian could have done the job - there was nothing special about my skill that made me essential for that position.

I've been back lots since - for work, for play. And I'm meeting some friends from Sydney for holidays in four weeks time...much excitement!

mrsnesbitt a dit…

What a wonderful post. I was absolutely hooked.
What a significant journey.

red a dit…

Beautiful post.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Mrs Nesbitt, thanks...it turned out to be very significant. It definitely changed the direction of my life.


Hey Red, thanks. Good to see you over here again!

Daryl a dit…

Oh I am sad ... but what a good post ... I am glad you have gotten that career ... I wish it would bring you to NYC

:-Daryl

alan a dit…

beautiful post. Just gorgeous.

LOL @ "update her wardrobe"


{did I just say "LOL @"? Yikes}

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Daryl, it was a sad moment, but I got so much out of that year - in terms of fun, friends, direction...that I look back and see only happy times.

And I too wish that my work would bring me to NYC...maybe one day, eh?


Alan, lovely to see you sir. And yes, you DID say LOL @....such a dreadful use of text-speak can't go unpunished. Now let me think...

Swearing Mother a dit…

That was fab.

Valleys Mam a dit…

Phew luck escape you could have ended up being a sheila

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hi Sweary...Hi VM.

A sheila indeed. I'd have been a poofta, and proud of it too...!

Cuckoo a dit…

Having lived in Sydney, I can so much relate to this post. What a wonderful & sad coincidence.

Well written.

Have a great weekend.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hi Cuckoo. Lovely to see you here. hope you have a great weekend too!