Mistletoe & wine

Day 400 - Sydney

My list of favorite cities reads like the signage above an international fashion store or perfumery - London, Paris, New York...um...Sydney. So the latter is somewhat incongruous but here I was carried back across the country on the wings of fond remembrance and affection. I was on a high, in my mind (a fertile, febrile place) returning like a conquering hero. Flushed with western success life seemed a simpler game or if not simpler then one at which I was now more adept. I'd taken a room in Coogee for a couple of weeks and its streets (street) and bars (bar) held happy memories. Amy and Laura were my temporary flatmates, Jeanette, being away for Christmas, was the other resident whose room I had taken. I went directly from the airport to CBH not even stopping to dump my bags. Amy and Jayne were back from their tomato farming and familiar faces were there in force. Christmas is an understated affair in Australia, they don't go in for the cold, dark days broken by warm light seeping from shop windows and twinkling off decorations that I missed from my chocolate box memories of home. And home is where the period would have been spent had I the financial wherewithal. As it was it would be my second consecutive Christmas out of the old country, hopefully there won't be a third. Life In Sydney was much the same as before and yet also tragically different. Me and the girls had the eve in an Irish pub with an obligatory nightcap at CBH. Christmas morning, a little gift giving and receiving (more the latter on my part) at Kirsty and Ferris' flat in which the girls were staying and then I went back to mine for a collective dinner with Amy, Laura and friends. The climate had made a decent effort to allay any homesickness and steadily threw down rain all day. My new flatmates would not be deterred from Christmas on the beach though and headed down with umbrellas and festive bikinis. I rejoined with A&J for a cup of mulled wine in the afternoon. Actually if I recall correctly it wasn't mulled wine, it was gallons of beer. Having said that the memory of much escapes me but we ended up at Morooka (home of several friends in Coogee) for more drinks and dancing before finally making it to the beach for a early hours swim in our underwear, a heady sight to be sure. As the sun rose on boxing day the girls pushed me home in a shopping trolley, my wallet, sadly, stayed on the beach. The messiness of festivities over I knuckled down to finding work, reasoning that my prior success would stand me in good stead. There was no anticipation of the difficulties that lay in this endeavour. I was also shortly to be homeless due to Jeanette's return. Handily Laura would soon be away for 2 weeks herself opening up a vacancy in her room but there was a few days gap between the coming and going. Rather than a hostel I opted to crash with Amy and Jayne who were now living up in Bondi Junction. Their flatmates had disappeared just before Christmas to where we knew not and were back we knew not when. The door opened one evening just before New Year and they entered with two friends and a notable disinclination to speak to us. Seven barely acquainted people crammed into a 2 bed flat made for an awkward few days! Sydney is a city famed for the way they see in the New Year with their spectacular fireworks launched from the harbour bridge, it would be a good bucket list tick. A few of us setup in a park in Balmain to ensure a good view. And spectacular they were, probably the best display I've ever seen. But my night was barely begun with the gong of midnight. Emily was in Sydney and had urged me to book tickets to a boat trip around the harbour to begin at 4am New Year's day. Without understanding what exactly it entailed but in need of some sort of firm NY plan (this was a couple of weeks previously) I had duly booked. I'd kept a steady hand on my alcohol intake over the evening so had few difficulties making it to Darling Harbour for launch. The next 6 hours passed in a mildly euphoric sway, the dance music suitably ambient and the party in muted pleasure. Everyone stepped blinking off the boat at 10am glazed with sweat from the first sunrise of 2013 but in a happy daze.

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