13 June 2011 – As a bit of an experiment, I wrote a series of stream-of-consciousness notes for my last afternoon in Sydney, and I’ve gathered them here.
I am at the food court in Pitt street Westfield mall and can’t stop staring. This is the most decadent food court I have ever seen. Real plates and cutlery. Gourmet pizzas, rich dessert cakes and coffees, a wine bar, specialty pasta. And the architecture! Soft lighting, mirrored panels, a ceiling with unevenly spaced vertical slats, creating an asymmetrical pattern. Leather (faux, I’m sure) chairs with granite table tops, marble floors.
So this is where the rich eat when they shop. And the best part is, everything is affordable. $12 for two slices of gourmet chicken pizza, and I do mean gourmet, with some sort of fancy greens, blue cheese, and a drizzle of yummy dressing. A take-away skinny mocha (pronounced mock-a) is only $4.50.
Even unemployed people can have a meal here. Even if we can’t afford the clothes. Diane von Furstenberg, Escada, Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo – it’s all here. And what blows me away is all the stores are busy! Sydney is definitely a city of wealth.
I just visited the Sydney tower and decided it was a waste of $20. It wasn’t so much an observation deck as it was a floor, and all the windows were marked with handprints, so you couldn’t get a decent photo if you tried. The audio tour was another $10 and to actually go outside onto the real deck, you needed to pay another $40. I was disgusted by the whole operation. Sure the views of Sydney were stunning, the pure expanse of land it covered, but the commercialization ruined it for me. It was neat to pick out places I knew: my old suburb in the north shore, the Coca Cola sign of Kings Cross, the tiny sliver of building where I worked in the financial district. But otherwise, it was a pass.
I am in Hyde park, which seems only fitting for my last day in Sydney, since this is also where I started, sitting on a park bench wondering what the hell I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I still don’t think I’m any closer to the answer, but I’ve made peace with that, and come to realize that thinking too far into the future just causes me to stress and worry. What’s important is to “live in the now” (courtesy of Eckert Tolle) and appreciate the experiences as they happen. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have goals and ambitions – I certainly do – but I’m starting to see that things have a way of working themselves out.
Oprah said something a long time ago that really stuck with me. I’m not quoting her exactly, but she said, “We can have it all, just not all at once.” I look at my friends who are settling down, getting married, having babies, and I am wistful, even a tiny bit jealous, that that isn’t me and my life. But I know it’s not my time. I will have all those things one day, when I am ready, when I have tired of my other adventures, whatever they may be. And honestly, I think of settling down now and feel it’s too soon. I have my whole life to be in a relationship, to hold a steady job, to raise children. Now is the time for me to go wandering, exploring.
As my life in Sydney winds up I’m also conscious how fickle relationships can be. My flatmates, who I was really missing when I moved out, we only got together once in the time I had left. My coworkers who promised to take me out for dinner, organize drinks, never did. Not that I fault them. My life at home was much the same; friendships are often made of convenience and circumstance, people who connect because they are in situations that push them together, where they would otherwise never find their way to one another.
Then there are those random connections that appear from nowhere, two people who meet by chance and instead of fading away over time, miraculously find themselves continually drawn to one another. I’m not just talking romantically either, but all sorts of relationships and friendships, people who experience a genuine connection to one another and stay inextricably linked. That happened to me recently, someone I met in my travels in passing, who I thought I would never see or hear from again, and yet months later we are still writing each other, still making the effort to stay in touch.
Why do some relationships fade and others grow?
It started to rain and so now I am back at the hostel, hanging out in the social area. Where was I going with all this? Ah, yes, relationships are fleeting. The ones that are strong, that remain true, are the ones that transcend time and distance and convenience. The only requirement of those relationships is that when you do finally circle back to one another, because inevitably you do, you accept those people for who they are and how they have changed and grown, for better or worse, since the last time you talked.