Seven days have come and gone and I already feel incrementally more brave while navigating the streets of Sydney. An hour after arriving in Oz, I dove in headfirst toward a friendship via intro from a San-Francquaintance to check out a potential living space... then began the 9-5 grind on my first morning down under (after a quick, jet lag-inspired jog around Darling Harbour - see above). My mind, body and internal clock were in a tailspin. After a full weekend to debrief, reflect, apartment-hunt and meander leisurely, I felt both space emerge and emotions flow within my near-to-bursting brain and heart.
From the moment I boarded the plane in Honolulu, everything seemed (dare I say) almost too easy. I’ve had blessings, flukes and guardian angels accompanying me literally every step of the way. From Ali in my first ever cab from Sydney International and Pete the cold-calling flatmate candidate to the staff at my serviced apartment and Yvone at the local bank (yes! I have a bank!), every local I’ve encountered has welcomed me and/or extended more assistance than I could have thought to request.
Sydney is eclectic, comfortable and familiar but also novel. There are tastes of Europe in its buildings and flavours of Asia on its many storefronts, balanced atop a San Francisco-esque wharf on water. Each of my first mornings, I ventured out in coat and scarf (it’s winter here!) expecting a chill while met with a damp, warm breeze from the harbour nearby. I take an approximately 13-minute zig zag to our office through the “CBD,” or Central Business District, each time choosing a different side of the street so that I can observe coffee stands, signage for pub events and unique calls-to-action in the Aussies' local advertisements.
Preparing for my day feels nomadic and scattered, as I prepare my instant coffee (thinking of my tiny Hong Kong apartment with Em) and text my family in our iMessage convo; by then, they’re well into both afternoon and conversation. I catch up on the day’s social media while blowdrying, and realise that I’m reading the prior day’s news after I’ve finished experiencing it.
The notion of waking each day knowing that I am precisely seventeen hours ahead of my dearest loved ones is only a teeny bit lonely. It’s not unlike being the first off the high-dive or the sucker at the front of the queue for a haunted house: You tip-toe timidly, your friends egging you on with certainty that you’ll all survive but — if not — conviction that you’re the best candidate to be eaten first. I’m inching on in anticipation, terror, and solitary self-mustered courage (since there’s no one here to pep-talk me into it), and the same sensation greets me at the finish line too as my day winds to a close.
The exact hour I am wrapping up work, the clock is striking 12 back on the West Coast of the States. This means that as soon as I’m ready to unplug and unglue from screens, debrief my day and reconnect with my family, they’re most often asleep. As the days go on, I am finding this obliged independence increasingly positive. My second Monday for example, an aforementioned mishap in reading the train schedules led me to enjoy an unexpected Italian dinner while reading the local Sydney Herald; I also met a local business owner and enjoyed a home-made limoncello at Jet Bar, a spot I'd been eyeing daily during my walks home.
Geraldine of The Everywhereist is quite literally keeping me company on the nights that I lie awake, jet lagged and sleepless (thanks, Jill). My other best friends include but aren’t limited to: the nice Indian girl at the front desk (who studies hospitality and lives onsite at the Mantra!), the instructors from my LinkedIn Learning courses (Britt Andreatta in particular), the sexy-ish doorman at 1 Martin Place, and the bellhop with the giant smile outside the Westin Sydney. I wouldn't have made it this far if it weren’t for the check-ins and weather-forecasts from my BFF Chels, good-luck texts and stateside Snaps… not to mention my Daily Dose from the unrivalled love box by my bedside.
Next stop: the turbulent taxi process along my hunt for "home."
A broad down under