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Notes from 1997 | Toronto to Sydney
“Mom, I’m moving to Australia for a year.”
“But … where will you go? What will you do? Where will you live? How will you make money?” my mother asked in her usual motherly way.
Thirty-two long air flying hours later I was sitting at the bus station outside Sydney International Airport without a clue where I would go next.
I sat on the wooden bench for what seemed an eternity, while listening to departure times over the intercom system to cities and towns yet unfamiliar to me. I flipped the pages of my passport in anticipation, but for what? I really had no plan.
When my mother asked her questions, I simply said “I’ll figure it out when I get there.”
Hints of Irish Spring soap filtered through the warm Australian air triggering memories of my childhood past.
He sat down beside me without a care in the world, dropping his green and orange backpack at my feet.
“Hi, I’m Ireland. Where ye heading?”
“I … I … don’t really know. I have no plans. Where are you going?” I said slightly nervous at Ireland’s gregarious smile.
“Kings Cross, it’s the place to be seen! Want to come?”
“Sure, okay.” I naively said.
We hopped on the next bus to Kings Cross station. My body and mind clock still on Canadian time, I was glad to have found this gregarious travel companion.
He ran on in his lovely Irish accent, telling me stories of bombs and beer, talk of jobs and ex’s left behind. His story was similar to mine with the exception of the bombs.
We arrived into the early morning sun and booked a hostel room at Jolly Swagman Backpackers.
“All dorms are co-ed,” said Mr. Dreadlocked, tattooed surfer who sat perched on a stool made of beer cans.
“Coed? Like boys and girls in the same room?”
“Ah, don’t be an eejit! There’s nothing to it. Book us into the same room,” Ireland said.
I didn’t have time to object as he thrust his credit card at the surfer. He booked us for the night into a four bed dorm. Ireland told me I could reimburse him the room fee by buying dinner that evening. I was beginning to feel crowed in Ireland’s presence; he was slightly over-bearing and rather obnoxious.
Thoughts of uncertainty danced in my head, I had never shared a room with a boy, let alone three other stinky boys.
“Hi, my name’s Canada.” I held out my hand in eager anticipation
“Hola, I’m Spain and this is my boyfriend New Zealand.” Spain was gorgeous with long flowing dark locks and a mysterious golden light in his eyes. Did he just say boyfriend?
New Zealand grabbed Spain by the back of the neck and deeply kissed his beautiful Spanish boyfriend. My momentary flash of Spanish romance quickly evaporated into the rising heat of the room.
“Welcome to Kings Cross, Canada,” New Zealand said, barely coming up for air.
I discarded my backpack on the overly used, dusty bunk bed number three and enquired about an eating establishment.
“Eat? Eat?” Spain questioned with a local sarcastic sneer. “This is Kings Cross my dear, the last thing on one’s mind is eating.”
“Well, I’m hungry, it’s been a long day. Did you know I spent thirty-two hours…?”
I was oddly interrupted by a soft twang.
“You’ve come to the wrong place Canada. Kings Cross is a cesspit of sexual desire, a place where dirty deeds are done dirt cheap and a place where food is used for other purposes.” New Zealand squealed.
“Oh.” I said, slightly embarrassed.
Seeking dirty deeds was the last thing on my mind. I’d just finished a long term relationship in Canada. Australia was to be my awakening, my place to find me, a place to seek my soul.
“Ireland, I’m going to grab something to eat. If you want your reimbursement come now, or I’ll give you cash later this evening.”
“I'm coming," boasted Ireland as he slapped Spain and New Zealand on the rear.
I turned to leave when I noticed a sign:
Bondi Beach – A Backpackers Oasis by the Sea
FREE Bus for Backpackers
Daily Departures: 8am and 5pm.
Show up at one of the times. It’s easy.
Early the following morning with a MacDonald’s breakfast settling uneasily into my stomach, I left the three boys to their vices and headed for the beach. I never saw them again until Future knocked and brought me to their door.
On the road to Bondi Beach and independence, I wrote a postcard to my mom: