I have been having a bit of a love-in with Sydney these past couple of weeks. Perhaps it is the weather, perhaps it is the location of my course – bang smack in the middle of the city – and driving over the bridge every morning to reach it. It could be the coffee, the succession of fantastic Thai dinners, or looking up all of the places I want to take the SG when he gets here (and all the places he has discovered he wants to go, thanks to a book on Australia he was recently gifted). Either way, the vibe has been good, the chemistry strong. After a couple of weeks of utter weirdness being back here, the past fortnight has replenished our complicated relationship.
But then last night, something happened.
I was sitting in a restaurant with my Dad and my sister and I suddenly realised that everyone in that restaurant represented a type of person I have a problem with. There were farcical hipster glasses (is the term ‘hipster’ even still in use?) and man-buns (so Euro) a list of organic wines written on the wall in chalk. Bodies were positioned for optimal exposure. There was so much coolness in the place, the cool was tripping over itself to be seen, heard, approved of, loved, documented, replicated. Sipping my unfiltered organic wine, I said to my sister in a completely judgmental way, ‘I don’t like anyone here. These are my worst nightmare kind of people.’ It’s not that I have a problem with hipster glasses and man-buns and organic wine per se … I have a problem with people being so palpably aware of their own image you can almost taste the contrivance. I have a problem with every single item on a person’s body, every single place they situate that body, every single thing the body and its mind are interested in, being nothing more than measurements of cool in the ongoing, empty, meaningless quest for constant coolness. It drives me wild. It makes me want to break things. And then leave.
Last night in a Justin Hemmes restaurant all decked out to look like a ridgie didge fish and chip shop (the world’s most expensively re-furbed one full of the world’s jazziest fish and chips) the cracks started to reappear in Sydney and my relationship. The cracks that have always been there, the ones that played a large part (along with a touch of wanderlust) in merrily propelling me away from this fair town. The ones that are probably, apart from this being the city of my birth, the most defining element of my relationship with this place. They moved quickly, the fissures did. By this morning I was snarling at every single French Bulldog I saw (which must be the current dog du jour among the young and pretty in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs because they were being walked by every remotely cool looking individual with skinny legs and the right sunglasses). By tonight I was ranting to my mother as I reheated some stir-fry with the frenetic energy of evening-hunger, ‘Sydney would be so brilliant if Sydney-siders didn’t give so much of a shit. Everyone is just so fucking concerned with being cool.’
As the fissures spread, however, the relief flows somewhat. I was worried my relationship with Sydney would have matured a little, would have moved into calmer waters. I was worried I would want to dock here a while, would find it too hard to sail back into the icy waters of the North Sea. But as Sydney and I continue to bump heads and piss each other off, as we continue this push and pull, I relish the layers of confidence that pile upon my pre-made decision to head off again as soon as is feasible.
And in the meantime, instead of getting all worked up about dickheads in big glasses (all the better to be seen with, obviously) I am going to enjoy more days like this. And Instagram them.