Silver Linings

Its been five weeks since we arrived in Sydney. I’m having a love hate relationship with it at the moment and can’t work out which way I’m going to swing.

Some days I wake up desperately missing London and by lunchtime I have a mental list of ten thousand things I hate about Sydney.

Other days when my ridiculously chaotic morning and school run from hell goes smoothly and the sun is shining, I feel good about being here.

Little things are able to change my mind in a nanosecond and I am so erratic with my feelings about being here. It’s exhausting being so indecisive.

The other day I was walking Luca to school with Jude in the stroller and he fell out when the pavement ended into a ditch and the buggy went head over heels. I live in a suburb on the North Shore not far from the CBD, yet there are only footpaths on about 50% of the roads and for the 900m I have to walk to school, most of that I have to push the stroller on the road. How backward is that? God help you if you are wheelchair bound living where I do.

The same day I was talking to a couple of people at school about solar heating and they were discussing how the government should be paying more for it and how they had water tanks for their gardens, etc. etc. and I couldn’t help but think … what the hell? Pretty much every family I know has two cars because Sydney is so archaic about public transport that you have no choice but to drive everywhere. And Australians wonder why our carbon footprint is so large. We can delude ourselves that saving a bit of tap water and generating a wincy bit of solar power will make a difference but while we’re all putting petrol in the ridiculous number of cars we drive it won’t do diddly squat.

So that irritated me. Maybe I’m just a cynical ex-Londoner but I have turned into a public transport convert living in Europe and think Australian bureaucrats are a bunch of idiots the way they harp on about reducing carbon emissions yet pump no money into future public transport systems that would put us somewhere in the realm of a world class city, leaving us to rely on cars.

(I’m not for a second suggesting London doesn’t have many faults but this is my story so roll with me okidoki? …)

Anyway that happened. And I wished I was in London again. Where I’m happy. All the time.

Then I got home and my Mum came over and my Sydney-ometer switched to positive again and I was grateful to be back and to have her around the corner. I got to speak to my sister-in-law for ages on the phone without worrying about the cost of the phone call from overseas and later in the day I organised to have coffee with my brother. Recently I ran the city to surf with my beautiful sister. Again, stuff that wouldn’t have happened had I been in England.

My kids are happy! We have a big garden and own a really lovely house to live in – something we didn’t have in London.

Yet strangely I feel very lonely. I miss the interaction I had with people in Fulham, where I lived in London. Because over there everybody walks everywhere, or catches public transport (most of the time), you see someone you know everywhere you go. I loved that and didn’t realise how much of my socialising was just running into people in the park, or on my run, or on the way home from school. Having that community is so very important and I’m unable to have it where I live now because if you live on the North Shore, you live in your car.

A very clever therapist that I *happen to know has always said to me “Stephanie, life is all about relationships and about being known. Everything comes down to relationships”. He has said many profound things to me over the years but I usually have no idea what he’s talking about until one day it just clonks me on the head. Like this has.

Life is just about relationships. And I miss the ones I had in London. I really, really, really miss them.

But Sydney has brought new ones and re-ignited old friendships.

Today I caught up with a very dear old friend who I used to work at McDonald’s with when we were kids and stayed friends until we left school where we lost contact until I found her on Facebook a few years ago and as it turns out she now works at my son’s school. I am so grateful to have her back in my life and today I walked home from meeting her, with a huge smile on my face and clutching the little present she gave me, thinking ……

…….. My god it’s good to be home!!

See, I told you – erratic!


I have such cool friends ….


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