Two years ago, I went the furthest I have ever been from home without knowing I would end up staying the longest time I have ever had to be away from my loved ones. And now I’m leaving a new home and a new group of loved ones. Australia, Sydney and Randwick have become my home, my safe haven, a part of my heart and identity. I had the opportunity to not only reconnect with Sharon, I’ve also met people who have endured my mood swings and insecurities, who have gone out of their way to make days that mattered special, and who have asked for nothing in return.
Once upon a time, we were loaded backpackers who stayed in hostels and ate out and shopped and bought a Greyhound pass, only to use it a couple of times before moving into a pink van, Princess Rosie. We saw the East coast and slept in parking lots by the beach or old ranches and didn’t shower for up to four days and sometimes, we had to make our own toilets. We drank boxed wine and ate pasta and canned soup and cheese out of a box and used free barbecues on beaches or camp sites to make kangaroo steaks with green beans smothered in garlic butter. We listened to King by Years and Years and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, and we sang loudly out of the window and sometimes received claps from other cars stuck in traffic with us. We were stranded in the outback for 24 hours and saw the starriest sky and driest land and got drunk and were scared of dingos.
We moved to Mildura with empty bank accounts and started slaving away for no money. Eventually, we found ourselves in a house with heating and decent people and a job at an orange factory. We drove ourselves mad with long days of non-stimulating work and complicated love affairs and boredom and lack of connection to the real world – except from the one on TV. We eventually started throwing parties on our one day off a week: raves, Mexican dinners, etc. We drank goon and went to K-Mart and factorie and Coles and walked up and down every single aisle for hours, passing the time and spending most of our hard-earned money.
After 4,5 months and a couple of emotional breakdowns, I followed my boyfriend to Bondi and crashed his apartment for a full month, sleeping in a single bed in the room he shared with Darren. Sharon finally came back to me and we slept on their couch while we were looking for a place of our own and I was breaking up with my boyfriend, and we went to the liquor store in our PJs because we were so out of our minds by this point. We met up with potential housemates and looked at houses and finally found 1/44 Waratah Avenue in Randwick.
We moved in on December 1st and had no electricity and ate KFC on the floor with our citronella candles around us to see. We hadn’t even put our beds together. We found furniture for cheap on Gumtree or for free on the streets, and dragged a heavy coffee table from Coogee beach on a hot, hungover Saturday, while people were laughing at us. We had a shit brown couch and this heavy coffee table that was too big and a broken shelf full of books, kinder toys and post cards. Our kitchen was full of empty wine bottles (usually whispers $5 wines) and goon boxes. We had a shit housemate that we fell out with who then moved out and Tanya came into our lives. We spent most nights on the shit brown couch watching The Bachelor in our matching PJs or Disney movies and singing along loudly and drinking wine.
I started spending my weekends getting up at the break of dawn and doing the coastal walk, which calmed me down a lot. The crashing waves reminded me that chaos can be beautiful too. Sometimes I’d walk around Centennial Park instead, or keep going past the coastal walk, till I reached Watson’s Bay and The Gap. The farthest I managed to go was 25 km.
I’ve gotten up before the Devil put his shoes on and tied my hair up and taken a full bus and walked from Hyde Park to whatever coffee shop I’ve been working at, and written down hundreds of different orders every day, and still learnt nothing about coffee, except that dirty chais and flat whites are delicious. I’ve had the sweetest customers remembering my name, bringing me gifts, giving me job offers or even asking me out. Some of them were known from TV, some of them were regular Joes.
Sharon and I didn’t know we would end up being this close after all these years being apart, but she’s been my rock, my Momma D, the Peppa to my Salt, the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope and I could not, would not have done this without her. I love her so much and appreciate everything she’s done for me, like comfort me when I’ve been sad, bringing me kinder eggs and wine and soup and little presents. She’s gotten me keychains, socks, t-shirts, make-up bags and lipsticks, just because she thought of me when she saw them. She’s listened to me complain and complain and complain. She’s endured my Impulses and allowed herself to be dragged out to check off items from my bucket list. She’s made my birthdays away from home great, and my Christmases even better. She has sat on the couch with me night after night and watched every Parks and Rec episode over seven times, and Married at First Sight and Gogglebox and Studio Ten and The Living Room and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
Craig and I met when I was troll dancing in Scubar on one of our first days in Sydney. Our butts accidentally touched and we started talking and I told him I was from Kenya and he called my bluff immediately. We danced until 3 am, which is late for me, and we invited him to my room for goon the next day and we went to his hostel with our kangaroo and koala hand puppets and gave his room mates the impression that we were bat shit crazy, and we met up with him and Andy in Brisbane and spent ten days drinking goon and playing Heads Up and singing Bohemian Rhapsody and going on late Maccas run, because Craig and I were the only ones who could find it. We spent months in a van, where I navigated and found accommodation and DJ’ed and Craig tried get us to our destination safely and sang along to all the songs I forced him to listen to. He’s listen to me complain and complain and complain. He’s going to endure me for another month in New Zealand. Poor thing.
Tanya came into our lives when our old house mate left on the sourest note possible. Suddenly we found ourselves sitting on the couch, drinking wine and singing Disney songs as we usually did, and she would join in without hesitation and she became one of us that very moment. She has taken me out for drinks and good talks and bad karaoke every time I’ve needed it, and she’s always been there with a filthy remark or a nice cuddle or a cold cider. She went out of her way to make my birthday so special, when I couldn’t even be there for hers. It’s been a blessing living with not just one but two amazing girls who’s (almost) always been on the exact same page as me.
As everyone knows by now, Mildura was one of the hardest times we’ve had to endure. The people there helped me get through it all though, and even though I sometimes hated them so much I would lock myself in a room or jump out of a window and disappear for hours, I made friends that were always there to watch Masterchef or The Bachelor with me. Friends that stood up for me when I was threatened by a psycho. Friends that let me stay at their place for way too long, because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Friends that have celebrated birthdays and Christmases and New Years Eves and random (blacked out) Sundays with me and introduced me to other great people. I’m especially honoured to have been a part of little baby Harri’s life – it’s been so amazing to see this little thing in Rhi’s belly grow into a tiny human with the most beautiful smile and coolest outfits and I’m humbled by the fact that they’ve even let me around him so much.
New Years Eve 2015 started out as the worst night ever, but turned into one of the best, because that night we met some amazing people, while sitting on the balcony of the surf club in Bondi. Henry deserves a special mention, because not only did he let Sharon and I cat- and housesit for 10 days in a beautiful flat with AC in 30 degree heat, he’s also kept me fed with steaks, burgers or yum cha, buying me the best caramel thick shake I’ve ever had, and coming on a ghost tour with me.
There are a few people that deserve some love, even if they don’t fit into a certain category. Aitor took me under my wing at my very first café job in Sydney, and always kept me entertained and taught me everything I know about coffee and beer, which isn’t much, but still. He’s given me so many of his amazing homebrewed beers for free, and helped me order some great beers at little bars I would’ve never gone to otherwise. We’ve played laser tag and gone in the bumper cars and to Irish pubs, and when I was in a really bad job, he helped me out and gave me a new job. He’s been the best co-worker and manager and friend and I’m so glad I met him (and got to taste all his delicious beer)! He also introduced me to Ellie, who has been sunshine on shit days at work and who all the customers thought was my sister, and we’d laugh everytime. We’d go get drunk at Aitor’s bar and try to embarrass him in front of his boss and instead embarrassing ourselves by getting wasted off three beers. We met Siobhan, who’d always climb onto our balcony and see if anyone was up for drinks, and who came by for Christmas Dinner with presents and went to the Races with me.
Last and least, I guess I should mention the misadventures of dating. it wouldn’t have been the same without. I had never been on a date before I got to Oz. I had never met anyone on Tinder and I had been single for a long, long time. I surprised myself big time when I suddenly went out on a Tinder date in Melbourne. I was surprised when I fell for someone in Mildura, and surprised that he fell for me too. When we fell apart, so did I. I dated two Matthews and one Mathew without much success, and then there was Tinder guy who I dated for three months and was really starting to like. Ultimately, I learned never to date anyone ever, because it’s just asking for trouble. So I got my heart broken a little bit over the years, but the worst heartache is saying goodbye to the ones that made my life in Australia what it was: the time of my life.