Moving to LA has given me a new appreciation for Sydney and Australia – one I almost certainly wouldn’t have developed if I’d never left.
Having been born and raised in Sydney, I spent my first 33 years there, and – especially recently – certain things were starting to grate on me. The increase in crowds seemingly EVERYWHERE (Seriously, do people have nothing better to do than drive around for 45 minutes looking for a parking spot, only to then line up for an hour to order an overpriced and overhyped gelato?!), the endless traffic (It’s Sunday, people! Get off the roads!), unaffordable housing (So, I guess I’ll just live at home forever…), the high cost of living (“$16 for a toasted cheese sandwich?! Is it cheaper if you don’t toast it?!”), the high rise apartments popping up everywhere (Oh, look – another crane…), expensive and unreliable public transport (Signal failure? Again? Really?), the pretentious douchebags mixed in with our heavy drinking culture (“I’m gonna get really pissed tonight!” said no American ever), and an out of touch government (If we all ate less avocado smash, we’d be able to afford houses apparently. Problem solved. You’re welcome, Australia!)
You get the idea… Sydney was beginning to feel incredibly hostile. I was drained, exhausted, and tired of fighting a battle I felt destined to lose. It was time for a change. Time to step out of the bubble, get off the treadmill and set off on a new adventure…
What I didn’t expect though was just how much I would actually miss Sydney. It turns out my old foe was actually also my friend. Let’s just call us frienemies… And while I’m sure all the things that aggravated me about Sydney haven’t changed, putting some distance between us has made me able to appreciate the good things!
For one, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, something which is easy to take for granted when you’re constantly surrounded by it. It’s also clean! That was one of the things I found most shocking when I first arrived in LA – there’s so much rubbish littering the streets here.
Collectively, we’re also incredibly laidback and friendly. No problem is ever too big for Australians (except for legalising gay marriage and accepting refugees, but that’s another blog post…). I noticed this while attending a movie screening in Hollywood with my Aussie friend, Tade recently. The lady on the door was being especially snappy with all of the guests. Her rudeness was actually shocking to me.
“Well, she seems delightful,” I murmured to Tade.
“Are people still nice in Australia?” Tade replied excitedly. “Oh my God! They are, aren’t they?!”
Tade has been living in LA for two-and-a-half years, and in that time, she hasn’t gone home once. She said even just listening to my accent was making her homesick.
“I’m going home in January, and I can’t wait!” she told me. “The first thing I’m going to do is stick my head under the tap and drink the water!”
“What’s wrong with the water here?!” I asked her, a rising level of panic in my voice.
“You haven’t been drinking the water, have you?!” she shot back.
“Yes!” I practically shouted at her.
“No one drinks the water in LA! Everyone drinks bottled water!”
More than an hour later, I was still obsessing about the water situation… No wonder I’d had a funny stomach for the last four weeks. What the f***, America?! This is a first world country!
“I just ran into Nicole Kidman in the toilet!” Tade told me after returning from the bathroom.
“That’s great… Seriously, what’s wrong with the water?!” I asked her again.
The film just so happened to be an Aussie movie called Lion. There was a scene where one of the characters says, “Australia is a great place!” That was it – I was gone. Tears started streaming down my face, as I silently told myself, “It really is.” I cried even more when the camera panned across the iconic Australian landscape.
A few days ago, I went into Bath & Body Works – a shop in the US.
“Are you Australian?” the shop assistant asked me.
“What gives me away? Is it my accent or my Akubra hat?” I replied.
Despite the fact I was being a smart ass, we spoke for a bit, and she told me how she’d lived in Sydney for seven years. I asked her if she’d ever move back there.
“No, because my family and friends are here – this is my home,” she explained. “This is where I belong.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” I told her.
I’ve met some amazing people in my short time here, and I know I’ll meet some more along the way, but they don’t erase the family and friends I have waiting for me back home. As cheesy as it sounds, home is where the heart is, and – much to my surprise – my heart is still very much in Australia.
So while I’m determined to make the most of my adventure in the US, I know that one day I will return home, and Sydney and I will just have to find a way to get along. Because even though you’re beautiful, you don’t have to be a bitch about it, Sydney…