“Is it utterly ridiculous to save up for my birthday and fly to Barcelona?” I was chatting with my best guy friend on Facebook and he replied with laughing smileys. I thought to myself, OK… Barbara, that’s so ambitious. Maybe it’s a bit over the top. I’m saving for a lot of things that are more important, so probably a flight to Spain is not the most ideal. As you know, it takes me a little while to process my very unpredictable thoughts. But then he followed up with, “Not really. It’s your life. Go.” So my very fickle brain got thrilled and I started to research how to obtain Schengen Visa as a Filipino in Australia. Hahaha. That’s my goldfish brain for you.
After my very long and emotional post a week ago, I felt relieved and somehow got a bit of my drive back. I am slowly trying to be productive after having a rest due to a 5-day headache. So for almost 5 days, I was in my room, writing business plans, answering Finance and Management assignments, finishing some tasks for my online jobs, and monitoring my roster schedule for my new work for the next coming days. Sydney weather is as erratic as ever, and I have been hiding from the rain for a couple of days. As I write this post, I am looking at flight tickets to cities that are on my bucket list. It excites me to be booking plane tickets and accommodations, although at the moment, I am just checking how much roughly would I need (if ever). Then again, I have a lot of bills and dues to pay. So…
But looking back, my life in Sydney wasn’t that bad after all. I’ve had a fair share of memories in multiple suburbs around here, without booking any flights at all, and it still surprises me how I have managed to live well since then.
My first ever home in New South Wales was at Fairfield, at my cousin’s studio apartment right beside the train station. It was in Fairfield when I learned how to catch the train, how to do my groceries by myself, how to be a Sydney commuter. I can remember the two Filipino shops just in front of each other where I used to buy a stick of isaw for $5 AUD (Php200). I’m not sure if it was worth the $5, but I was sure it always brought a piece of me back home. I remember the Thai restaurant in front of my cousin’s unit, they sell the best soft shell crabs ever (I know I’m allergic, but YOLO). At Fairfield, I was introduced to K-Mart, Target, Woolworths, and Aldi. My first ever Sydney-summer and autumn was at Fairfield.
It’s just a few stations away from Fairfield, and my first memory of Liverpool wasn’t that good. I was having severe nausea and chest pains, so my best friend brought me to Liverpool Hospital. I was sent to the ER and I was given a doze of medicine for my apparently fast-beating pulse. I was diagnosed with tachycardia. My heart tests went well, all clear, except for another finding on my x-ray result. It always happens. They will check you for something, but they will find something else. I felt fine after a couple of months and my best friend and I changed the not-so-good memories to better ones, like shopping for baking ingredients at Liverpool Westfield. Liverpool is exactly the midpoint from where we both live. We used to take the same train line from school and from other places, and I believe that’s how we got really close… because we used to live close to each other.
My first ever job in Sydney was at Villawood. It was just about 20 minutes from Fairfield. I used to work as a kitchenhand/chef at a small cafe. I was underpaid then. I didn’t know how much my skills were worth that time. I was a newbie in Sydney. I looked for another part-time job so I can save up for my needs and I found a cleaning job at a huge logistics office somewhere near Villawood. I was a kitchen hand in the morning, and cleaner at night. That’s how I used to roll. Back in the Philippines, I have never ever done so much hard work. It was a very humbling experience for me. Also, that’s when I realized that cleaners are well-paid in this side of the world. Hmmm…
After 6 months of living in Fairfield, I transferred to another suburb. This was where all the growing-up and “adulting” started. I started to be independent, no more free-loading for me. It was one train station away from Fairfield. It was an old house with three rooms and I was offered one of the rooms which I rented for $150 a week. I left my two jobs and started working as a Sales Agent. Most of my emotional distress started in Canley Vale for so many reasons. I had to walk about half an hour to reach the train station, or a 10-minute bus ride, if I would be on time for the bus. It didn’t have a dryer, so I had to sun-dry my clothes. It was winter that time, so I deeply relied on Accuweather for sunshine. Hahaha. The house was entirely made of wood, and the floor panels were wood as well. It was cold, especially at night when temperatures would drop to 5 degrees. I wasn’t allowed to use the heater because it would spike up the electricity bill. I used to live with my 45-year old landlady. We did get along some times, but most of the times, it was a love-hate relationship. Sometimes, she would yell at me for no apparent reason, just because she wasn’t in the mood. It was tiring to be coming home after a long day and weighing out the vibes as you open the door. She did give me A LOT of dresses from London and Paris though, which she thought would fit her, but obviously didn’t. She was a flight attendant for British Airways, and she used to shop for herself without fitting them. She always got the wrong sizes, so the dresses ended up in my closet. Hahaha.
Most of my happy memories in Sydney happened in Ryde, along with Meadowbank and Eastwood. This was where I met the most awesome people from school. We used to take the bus together to the train station from Ryde campus. We would stop by at Eastwood to grab something for dinner after our 6 PM Barista classes. Most of our pastry classes were held in Meadowbank campus where the train station is just 2 minutes away from school. I felt so privileged having to study at Ryde. We shared campus with Le Cordon Bleu Sydney, Sydney Coffee Academy, as well as The Australian Patisserie Academy. The campus had a lounge, billiards table, state-of-the-art entertainment, and free drinks for members of the student association. I loved Ryde. (I MISS RYDE CAMPUS TO BE HONEST.) LOL.
IKEA. IKEA. IKEA. Meatballs. IKEA. Oliveto, the Italian Fine Dining place by the lake that I used to work for is at Rhodes. I used to ride the train for half an hour from my place going to work. Best part is, it’s in front of IKEA. So whenever I wanted to eat IKEA Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes with Raspberry Jam, I would just literally cross the road and pop at Rhodes Shopping Centre. It would be a Sunday most of the time, as my work schedule is always until 10 PM on weekdays. I remember shopping for scented candles and aprons, without having to think about how much it would cost me. Rhodes is just a 5-minute ride from Meadowbank Campus. There were times when I would spend my 1 hour off from work and I would take the train to school just because they are literally beside each other… and then I would come back to work.
Almost all train lines pass by Strathfield, so when I meet-up with my friends, it’s almost always Strathfield Station. This place was the witness of how exhausted I was after evening shifts. It was where I waited for trains going home. It was where I spent time chatting about random stuff with my BFF while waiting for the T2 line train. If I would film my entire years in Sydney, most train rides would be set in Strathfield. Oh, I had the best Vermicelli Salad with Spring Rolls at Strathfield Shopping Centre.
(To be continued… Let’s hope I find the time to write the last part. Hahahaha.)