In this column, Jessie shares as much as she can about things that have happened and things she has done in the last two years that she’s been living in Sydney. The series will be made up of many snippets of memories, feelings and dialogue—a collage-like window into her Syd-ways existence
I got back to Sydney. I messaged my brother who had been away in Germany for five years and asked why he hadn’t come back to Australia. He said that being nice doesn’t just mean saying nice things. He said it’s the same in most English-speaking countries. He also said it’s not just that, but also that drinking culture in Oz sucks.
Uber Eats was launched. I referred lots of people. I made sure I went outside to collect the food so the delivery guy didn’t ring the doorbell.
I asked my parents to come to Sydney for Christmas. They said they would.
My brother, now in Norway, told me he had heard that our parents were coming to Sydney. He said he had booked a surprise flight back to Melbourne on Christmas Eve and asked if they had booked accommodation yet. I said they had but they hadn’t. I felt okay lying because he was happier than I was. Even if he were made less happy by having to come to Sydney rather than Melbourne then he would still be happier and I would be happier too so the lie was fine I think.
When friends asked me how Sydney was going, I told them it was a bit like St Kilda, that all the old people were really cool and the young people were a bit ugh. Then I told them about the time the delivery guy brought two serves of duck curry instead of one because when I told that story I always told it excitedly and I hoped people would think I was excited about more than just the duck curry.
My Dutch friend Laura taught me a Dutch expression on a Skype call: ‘Met aardige mensen dempen we de gracht’. It means, ‘we use nice people to block the canals’. She also taught me a German expression ‘Nett ist der kleine Bruder von Scheiße’ – ‘nice is the little brother of shit’. I smiled and laughed. I liked these expressions. I found ways to work them into conversations and when I did other people smiled and laughed. I liked that too.
There was a student I taught called Mauricio. He touched me a lot. Once he noticed that I had a rash between my thumb and my index finger. It looked like a cluster of pimples. He touched that too.
My mother said that accommodation at Christmas was just too expensive in Sydney – they would buy me a flight to Melbourne instead. I cried. I knew my crying would make her change her mind about not coming to Sydney and I felt bad about that, but feeling bad also helped make the crying even easier. And louder.
She called me back the next day. They would come to Sydney for Christmas. She asked me if I wanted her to bring my bike. Answer: No: too many hills here.
I had to get an extension for my university assessments because I kept crying about things and sometimes just crying. I liked it better when I was just crying because it felt like there was nothing I could do. When I was crying about other things it felt like I could try and do something and I would try and do it, but it wouldn’t work and then I’d go back to crying again.
I told my lecturer I was crying all the time and she said I had to go to the doctor and tell the doctor I was crying all the time and then go to Disability Services and tell them I was crying all the time and give them a certificate from the doctor that said I was crying all the time. I did that and then everyone knew I was crying all the time so they gave me an extension.
Sometimes it was a relief to cry all the time. It meant I didn’t have to try anything and risk crying. I always drowned in the first cry. Then I just got used to not being able to breathe.
My sublet ended and Alexis from the old sublet helped me drive my stuff to my new sublet. It was an apartment in Dulwich Hill – the floors were tiled and the walls were white. She helped me carry my books and clothes up the stairs and told me she’d ‘see me around’ so I assumed she wouldn’t.
I saw the two girls who lived in that house twice. I didn’t use the kitchen and I don’t remember their names.
Therw was a Nutella café nearby and it (the thickshake) wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.
I went to the university counselor and she said she couldn’t help me because it sounded like I had been depressed for a long time and university services only helped people who had not been depressed for a long time and looked like they would stop being depressed soon.
There is a pub called Maloney’s on the corner of Pitt Street and Bathurst Street. The jugs there are eight dollars. (Eight dollars!) On Friday nights it’s full of English Language students and work boots in backpacks and backpackers and cumbia music. On Saturday nights it’s empty and you can see all the stains on the carpet and there are no security guards there to check IDs and footwear. I went to Maloney’s every second Friday because we were allowed to have class there every second Friday for conversation practice. My students said things when we got there like, ‘Have you got any friends that look like you?’ and this made me smile.
One Friday I thought I would wear a crop top to class because I think my waist is my best feature. One student raised his eyebrows. One student stared at my stomach for the lesson and one student said ‘Teacher’ and kept his mouth open wide after he’d said it. I didn’t smile at all.
Jessie Perrin is a writer currently based in Sydney. Her work has been heard on FBi Radio and has appeared in publications including Scum Magazine, Ibis House, Lor Journal and Voiceworks.