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 existenc
My friend Laura visited Australia. We went to Melbourne first and she wanted to go to the beach so we went to St Kilda Beach. Google Maps said it was the easiest one to get to by public transport. Some people came up to us with pamphlets for a party and asked us where I was from. I told them I was from here and they told me that no-one here was from here. I told them Laura was visiting from the Netherlands –so they talked to Laura.
My family came to Sydney for Christmas. My brother surprised my parents and flew there all the way from Norway. My mum cried when she saw him. My dad looked at him like he wanted to smile but didn’t want to want to smile. When we had lunch together, everyone was smiling –even my dad. There are photos.
Laura, my brother and I went to a bar. I said I’d go to the bar and get the drinks. Laura said she wanted an espresso martini. I got her an espresso martini but she didn’t give me any money for it. I hadn’t meant ‘get’ like that.
I told Laura the next day that I hadn’t meant ‘get’ like that. I made it a kind of joke, like ‘I can afford to get you a beer here and there but not an espresso martini here and there’. It wasn’t really a joke though. I was $4000 in debt. Laura said it was fine but when I say things are fine, I usually mean things aren’t fine at all and I thought she might mean ‘fine’ like that.
I told my mum when my brother was around that I was worried things weren’t fine with Laura and I, but that it also wasn’t fair that it shouldn’t be fine because usually I was pretty generous when I could afford to be. But also, maybe I wasn’t generous enough. Was I generous enough?
On Boxing Day we went to the Blue Mountains and we had a picnic. My Dad yelled ‘Jesus Jessie’ at me for leaving the boot open when we drove off and I yelled ‘I’m sorry’. My brother told Laura later that he was worried that my Dad and I would start fighting. He said my dad and I did that a lot when I was a kid. He said to her that he thought, ‘Oh Christ, not this again’.
I knew that when my brother was younger he had thought I fought a lot with my dad, but I didn’t think he still thought that. I still wish he hadn’t said that to Laura. Or thought it.
At the Blue Mountains, we went to another bar and my brother offered to buy me a beer. He joked to Laura that she should get me at least three beers for that espresso martini. Laura said later that my brother had talked to her and said that she should know that when people say things are fine, I didn’t actually think they were. I didn’t know my brother knew this about me.
Mum and Dad drove back down to Melbourne. Mum said it was the best Christmas she’d had and hugged me for a long time and kept squeezing me tightly and then letting me go a bit and then squeezing me tightly again. Dad told me not to be stupid and patted my back (hard) a few times when he hugged me.
I hung out with my brother at his friend’s house in Surry Hills that he was staying at. He said he hoped that Sydney would get better. I nodded and said ‘yeah’ and I didn’t look at him and he didn’t look at me. We hugged and he went back to Norway. I don’t think he was less happy that he had come to Sydney, maybe just a bit poorer. But I was still a lot poorer.
Laura and I ended up in Port Douglas. We tried to get a tattoo together but all the tattoo shops were closed. She said she would still get it in Amsterdam and I said I would get it in Sydney. She said I wouldn’t and I said again that I would. Now, she has it but I don’t.
I don’t have it yet.
When I got on my plane back to Sydney and left her to go back to Amsterdam I cried. She was the one who had left the boot open when we drove out of Sydney but I haven’t said anything until now.
In the living area of the new house there was a desk, a piano and a computer. In my room, there was a wooden board with hooks to nail into the wall that I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to nail into the wall. I didn’t have friends in Sydney like my brother had so I slept on the floor for two nights before I bought a bed.
I bought a desk for my room that was too big to get up the stairs. All my new housemates tried to help me get it up the stairs. It reminded me of the episode in Friends where they try to get a couch that is too big for the stairs up the stairs and Ross says ‘pivot’ a lot. I laughed a lot but we didn’t get the desk up the stairs. My housemates let me have the smaller desk in the living room downstairs instead.
I set up a Tinder account. I made all my photos pictures of me in profile, and it looks like I’m laughing in them but I can’t remember if I was actually laughing in any of them except in the one that Laura took in Port Douglas. I think I was just posing laughing because laughing makes my jaw bones more angular.
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.