“That was weird,” Heidi remarked as we walked on after talking to her student for a few minutes. He was in the Red Centre for his school holiday, just like Heidi.
“You were just saying you could bump into Mr. Right around the next corner and then BAM, there was Griffin.”
“Next time I’ll specify that when I mention dating younger men I don’t mean teenagers.”
At the airport, we ran into Griffin again with his mum, who was wearing faux eyelashes. Heidi chatted with them while I hit the gift shops to make sure I wasn’t leaving behind some important souvenir.
Then it was all aboard Flight QF791 to Sydney. I couldn’t get the scene from the movie Rainman out of my head. Dustin Hoffman’s character says to Tom Cruise, “Quantas never crashed.” I couldn’t help it, I had to say it aloud to get it out of my head. Heidi smiled indulgently.
Heidi queued up a podcast for me on her Aussie phone (as opposed to her UK phone). I had never listened to a podcast before. I know they’re extremely popular and that the cell phone zombies all around me with earbuds in are probably listening to them. Heidi, who spends so much time commuting, says they’re a God send.
Lost in Larrimah is a about a town of 11 people in the Outback from which one person goes missing. It was how I learned the phrase “hooning around,” (hanging out) one of my favorite Aussie slang terms.
Sydney was cold and rainy. The train was packed; a couple from Melbourne who were touristing in Sydney struck up a conversation with Heidi while I pretended to be extremely interested in a mobile phone advert on the wall to their left.
When Heidi mentioned we’d be driving to Melbourne in a few days, they started rattling off sights we had to see. “Aww, you have to go see the blah blah blah!” and “You have to go see the blipplity doo doo.” They even began providing web site addresses and street directions.
Am I the only one who finds this irritating? Heidi was nodding pleasantly but noncommittally. Sometimes I think I need to go live in a mountaintop cave with no human contact for a couple months to reset my tolerance for strangers.
I had topped up my Oyster card with $35, but it was minus $2 by the time we reached MacMahon’s Point. Now it was Heidi’s turn to be irritated. “I know Sydney transport is stupidly expensive, but that just can’t be right! I’ll call them tomorrow and fight it. There has to be some mistake.” She did call them eventually and spent forever being transferred and kept on hold, but got the money back. Bravo, Heidi!
Auntie Margaret had left a bottle of cab sav for us and we partook of it while Heidi made spag bol. Then we watched the journos on ABC and went to bed.
In the morning Heidi had to do some very thoughtful packing—she would be here, in Blayney, then Melbourne, then Canberra and possibly back in Blayney, then back to Sydney but she wasn’t sure where she’d be staying for Sydney Part II and she needed clothes for work, home, and traveling—all in the smallest bag that was not a carry on.
“I’ll go for a walk to get out of your hair,” I said, and Heidi showed me something called Wendy’s Secret Garden in nearby Lavender Bay. She handed me her Aussie phone with the place mapped on it. “It’s a real jumble around here,” she said. “It looks close but it’s easy to get lost.”
And I did get delightfully lost in the maze of alleys and dead-end streets below Auntie Margaret’s flat. If I hadn’t, I would have missed views like this.
There were lots of renos and new construction going on, adding modern houses into gaps between older ones.
I passed a construction worker smoking a hookah.
The garden had been founded by Wendy Whiteley after her husband Brett, a famous artist, died. It was all maintained by local volunteers.
Had I inhaled? No, the garden really was magical.