Two Homes

“So you’ve been stuck up here since June?”, a random bloke sitting on the bench outside the Station Hotel said to me earlier this week. “Not so much STUCK”, I replied, adding that “I’ve really been enjoying my time in Lismore”. After we exchanged a few pleasantries, I continued on my way home to Pat and Jack’s place.

“That sounds like Jodie’s dad”, Karran said to me last night. “A big guy, with a beard?” she asked, continuing with the description that eventually led me to believe it was in fact Jodie’s dad, who I think I met briefly at Nancy’s funeral.

Lismore is like that. 

“Have you gotten used to people saying hello to you in the street?”, a friend’s mother asked, as we had lunch on Friday. “I was always prepared for that”, I told her,adding that  “I wasn’t expecting the randomness of it all. There have been people I don’t know who’ve either said hello, or have wanted to have a conversation”.

It’s been nice.

Though I hadn’t planned to stay in Lismore for three and a half months, I’m glad I have. It kind feels like a “test drive” for retirement, I’ve concluded. There are, of course, things about Sydney I would miss by retiring in Lismore. But mostly, I think the positives will outweigh the negatives.

With the end of the lockdown in Lismore, and with the end of the lockdown in Sydney “within sight”, I decided I would take my chances and return home.

“This is my window, or else I might still be here at Christmas time”, I explained to Pat and Jack. With all of the news about COVID cases and COVID deaths in Sydney, they’re concerned. I’ve promised them to look after myself!

Flying from Ballina to Sydney

There weren’t a lot of people at Ballina Airport today. Though normally all of the airlines would have several flights each day, both Qantas and Virgin are down to about five flights each week, and I think Jetstar and REX have stopped completely. That’s why I caught an early flight today (9.25am), though I normally prefer afternoon flights.

“I used to work at Channel 7 for a while”, I heard one person say to another as we waited in the queue. The phrase immediately caught my ear, as the current lockdown in Byron Bay appears to be related to film-crew members who have relocated from Sydney for “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”. They had also been on a Virgin Flight, and people on that flight from Sydney to Ballina were asked to get tested. Finger’s crossed this flight won’t be a repeat of that one.

The difference between Sydney when I left and arriving back now was immediately evident. There was hardly anyone at the airport, and almost all of the shops were closed. I walked out and got the first taxi in the row.

In Surry Hills, most of the shops are closed, except those providing food.

As they did last year, the local Italian restaurant has converted itself into an Italian supermarket.

Though everyone in the city today seemed to be wearing face-masks, that wasn’t the case in Surry Hills. I’d estimate it was down to about fifty percent on the streets.

After fourteen weeks away, I was half expecting it to be a bit of a “disaster” at home. There were a couple of dead bananas and carrots in the fridge, and there were a few jars with mould. All of my plants are dead, except two. I needed to reset a few devices with password changes. Thankfully the house hasn’t been taken over cockroaches or mice!

But most of all, lovely to see Biscuit (our collectively owned pussycat in our apartment block) is safe and sound.

Author: James O'Brien

Born / Currently : Lismore / Widjabul Wia-Bal - Bundjalung Live : Sydney / Gadigal - Eora Also : Brisbane, Bourke, Renmark, Wagga, Perth Pronouns : He/him/his.

4 thoughts

  1. It must be nice to home. Well, I would be rather pleased after living with other people, no matter how nice, for such a time.

    1. Yes Andrew. Nice in lots of ways, including the nudie run between the bathroom and the bedroom. Last night, I got a cautionary message from my neighbours, “Hi James, the lights are on, just wanting to make sure you’re home”. When I knocked on their door they were so lovely saying, “We just wanted to make sure it was you, and you’re okay”. Sweet.

  2. James, have loved your “Tales of Lismore” travelogue/“adventures back home.” I’m certain I am not alone in appreciating how you showed lovely Lismore for all to see it with either new or fresh eyes. So enjoyed reading your posts. Great to see you using your broadcasting skills as a storyteller, communicator (and photographer). But also know how good it feels to sleep back in your own bed again. Thx to technology, I’m grateful we got to work together again, even LONG LONG distance from Lismore and Los Angeles!
    Praying for this plague to be GONE, hopefully, soon, we can resume our lives in the “new normal.”

    1. Thankyou Valerie. That’s such a lovely message. You’ve really warmed my heart, knowing my thoughts and feelings about Lismore have made it half way around the world. And yes, it’s wonderful we can have this professional relationship again, as well as the personal one. Sunday morning and I’m giving Macca a break this morning, listening to Ed Ayres on ABC Classic. Have just made some coffee and loving being home, but also loving the chance to re-connect with my family for an extended period at such an important time. I’ll write about that sometime soon.

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