“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!
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.
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.
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!