Misc

Letter to my hometown: To Sydney

Standard Issue writers are penning a letter to their hometown. Brydie Lee-Kennedy sends a confessional note to Sydney.

Illustration by Jemima Williams.

Dear Sydney,

Long time between drinks, hey? And by drinks, I mean cheap rosé consumed on the edge of my parents’ pool at sunset, our feet dangling in the water, the sky overhead the same colour as the liquid in our cups, the air still warm enough for us to avoid the indoors for hours to come…

So, how are you doing?

I’m not doing so great, just now. I’m coming to the tail-end of my third winter in England – heads up, London winters don’t end in February; March here is as grey as my Marches used to be sparkly – and my homesickness has kicked in again, right on cue.

“When That Guy I brought with me wandered about in a T-shirt by the harbour on his first day and described Sydney autumn as a ‘Swiftian satire of English weather’, I couldn’t disagree.”

When I came home to visit this time last year after two years away, all prodigal and paler than I’d ever been, I immediately remembered all of your radiant qualities that I’d forced myself to forget. I flew in over that huge expanse of blue and it hit me like one of your sky-splitting lightning cracks during a summer storm – “Oh god, I love this place.”

When That Guy I brought with me wandered about in a T-shirt by the harbour on his first day and described Sydney autumn as a “Swiftian satire of English weather”, I couldn’t disagree. You are ridiculous.

Oh yeah, about That Guy. This is kind of why I’m writing, Sydney. We Need To Talk. Because I think I’m going to be away for quite a bit longer.

I know when I first left you three years ago, it seemed temporary. I remember saying I’d come back for Christmas and then… well, turns out comedy and writing don’t pay as well as my optimism had led me to believe so I didn’t quite make it.

And I didn’t quite make it the next Christmas, either. Life started to happen, over here, far far away from where life used to happen. A different kind of life that required my full focus and energy. I neglected you, Sydney. I started to call London “home”.

So seeing you again, last year, was a real shock. You looked all different but the same; filled with the same people, mostly, and the same beaches, and the same ludicrously large cars, and the same house containing my excellent parents, and the pets I can’t have in London.

You also had some new people who’d slotted into the spaces left in my friendship groups when so many of us left, and there were even more bars with courtyards out the back and cafes with that coffee and that sourdough toast and mangoes like I could never find in London, and avocadoes that were the right shade of green.

You had the people who had loved me even after I ran away and who welcomed me back and gave me all their time for as long as I was there.

You also had the people who had abandoned me in the worst period of my life, and the same trains that never come on time, and the government who trades in bigotry and hate, and the same buses with vinyl seating that sticks to my sweaty thighs, and the same lack of That Guy, once he headed back to London after 10 days.

But I’m gone again, Sydney, so let’s not dwell on any of that. We’ve known each other for my whole life; there were bound to be some hiccups.

“I remembered that I liked running if I could do it with the sea to my left and finish it with a dunk in salt water.”

Instead, I’ll tell you what I miss the most. I know I started this by talking about the weather, which is very dull of me and I’m sorry but, Sydney, my love… I want to go outside.

I’ve been happy in London (I know you might not want to hear that right now but it’s true) – yet I’ve always had a restlessness of spirit that I couldn’t quite identify.

And then I came back to you and I could go to Bronte and see the horizon every day. I remembered that I liked running if I could do it with the sea to my left and finish it with a dunk in salt water. My freckles came back after five days and That Guy commented he didn’t even know I had freckles. I’d kept them hidden, like a secret identity during my two years away and then they sprang back out and I was myself again.

Sydney, you are my paradise lost and then regained. I don’t live in you anymore but pieces of me do. Two of those pieces are my toddler niece and my baby nephew and so I promise – and I really mean it this time – I’ll try to be back for Christmas. Put the rosé in the fridge.

Forever yours,
Brydie

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Written by Brydie Lee-Kennedy

Brydie is a Sydney-raised, London-based comedian and writer who has never met a Buffy reference she couldn't shoehorn into conversation. @BrydieLK