After two months in Australia, my friends and I are (finally) not homeless. One would think that finding a five-bedroom house in a giant city wouldn’t be the ordeal that it was, but seeing as we’re a bunch of young vagabonds with no references and very little money between us, we got pretty lucky.
We’re now living in West Footscray, which is – apparently – not the nicest part of town. When I tell Australians that I’m living in West Footscray, I get one of two reactions:
- They’ll smile politely and say “Oh, that’s… nice,” and then say something pleasant about how little time it’ll take me to get downtown. You can see through this charade that they are secretly thinking oh you dumb, naive foreigner. You’re going to get shanked walking home from the train station.
- They’ll arch their eyebrows and say “That place is really fucking shifty,” and suggest purchasing Mace. I like these straightforward people.
It really hasn’t been bad, though, in our two weeks here. Drawbacks? We are surrounded by mechanical dinosaurs and car dealerships rather than trendy cafés and shops. Benefits? Cheap rent, living with four good friends, and having a magnificent bike trail that gets me into town in half an hour. I’ve also realized (both in Vancouver and here) that a house is made up more by its roommates, visitors, and couchsurfers than it is by its surroundings. And living with a group of young twentysomethings has its fun adventures, outlined below.
1. Thrift shopping.
Since we were all broke from purchasing tickets to Australia and driving up and down its east coast, we had to decorate our home as cheaply as possible. This meant a lot of driving adventures to pick free things up from people’s lawns and a lot of thrift store visits. Our best (free) object to date has been this scary little man, who the guys picked up from our landlord for free. I’m not sure why anyone would make this statue, or why anyone would buy it, but somehow it’s now living in our house.
The game goes like this: you can’t be caught moving the scary man. You will be surprised by him in unusual locations (such as propped up against your window, under your covers, in your closet, or behind the shower curtain). If you’re like me, you’ll probably scream. You then get to move the scary man to another location to surprise your roommates. However, if you’re caught moving the scary man, you have to sleep with him in your room that night. Fuck that.
2. Overhearing conversations.
Two mornings ago, I woke up to the sound of Niclas’ German voice talking to an unfamiliar Aussie accent by the front door (which is right next to my room). My half-asleep brain decided that this man must be the electrician, though I’m not sure why as we have absolutely no need for an electrician right now. This is what I heard:
Electrician: They were in Paradise, but they ruined it with knowledge.
Niclas: But people are naturally curious. Knowledge is a good thing.
E: Yes, but think of it this way. Your parents love you, and they tell you not to do something because they know it will hurt you. Would you disobey your parents, who you love?
N: As a kid? Probably.
E: But God didn’t want Adam and Eve to give in to temptation. He loved them too much, and he told them not to.
N: Well then why would he even put the apple tree there in the first place? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense.
At some point, I realized that this was not the electrician, and that Niclas was having his first encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness. We have now placed the scary man by the front door to discourage any more religious wake-up calls.
Public transit is expensive here, but I’ve invested in a $200 bike and I’m loving the fact that I can bike everywhere. There’s a bike trail that runs along Princes Highway into town, and it’s such smooth sailing that it takes less time than the outlandlishly pricey train. Win-win.