Jet Silver wanted to know my favourite place in Australia. I’ve been struggling with this one. It’s a vast and beautiful country, full of unforgettable people and landscapes that will challenge your mind.
I love Sydney, my city, fiercely. I love how ridiculous people are about defending their own little slice of town, and I love that it’s so expansive that I’ll never visit all of it. It’s a bit like Fantasia in The Neverending Story like that. I love standing on the beaches and feeling my spirit rise and stretch to fill the space between sea and sky. Hey, I even love walking down George St first thing in the morning after it has suffered the upchuck of many a drunken reveller. It’s a reminder that other people are enjoying this city, too.
I love drives through country towns and everyone instantly knowing we’re tourists from the city. I love that the Blue Mountains really do shine blue in the sun. I love that I don’t understand everyone’s accent. I love my memory of my first time crossing the border from NSW to Victoria, and looking out at that beautiful countryside just weeks before it all burned down.
And I loved the next time I went to Victoria, a year and a half later. Melbourne, to sort of answer your question, Jet, is my favourite city. I was waiting for a tram on my favourite street with a friend one night when some white guy started frenetically yelling furious racist abuse at another man driving past. Then he stopped, turned to my friend and politely asked her, ‘Do you have the time? Sorry, I’m not usually racist, but that guy…’ We pissed off to the next stop pretty fast, before the guy could peer through the gloom to that woman hiding under layers of clothing and behind her friend, and realise she was one of them. It wasn’t the first time, of course, but I’d been feeling so safe and happy and, in a way I never am in Sydney, off my guard. So that’s my memory of my favourite street in my favourite city in all the world tainted.
I don’t know how to answer your question, Jet, because it’s a question with so many potential answers in such an amazing land, and it’s also a question of which place is the least painful. I don’t feel right being on stolen land. I don’t feel right being on land where many white people would like me to piss off back where I came from, and then turn around and politely ask my white friends for the time. I ultimately don’t feel safe or comfortable here, but I don’t know what it is to live anywhere else. I have favourite moments rather than favourite places, really, and my best ones are of standing on those beaches. I like to stand on borders, where the land crumbles, with my feet planted here and my heart facing the possibility of everywhere.