Last week I did something I normally don’t do. I entered a competition. Then something happened that’s never happened before: I won.
So today, on my 42nd birthday, I went in to claim my prize: a $150 laser facial at the Woolloomooloo Laser Lounge.
For something I’d never thought of doing, I am impressed and will return. The service (and its marketing) has left me convinced I need more. The woman who treated me, a gorgeous German about my age but with fantastic skin, sat with me through the 20 minute treatment and we talked politics and feminism, something she had studied in her 30’s. It was such a treat. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.
After, I stepped out on to Crown Street and into a glorious Sydney day. The sky today was a perfect blue and reminded me why I chose Sydney over Melbourne all those years ago. Sure Melbourne, I can see why you are the most liveable city five years in a row, and I still miss you so, but wow these Sydney days…
Turns out I parked right in front of a building I used to live in on Crown St when I was 18, maybe 19. You know the apartments opposite City Gym? I think it used to be the home to the Hard Rock Café when I lived there. I was an apprentice hairdresser then working for Garland & Garland. Mr and Mrs G had the “it” salon of the time, right next door to The Albury Hotel on Oxford Street. Its young staffers, me, my bestie of the time, Dan Dyer, and a bunch of other young up and comings thought we were pretty cool to be working in Australia’s best salon. And we were of course.
I decided to put some more coins in the meter and walk around to an old haunt, The Arch on Stanley Street, and give myself the treat of sitting alone with my thoughts and not alerting anyone of my whereabouts.
I walked in to be greeted by the face that belongs to The Arch. His name was lost on me but nothing else – his black hair, bushy eyebrows and gold chain around his neck sat as they had always done. He didn’t recognise me in the same way even though he’s served me many times over the years. I headed toward the focaccia bar at the back next to the lane and found it was gone. There was a bathroom in its place. No more focaccia bar, or gelato, and where’s the pool table? Some things do change.
Out the front of The Arch a photographer was taking shots of another familiar face I’ve seen on and off forever in my Sydney life. I once saw him three times over the course of a day, in very different locations, so I had to say hello. I told him I felt like I should say something. We chatted and he didn’t give himself away, only that he walked a lot and that was probably why I’d seen him around. Funny how people can be part of your life for such a long time without knowing them.
By the last bite of my rosetta roll The Arch had become super busy. I had the room to myself when I arrived but lunch time had called on the iconic spot and suddenly I was not so alone. Despite feeling a little too close to my table neighbour I ordered another coffee and a horseshoe chocolate dipped biscuit. So guilt free I’m telling you about it now. My parking ticket had an hour left anyway.
I’m glad I stayed. I got to chat with Dom! Dominic! That’s his name! And he didn’t remember me but he remembers The Arch I do and we talked about the missing focaccia bar and gelato, and the pool table, and how he has been there for 38 years. He also told me about photographer and author, Brett Hilder who is being photographed outside.
Brett Hilder! That’s his name. Along with being an extraordinary photographer he has quite a personal story about Eritrea, as do I, for another time.
As my second coffee disappeared, a friend text me a birthday wish and I gave away my location. Time to go and collect my babies from school.
My skin was glowing and my inside was day-dreamy happy. Just as I have been at that very location many times in my life.
Happy birthday to me.
I am 42.