Title: Somewhere to catch some sleep
By: Joel Calizaya
Next year it’ll be twenty years since I first set foot in Australia. I use the expression ‘set foot’ not without jest, for I’ve been checking the brochure for the Sydney Festival of next year, and it has just reminded me that next year it’ll be the 50th anniversary of the man’s landing on the Moon. The first time they ‘set foot’ on it.
But let’s go back to Australia, and myself as a teenager. I would find out about my first address (Lucy St, Merrylands West) weeks before I left Peru, in a long email my father sent to myself and my two brothers explaining how things were going to be in the last two weeks of our time in Peru and in our first days in Australia. I still remember that the body of the email was the same for us three brothers.
I’d be lying if I said that there was no expectancy in me as we drove from Westfield Parramatta (where we had stopped for a much needed bite) to our then-unknown address in Merrylands West. This was going to be the first time we were going to live in a detached house. Each one of us were going to have our own room, and we were going to have a front and a backyard! (Back then, I simply didn’t know how labor-intensive was it to have a front and a backyard.) To my great surprise, I was given the biggest room out of all of us three, and the internet connection was going to be in my place. (Now that I read these lines I realise that my brothers might have thought of it as unfair favouritism, one of the reasons why the next times we moved I went out of my way to not have the largest room in the house.)
Every one of the friends I would made at school would remark on how large my room was in Lucy St. After the first couple of days, I picked up on the fact that it had being used as an oﬃce by the previous tenant. What gave it away? A small wooden sign that continued to be attached to the outside of the door for the totality of the eight years that we continued to live in Merrylands West. It had had a sticker forcefully removed from it with most probably the trading hours of the person who had previously lived there.
Our second house was located in the suburb of Greystanes. Again, it was situated at the intersection point of an inverted T.
It was a much newer house. The kitchen cupboards seemed to have been put in place in the 80s. The only thing that annoyed me a great deal at the beginning was the spongey rug in my room which we were later told to have been the room of the landlady’s two infant sons (way back when).
My room continued to face the outside street. This time, it felt like the people walking by were closer to my window. My room’s door never closed too well, so I was required to put my laundry basket in front of it when I wanted to close it properly.
Just like I have done them in the past in Lucy St, now it was time for my brother Daniel to have his parties at Oldfield St. Now I was the one locked in his room while a complete group of strangers took over the lounge room and the backyard.
Back when I lived in Lucy St, the T-way was a good transport solution between my place and Parramatta. I could leave very early or very late or even on a Sunday afternoon and have the Tway to rely on to communicate me to Parra or to catch the train there to go further to the east (like all those years when I attended the University of New South Wales). Unfortunately, when I was at Greystanes I could rely on private buses, which meant that on Saturday or Sunday after roughly 6pm there were very few buses to catch in the area. Initially, I would bother my brothers to pick me up from Merrylands station but I could see that this couldn’t last for long. So instead I would catch the T-way itself that would leave me some fifteen blocks from my house (very close to the Canal Reserve). After that long trek I would come back with very sore legs, but at least I wasn’t bothering anyone.
Before I forget, there were palm trees both at the front and at the back of the house in Oldfield St. At least one dead palm leaf would fall on the ground once a week, making us (and my father, who helped us a lot with this) work in a very continuous basis splitting the long leaves in pieces that would fit in the rubbish bin.
Our third house here (the one us three brothers currently live in) is situated in Austin Crescent, Constitution Hill. We aren’t too far away from the endless drone of Cumberland Highway and from Old Windsor Rd. The upside of that is that we don’t have to spend too long in backstreets when we want to travel to a major road of Western Sydney.
Once again, my room has a carpet, though this time is not a spongey one like the one I had in Oldfield St. There are some colour stains in the carpet, specially near the place where I’ve put my bed, which makes me think that this was the room of some five-year-old in the past.
The front yard is slightly uphill, making it diﬃcult to work with the lawnmower. Sometimes, from my dining room window in the middle of the night, I’ve seen as far as Parramatta and beyond on a clear night, identifying a couple of well-known buildings all the way from here.
This time, Daniel has the largest room in the house. Gerardo has told me that, unfortunately, when he is in the garage the wireless signal fifty percent of the time doesnâ€™t identify his computer. So after a couple of months of working there with his drawings, he decided to use most of our dining table as his drawings station.
The kitchen is an electric one, which prompts us to be a bit more careful with dishes and pots alike. Thankfully the stove has a signal that tells you when the plates are still hot, otherwise many an accident would have already happened at our place.
We receive mail, just like in our previous places, from previous tenants. Once, my mother was so worried about a council notice to one of these previous tenants, that she made me go to the post oďŹƒce and mail it back to him to avoid said person getting into further trouble.
An article about all the houses I lived in, with my family, in Australia