Hello, Surfer’s Paradise. The coastline is beautiful. The sun reflects like starlight off the aquamarine water. I am so grateful for the fresh air and sunshine after the harrowing push and shove at SYD’s immigration, the transfer to the Domestic Terminal T2, and the flight on JetStar to the Gold Coast Airport (OOL) in Coolangatta. I’m standing on the balcony of my room at The Sea Temple in Surfer’s Paradise. The vertigo of the 38th floor and the view below me is intoxicating. Inside, the Sea Temple is brand-spanking new. Everything gleams. I love it. I want to move in.
Best of all, the doorbell rings and my friend Tina, who lives half-way around the world in Sydney, is standing on the doorstep. Tina and I met in Hong Kong as expatriates in our 20’s. Now, married and with an 11-year-old, Tina flew up to see me. We stare at each other. It is surreal. We dare not say how long it’s been since we last saw each other or it might dampen the impact of our happiness. I pull her into the room, set her bags down, and begin to show her the amenities as though I’m the concierge.
“Washer and Dryer!” I squeak. “Two bathrooms! You can have your own!”
It’s early in the day – too early to break open the wine. So we do the next best thing. We go to the beach. We take a taxi to Broadbeach. A blues festival is in progress, and we watch the musicians set up their gear. We walk to the beach where I gawk at the beautiful birds. A burst of green on the tree branches. Real twittering.
“Lorikeets,” Tina explains. “They can be extremely noisy.”
Ibis walk around the manicured lawn leading up to the beach, poking their extra-long beaks into garbage cans. Tina explains the birds are the equivalent of Angeleno squirrels or New York City pigeons. A nuisance, really.
There is no humidity. We walk and walk and walk and walk. We follow the beach north to Surfer’s Paradise. My pink patent BCBG sandals are breaking in quite nicely. I’m happy I packed well. I’m happy Tina is chatting away. She could read the phone book for all I care. I soak up her presence, the resonance of her syllables.
Playgrounds dot the seashore, barefoot ragtag children run past us, some bold enough to engage us in conversation. I wish my son Wolfgang and Tina’s son Rowan were among them.
I want to hurry back to the room, and try out my iPhone’s Skype app and hear Wolfgang and Mario’s voice. The time difference might even work. We head back to Sea Temple. Mario is online and voila my son is chatting to Tina. My world is complete.