I took a right instead of a left outside my friend’s apartment building in Auburn. I should have known better but it I had smoked weed for the first time in months and I was feeling really hazy. It was humid and overcast, post-apocalyptic even. I would have been walking the wrong direction for about five minutes before I realized I had gone the wrong way. The street I was on was interesting. It was lined with apartment buildings which were no taller than three stories high. Every couple of buildings I walked past had an unemployed Middle Eastern man sitting on the wall, staring into space. Some of them had prayer beads, some of them looked anxious but they all looked detached.
My soundtrack was Scritti Politti’s Cupid & Psyche 85. Probably not the most appropriate record for this environment but I like walking to it. I kept the track Flesh And Blood on repeat. It’s not my favourite song on the record but if anything on that album was going to represent the ambiance of this place it was that song.
At that moment I realized I was lost I turned back around and saw minarets. I knew I had to go towards the mosque but instead I was headed to Parramatta road. I stopped and looked down to find nothing but McDonalds litter. I was a lot more lost than I thought I was.
I kept walking. I walked past men who just seemed to be bumming around on the street but I didn’t see one woman. It’s not like this street provided a threatening atmosphere, quite the opposite. Everyone was chilled. Like a non-white version of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, just more clothes and less chicks. The weird thing about it was just the guys sitting on the street with nothing to do. What were they thinking about? Why don’t men just sit and think alone on the street in other places. Maybe I just don’t notice them normally because they aren’t wearing kaftans.
I turned back around to take another look at the minarets then I continued walking for another thirty seconds until I could smell oil. The sky was still grey and the air was still thick with humidity and pollution. I walked closer to the oil smell. It was a McDonalds, but this one smelt stronger than any other McDonalds I have ever encountered. For the sake of juxtaposition I turned to find the minarets again but they were nowhere to be seen. I was on Parramatta road.
The men in kaftans staring into space had gone. There were women eating soft serve cones. Cars were flying by and I had to figure out how to get home. I crossed Parramatta Road which was easy then walked down a bit and crossed Silverwater road which for some reason made me feel like Puff Daddy in the video for Come With Me getting shot out of a lift and turning into doves. I walked further and further up Parramatta Rd. I was nowhere near a train station and all I wanted was to get home. It was 4pm and I had only had three hours sleep since the night before last.
After a while I got into a cab. The cabbie was a talker. He had a thick Aussie-Italian accent. He asked me about my night and what I had been doing. I explained that a couple of after work drinks with a mate from work had turned into meeting this crazy Filipino girl and going back to my mates place in Auburn where we drank, smoked pot and listened to music while she may or may not have had a psychotic episode. The conversation then went on to depression.
The cabbie told me about his divorce and how he spent three years on anti-depressants after he and his wife separated. He told me about how he planned on killing himself. He said he would get drunk and find the steepest road possible and close his eyes and drive blindly down the road, into the ocean. He talked about friends of his who had killed themselves. Everyone he mentioned he spoke about as if I would know them too. There was ‘Frankie’ who hung himself while his family was at church and ‘Christina’ who gassed herself in her garage because her husband was abusive. These stories were horrific but it gave me some comfort that he trusted me enough to talk about these people like I knew them before their demise.
He kept talking about his philosophy. “All y’gotta do is be happy y’know? You gotta be strong on the inside y’know? Everyone is different, we all have different DNA so you just gotta be, fucken, your own person, y’know?”.
$53 later and we arrive at my house. My tip was pretty lean but I had no idea Auburn and Dulwich Hill were so far away from each other. We shake hands and he says to me “You just gotta be strong man, that’s all everyone’s gotta do – or you’re fucked”.
I got out, looked for the minarets. They were nowhere to be seen.