Ohh I gotta get outta here …
Is what I thought as I lay on Zorba’s living room floor for the third week I was in Brisbane. The trip to New Zealand was fun and way too short. The Australian Immigration department was scary good at processing the visa application, and the day after I submitted the application I had been approved. After spending the weekend in New Zealand, capping off what ended up being a 4 1/2 day holiday, I flew back to Brisbane. I started working almost immediately after I got back, going to work on that Tuesday. Although I enjoyed living with Zorba and we had some great times, I needed my own space and especially a bed.
I prepared for a long search online and in newspapers for a flat. The word around Zorba’s apartment was that West End was a good suburb to set up camp. It was an eclectic, hippie-ish neighbourhood full of the best bars and restaurants in the city. I was certainly not going to live in Ipswich, the city about 40 km west of Brisbane where the Kobold office is located. Ipswich is known as the bogan (redneck) capital of Queensland and, as some would argue, Australia. Seventy to eighty percent of the 15 – 18 year old girls that wander around the city mall outside my building are pregnant, and 90% of the teenage guys have mullets. All of them spend the daylight hours sitting on the grass and benches of the street mall smoking and polluting the gene pool. I like to think of Ipswich as Darwin’s Blind Spot.
But I digress. I centered my search in West End, but also included places like the CBD, Toowong (where Brad lives), and East Brisbane. One place was perfect. I found it in the newspaper and when I called I found out the man advertising the room was also a software engineer. The apartment was in a high rise in the heart of the CBD, right on the river. Although I never got to see it – the guy was looking for someone to stay a little longer than just 5-6 months – I’m sure it was beautiful.
By the next weekend I had lined up a visit at one apartment in West End advertised by two girls that was within my budget and, most importantly, for which I actually received a response. There was another ad I responded to, an apartment in East Brisbane owned by a man who seemed alarmingly keen for me to come and visit.
On a Sunday evening a week after I re-returned from New Zealand, I jumped on a bus and headed to West End. I finally found the building, a new-looking large white complex right on the riverside. It was in a more industrial section of the suburb, but it didn’t seem at all unsafe or non-residential. The building was well-maintained, had good security and even a pool. I was already impressed.
Naomi and Beth buzzed me up to the flat and I spent the next 20 minutes chatting with them about myself and what I was expecting out of the apartment. They were both psychology students at the University of Queensland, Naomi in undergrad and Beth going for her doctorate. Beth was an avid home cook and baker and had loads of great kitchen gadgets. They asked me more than once to let them know if I was interested in the flat. I tried to make it as clear to them as I could, “Right now I’m living on the floor of my friend’s apartment, so I’m definitely interested and want to move in ASAP.”
I got back on the bus and was really anxious about getting that apartment. The view from the large back patio was beautiful, with CityCat ferries and private river enthusiasts drifting past. The patio faced west, so as the sun set the deep orange hues poured in through the wall-sized sliding door and windows. Even before the bus dropped me off in the city, no less than 15 minutes after I left the flat, I got a text from Beth. “Hey BJ, we decided that you’re our favorite prospective roommate, so if you still want the flat it’s yours.”
I moved in a couple days later, after submitting some paperwork to the building manager. Even though I was still sleeping on the floor (I hadn’t bought a bed yet), it was in my own room, in a beautiful apartment. Again, I lay awake staring up at the ceiling, thinking about how funny it was that things seem to work out. I had been in the city for such a short time and yet I was a week into my new work Visa, a week into my well-paying job, and I was already living in a riverside apartment with a view. In just a few short weeks I had built up a little life in a new city. And on top of all that I had even put a deposit down on a motorcycle.
Hm? Oh that’s right, I haven’t told you the motorcycle story yet :)