Sunday, 20 June 2010

digging the new digs

Here I am, at the computer that is seated on its little desk by the bedroom window, a window that looks out level onto a busy though pleasant road in the south-eastern suburbs of Sydney.

I was lucky. This has been a good buy. It came to me serendipitously. There I was, on my birthday (the 40th one, mind you), a little bummed out over how things were transpiring for me. Two days later, when I'd all but given up hunting for property, I happen to find myself on Gmail whereby an automated property alert via email came up on the screen. And because the property was located in one of my designated areas and at an attractive price, I called the real estate guy immediately. He regretted to tell me that the listed property had actually sold prior to the alert going through, however, the neighbours were making noises about selling up. And as I was the first person to call I was the first on his list. To his credit, my agent gauged me as a suitable buyer for this particular property.

It's turned out to be a smooth ride. I'm very lucky in that I liked my agent, and I liked the vendor as well. My agent had given me her number with her permission, at which she showed me around the apartment (not that it's exactly stadium-sized) so that the communication lines were made open. It seems as though I got a pretty fair deal in an iron-hot market. It's expensive though - everything is expensive around here. So be it. I can afford it, and most of all, I really like it. It felt like home to me as soon as I first entered. A small apartment it may be, but what it lacks in physical square metres it certainly makes up for in character.

My block is most definitely a pre-war built block. The ceilings are high and, most wonderfully, the various areas such as bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living areas are all compartmentalised, giving the unit(s) a homely rather than 'pokey' feel. For example, there's a tiny hallway outside the bathroom door that separates the living/kitchen area with the bedoom. In those units that are two-bedroom (mine is a one-bedder) that hall-area contains an extra doorway to the second bedroom, and since I don't have that door, I use that area to store a bookcase and broom cupboard.

No, I'm very happy here, very lucky, and, provided I can continue to meet mortgage repayments over a long period of time, very secure. I do feel very grateful, and grateful for the serendipitous circumstances more than anything else. Like I was meant to be here.

There's no parking space on title for me however. Those are alloted to the two-bedders. Story of my life really, but I don't mind. A car's a car and I could easy just walk away from it. I just had the alarm removed the other day to have it replaced with an immobiliser. Part of the reason I got rid of the alarm was because one of my actuaters (clicker-things) broke and the other one was starting to fail. But my decision was set into hurried activity after my first night at this apartment, whereby, around midnight during my first night as I was settling down with a book, my car alarm suddenly went off. It's not a chirpy little thing either, my alarm makes ambulance sirens sound mousey in comparison. I ran outside to turn it off. Came back in. 4:50am I awake to the sound of a car alarm, my alarm. I remain frozen though alarmed, wishing this whole scenario was a dream and it would just pass as I buried my head in the covers. It didn't. I got up to deactivate the siren once more, believing myself to have blown it with my new neighbours and the entire street for that matter. Almost surprisingly I had no slashed tyres, no nasty letters in the mailbox and nor were there verbal recriminations or stand-offs. I suppose it's because that car had never been seen parked on this street before and no-one knew who the hell I was or who that car belonged to anyway. Thankfully.

I realised next day that one of the back doors wasn't locked properly. So much moving and opening and closing of doors that day had rendered that tiny error that still has me feeling murky and paranoid everytime I think back to that awful Saturday morning alarm call, and the sound of a baby screaming in a nearby apartment after I'd inconspicuously clicked off the alarm remotely from my bedroom window in the dark of a cold, sleep-thirsty morning.

And I'm still scared my car's suddenly gong to go off again, needing to remind myself that that alarm has been removed and is destroyed, never to be seen or heard again, and that the immobiliser is utterly and non-negotiably silent!

There's a pleasant, almost-country town vibe on this section of my street. The grassy patch on the footpath is wide. There's a lovely park across the road. And the area's very much a mixture of different energies. I'm at an area where four suburbs meet and I'm at the corner of my particular suburb. Behind and south to me is Maroubra with its boxy streets and houses that zig-zag to Maroubra junction which reminds me of the south coast towns in some respects. South-west of me is Pagewood with its lots of large blocks in spiral streets that had seemed to be estabished quite cheaply during the 50's and 60's. It's surely a quite expensive area now. And across the road from me is that aforementioned park at which beyond are further parks and a huge golf course. But the most interesting suburb is at the northern end of the park across the road, Daceyville. Daceyville is a deliberate garden suburb that was established in the 1910s with planned, manicured streets which houses lovely cottages with no picket fences. All amenities and utilities are spread out very nicely in Daceyville, it's almost like Canberra with palm trees. Daceyville has always been so close to me geographically and I'd never known of it, for as soon as it starts, it stops, surrounded by my wayward turf on one side, Gardeners Road on the northern end and Eastlakes on the other.

It goes to show that there's a lot of diversity in my area. There appears to be a lot of medium-newish money that is balanced with housing commission units and 'battler' types. I see obese men walking their dogs, not unlike the character in Camus' The Outsider who greets the narrator by the doors of their respective units.

The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is often branded for its supposed exclusivity and prestige etc, but there are pockets of it, like where I am, that could be considered to be arse-end areas in some ways. My area is not as nice as the North Shore, and it certainly lacks the character of much of the inner-west. And some of those really expensive areas of the East, such as Bondi Beach, were actually quite cheap some 20 years ago. Things move and change and it's fun to observe, but the most important thing is, am I happy here?

The answer, is yes.

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...