(It was a) total co-incidence. It was the first place where I found a hotel when I was here on a long business trip. And then the first place where I found an apartment when I moved here.
Surry Hills is this random place where I got stranded after I left Germany.
I was living in Germany working in TV. I had worked in that industry for 15 years and it was the love of my life but it was all consuming. I was travelling the world. Friendships were hard and relationships were impossible. I thought I was totally happy. Working in TV was a really important relationship in my life. But as it happens sometimes with relationships in your life, I woke up one day and I kind of fell out of love. I was done. The turning point was at a retreat in Sri Lanka. I was there and having a good time and I heard this sound I hadn’t heard for years and it was like when you hear something from your childhood and you think, what was it? I heard myself laugh, a belly laugh and I hadn’t heard that in years. So I thought that I had to make a decision. I had a business trip to Sydney and I was meant to be there for two days but ended up here for 6 weeks. It was during Mardi Gras and I laughed a lot. I had the best time. I thought “You know what? The universe is trying to tell me something. If you like it so much and you think you can’t laugh like this at home, then just move.” So I got this crazy random idea. I went home, quit my job, packed my bags and moved to Australia.
When I first arrived in Surry Hills I would have never thought this would be the place I stayed. It was so hard to get food. The only place to buy food was what we call “Murder Mall” on Cleveland St. That food is not really me. The changes I can see are now there is lovely, green, wholefood, and healthy nutrition.
I don’t see Surry Hills as unsafe. The “crazies” are pretty harmless. Typical Surry Hills houses used to have grills and bars everywhere. I don’t want to feel like I live in a prison. It’s better now than in Frog Hollow times!
Human nature means you want to hold on to what you know. But everything changes so there is no way we can freeze it. Surry hills will develop. Sometimes I do bitch about the rich families moving in. because it used to be more culturally varied. It used to be a gay suburb, but it’s more mixed now. There’s enough public housing here to keep Surry Hills real.
It’s like the Ugly Duckling story. Surry Hills has come to fruition.
I do worry that community may disappear. I have nice chats with families and kids. I have that network of neighbours but Australians are so mobile. It’s up to you to make community. I live and work in Surry Hills so I make it a priority. With my business, Tonika Health, we want to be part of the community. I’m excited if our patients live in the area and I like being part of my neighbourhood.
However, sometimes my patients think when they see me on the street “Oh my God. She knows things about me that no one does. She’s seeing me out with my friends drinking.” But really it’s fine.
My life looks straight, like I went from one thing to the next, but it wasn’t. To my teenager self I would say “It does get better”. I was a sad and raging teenager. But that bloomed into positive passion.
Making life count for me and others is important. I will never get why these trillions of atoms, why they stick together and be me for however long. So that’s random and special. When that happens you have to make the best of it. Treading lightly and not destroying our environment is important too. I want to leave a positive impact on the people I meet.