My flight from Melbourne was a little bit delayed but I got back just before sunset. It was nice that I had the capsule hotel waiting for me – and it was worth the roughly $30 to have had it the night I was in Melbourne.
I met a new friend, Sally from Waga Waga – a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and we joined forces to go to dinner in Chinatown. Like me, it was her first time staying in a capsule hotel and we both laughed about how strange it was. Dinner was great conversation and an okay meal of Chinese food and then back to our capsules for what turned out to be a not very comfortable night of sleep for me – someone in my capsule room had gotten cold and turned off the air conditioning by unplugging it – this person more or less was just thinking of themselves since the AC is shared by all. When I complained about the temperature in the morning the desk person complained about people unplugging it.
Anyway, up early for another 15000 step walk. As usual, I set off in a random direction with no plan. After a long time of wandering up and down byways, I ended up in what is now my favorite neighborhood anywhere – Glebe. Mellow, leafy, lots of cafes and restaurants – and lots of super yachts parked nearby in Blackwattle Bay.
I walked to the Fisherman’s Wharf, checked out the fish markets, then crossed a crazy pedestrian bridge to Darling Harbor before crossing a more tourist oriented bridge back to downtown where I went straight to the Sydney Eye tower and paid too much to go to the observation deck – it was cool, but even though it is the tallest building in Sydney – it’s like the 35th tallest in the world – so I’m not sure it was worth $29 to go up there and take a few photos – but I think I would have regretted not going – so, I suppose it was worth it.
My old iPhone 6s is ready to be upgraded. The batteries die far too quickly and it is getting harder to charge. Since the battery was at 1%, I went back to the old capsule and plugged in for an hour or so to charge up. My plan for the rest of the day is to head down to the Rocks, maybe book a show at the Sydney Opera House for Tuesday night when I get back from Tasmania, and then head to the big LGBTQ Mardi Gras Parade. Everyone tells me it’s going to be an amazing parade and show – since I’m here, there is no way I’m going to miss it.
Tomorrow I fly out to Tazzy for a couple of days – then back here where I’ll most likely catch an opera house show, take a day trip to the Blue Mountains, and then head back to Honolulu. Time is going far too fast here.
Just after I finished writing the above, a bizarre old American woman in her 70s walked into the common areas of the hostel and started tearing through her bags. She said she had been arrested after being falsely accused of stealing some Englishman’s Nike pants – and now she had to move to another accommodation. It was her who was being arrested when the police woke me up the other morning.I tried to ignore her. She went behind me and said loudly, “I’m going to dress up as a dominatrix and go to the parade, do you wanna be my dog?” I declined the offer. The she came over and began giving me a head massage – which I resisted but then said “Fuck it, this feels pretty good” She had been a masseuse at some point, and a slumlord landlord, and a Santa Clara train operator and now her kids had moved in with her so she was on her way around the world. She noticed an odd bump on my head that I noticed recently as well and said – “You might want to get the doctor to check that out – it could be a tumor.”
Maybe it is, I hope not, but I will get it checked out.
I saved my work and went on my way.
The Sydney LGBTQ Mardi Gras was a huge parade and party – without a doubt the biggest party I’ve ever been to. I bought a $10 stool to stand on and watched with a group around me that quickly became a sort of street family as we were all pushed and shoved by the massive crowds struggling to get from one point to another. There was a sweet couple of Persian girls, a bunch of binary locals, and a couple of middle aged gay dudes in our ‘fam’ and it was cool how we all took care to watch out for one another. Crowds like that, not my favorite. It was my first time at a Gay Pride event and I have to admit, LGBTQ people know how to have fun and enjoy life much more than most people. I’m glad that our world is changing and becoming more acceptable of people being and loving whomever they choose. It was inspiring to see the surviving marchers from the first parade in Sydney back in 1978 – they were met by police back then, beaten, and arrested. Today, the Sydney police had a section in the parade as well – there were gay and lesbian cops, footballers, rugby players, firefighters, and lots of unicorns, rainbows, fairies, and leather/bondage men as well. I don’t know what percentage of the tens of thousands in the crowd were LGBTQ, my guess is that most of them were not, but it was amazing to see the support, the spirit of fun, and the camaraderie of the event. I feel very fortunate to have been here during this event. It must be interesting to be coming of age during this time of greater acceptance – when I was in my teens and twenties there was no acceptance, in fact, a person coming out was more likely to be beaten or fired or mocked or even killed for their sexual or gender identity choices if they didn’t conform to the binary ‘norm’. Then being in the hyper-macho Marine Corps during the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ period – there were no gay people around me. I’m sure some of my friends and colleagues must have been queer through the years, but I was never aware of it because it was a hazardous time for anyone brave enough to come out. Add to that the stigma of AIDS/HIV in the 80s and 90s and it’s no surprise that the first gay men or lesbian women I met were after I got out of the Marine Corps. I worked as a waiter and bartender at a hotel bar in Raleigh, North Carolina that was notorious for queer clientele – and a strange cross category – conservative southern politicians. This was where I made my first gay friends, but I never let them become close friends because 20+ years of anti-gay indoctrination had made me
prejudiced and scared. I look back now and I realize how terribly brave they all were and recognize how much I lost by not having them in my life. By the time I left that job, I was somewhat comfortable with gay culture but I still recognize that there is some part of me that retains those old learned fears – which is so silly. Last night was a great step towards actually getting over it.
I didn’t party the night away like many did – once the walkway was navigable, I walked back to Chinatown, grabbed a beer in Charlie Chan’s Bar, watched the fascinating crowds, and then made my way back to my pod.