Longing For Home in Sydney

Longing For Home in Sydney

Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is a bench that was commissioned by the Governor of New South Wales for his wife, Elizabeth. To accommodate the governor’s request, convicts cut a bench out of sandstone rock. The story is that Elizabeth was so homesick that she used to sit on the bench while looking out for ships from Great Britain to sail into Sydney Harbour.  What a lonely-looking site.

I took this photo thinking that I was capturing Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. As it turns out, this is a bench under a big tree that’s in the same area.

This site matched my mood at the time. It was 2007 and I had just arrived in Sydney from Tahiti with a girl I went to college with, and Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair was one of our first stops in Sydney. Something had shifted in our friendship from the time we boarded the plane from Tahiti to the time we landed in Sydney. Here’s what happened…

I had just received my boarding pass for our red eye flight from Tahiti to Sydney, but my friend had yet to receive hers. About half an hour had gone by, and everyone else in our tour group had already boarded the plane. We kept getting the run around from the boarding agent, but she finally revealed that something was wrong with my friend’s electronic visa to Australia.  While I assured my friend that I would wait with her to see if the issue could be resolved, in the back of my mind, I knew that I would have to board the plane without her if push came to shove.

While anxiously waiting and wondering why my friend would ever have a problem with getting her visa approved, I asked her whether she had obtained citizenship during her many years of living in the U.S.   I knew that she had immigrated to the U.S. from India with her family as a child, but I thought that perhaps if she wasn’t a U.S. citizen, that could possibly explain her present visa drama. My friend responded that she was a citizen, and we continued to wait in nervous anticipation.

After a few frantic calls, the boarding agent finally issued a boarding pass to my friend, and off we went! Sigh of relief. The next morning we woke up across the International Date Line in Sydney, and the start of the new day proved that my friend had festered bad feelings towards me overnight.

int'l date line

When we got to Sydney, she rushed off of the plane ahead of me and made it a point to walk far ahead of me during our initial sightseeing excursions in Sydney. What the hell is wrong with her? I thought.

When we arrived at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, the awkwardness between us got progressively worse, and I soon realized that it was going to be a very long, uncomfortable trip. When our guide explained the significance of the site, I instantly related and wished that I had gone on the trip with a true friend who could be my own piece of home during my furthest, loneliest travels away from home.

Later on in the trip, my friend and I ended up having a screaming match in our hotel room. Turns out that she was mad at me for asking whether she was a U.S. citizen. Really?! It seemed like such a reasonable question to ask in light of the fact that she was about to be stranded in Tahiti. In any case, after our argument, we soon made up and decided to make the best of our time together. But when we returned to L.A. several days later, she defriend me from Facebook. It was official – our “friendship” was over. So silly.

Lesson learned. Never travel with hypersensitive, unreasonable people! Still, whenever I see this picture, it brings back those memories all the same.

Have you ever had an awkward or lonely travel experience? Please share…




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