Beyond the Sea

I recently changed positions at work and my new schedule has me waking up at 5 a.m. for a 6 a.m. start to my work day. It's a bit rough but with time it will be an ideal situation, especially in the summertime since I finish at 2 o'clock everyday. It's not the first time I have this type of schedule so I've been having flashbacks of the last time I worked six to two, I was living in Sydney.
Coogee Sunrise

I spent the days post-birthday seeking a daily treat as a consolation prize for getting out of bed at before the sun. I had a terrible data-entry job in an office run by children where I clocked-out in the early "arvo." After work, if I didn't have a shift at the café, I'd either browse the shops, go to the pub, or jump in the sea.
Sometimes I'd hit up a touristy spot with Amy, an English backpacker from the office and we'd gossip about the kids who called themselves our bosses - they were straight out of high school - a whole gaggle of Ugg-wearing 19-year olds who said things like "far out!" When they took breaks from gossip sessions, they would micro-manage the temp workers - ie. us.

A few days after my birthday my friend Nathan, a local from Oatley, wanted to take me on a propper lunch date as his belated gift to me. He took me to the fish markets in Pyrmont. I never remembered the journey we took to get there but it was a hike that departed from George Street and might have involved the monorail... or a track of some sort. In any case we ended up in Pyrmont, walking up some back alley roads and eventually sniffing our way to the destination.

It was a big warehouse, beside a dock, with rows of boats and hundreds of seagulls pooping everywhere. I wish I could paint a better picture of the atmosphere, it was just so... wharf. Inside the warehouse, the fishy odour seemed to latch on to my hair and clothes.

Nathan ordered a platter for two from one of the seafood vendors in the warehouse and popped over to the a little bottle shop on the premises for a mini bottle of wine with plastic cups.
Over on the pier, among the seagulls at the least soiled table, we set ourselves up for the lunch that would hold a special place in my heart forever.
The mountain - the Everest - of seafood platters sat before us. The prawns and their big black eyes, the squid with their tentacles still intact, the clams, the grilled fish, the mussels, the scallops. It was the most beautiful bottomless medley of happiness from under the sea. And it was fresh. Knowing it came from the water I was sitting by made the meal that much more delectable.

...It brings a tear to my eye just thinking how far I have to go for that kind of freshness when I'm in the middle of Canada...

After packing in as much seafood as my little frame could handle, I waddled back to George Street for my dinner shift at the café, the zipper on my trousers grasping in desperation, my hair, smelling of raw crustacean. But despite all the discomfort, my opinion of the Pyrmont fish markets changed from stinkin' to the sweetest thing.
No other lunch has, or will ever measure up.

The next day I was back in the stuffy office tending to my data-entry duties when the top 19-year old bossgirl started chatting to me about her Canadian father. After a few minutes on the topic, another one piped up and said she had spent the first years of her life in Canada and had vague memories of winter there. We were finally finding a common ground and I was able to look beyond the Uggs and give the "kids" a chance.

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