At Home in Brisbane


January 31, 2012, Washington, DC: And this is how we saw Brisbane: At sunrise, the river peeking through the trees in the backyard, rowers from the University of Queensland fitting in a morning workout. More than a decade later, my jaw still drops and I cannot believe I had the good fortune to live there.

In Brisbane, days were long and athletic, followed by nights rowdy and energizing.  Mornings often began with the lizard who lived out back waiting for us to invite him in; weekdays might include a bike ride to school and an afternoon workout in the university's 50-meter outdoor pool alongside Australian Olympians training for the impending summer in Sydney. Later we might run the riverside path that began just blocks away in Toowong Village, winding its way into the heart of the city. Before the sun set, chicken fajitas would sizzle on the grill out back.

You never knew what an evening might bring. Sometimes it was a return to Toowong for a five-cent soft-serve ice cream or a visit to the Royal Exchange, a large bar with outdoor terraces where university students arrived in droves on Bundy Tuesdays for cheap pitchers of Bundaberg Rum and Coke. Sometimes we might board the CityCat, the ferry that picked up at the park down the block and deposited us by the casino in the heart of the city. From there we might make our way to the piano bar downtown and sing our hearts out all night. Other nights, we might take the ferry a few stops farther to Kangaroo Point across the Brisbane River, take off our shoes, clip into the ropes, and climb barefoot up a brightly lit rock face overlooking the city skyline.

We never ran out of steam. We tried hard not to close our eyes. Our temporary hometown was too stimulating, too much. Twelve years later and far from Brisbane, we'd do anything to hold on to that energy.

                                                                                     Photo Credit: Chad Lynn

                                                                         Photo Credit: Chad Lynn