On Thursday, November 6, I flew from New York to Los Angeles. Then Los Angeles to Brisbane. Then Brisbane to Sydney. (I honestly didn’t know that planes could stay in the air that long.) I arrived in Sydney on Saturday, November 8. I have no idea what happened to Friday, November 7, but I suspect it ended up in the same place as my garment bag which, sadly, never showed up in Sydney. My driver put his hand on my shoulder sympathetically as we watched the empty conveyor belt finally stop.
So I am in my room at the Intercontinental Hotel wondering what to do. I have no clothes and in a few hours I am expected to be at the home of Dierdre Brennan, from Nick Australia, who is hosting a welcome party for international guests attending SPAA (Screen Producers Association of Australia). I am one of Dierdre’s “international guests” and I imagine, briefly, what it would be like if I were to show up in my blue and white striped t-shirt, the one that I sleep in at night, my pajamas.
I call Dierdre’s cell phone (or “Moby” as they say here) and I leave her a message saying I won’t be able to make it. “My bag was lost, blah-blah-blah, I am so very sorry but have a wonderful evening.” I settle in for a night of room service and watching the Obama afterglow on CNN.
But then my phone rings. Is it my bag calling? No, it’s Dierdre. She insists that I put on my blue and white t-shirt and come to her party. She is charming and persuasive and she assures me that no one will care what I’m wearing and, besides, she has a very nice husband who has very nice clothes and I am more than welcome to wear any of them.
I am impressed. This would not happen in New York. So I get in a cab in my pajamas and I go to Dierdre’s home.
She greets me at the door and sweeps me upstairs where she has laid out a variety of evening wear from her very nice husband’s wardrobe. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. I am genuinely touched that she has made this effort, but I see that the party is casual and decide my pajamas will do just fine.
I enter the mix and am happy to discover a variety of old and new friends from the BBC, Nickelodeon, ABC, TEN, Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Decode, Sticky Pictures and many other well-known production companies and broadcasters. This is unusual, I think, to see so many creatives, network executives and “competitors” mixing happily, drinking good Australian wine and eating lovely Chinese dumplings out of spoons. “Yes, I like this very much,” I think.
So, despite the fact that I was semi-delirious from sitting upright in the last row of Qantas economy class for 20 hours and despite the fact that I was wearing my pajamas, I had a wonderful first night in Sydney. Not only did Dierdre summon me from my hotel room but she took good care of me from the moment I arrived until the moment that she put me in the taxi that her very nice husband fetched for me. (Some men don’t like to be taken care of but I do.)
When I returned to the Intercontinental, my garment bag was lying on the floor of my room as though dropped there by some sneaky Australian munchkin while I was out. This is my reward, I thought, for venturing out of my room to be among friends tonight. I fell into a Rip Van Winkle-like sleep and dreamt of wallabies, blue mountains and didgeridoos.
I woke up this morning, Sunday, November 9, and from my window I could see a cerulean blue sky, the sailboats on Sydney Harbor and the beautiful shell-like Sydney Opera House. The water called to me (as all water does) so I put on my “trainers” and went for a run along the lovely path that hugs the coastline and snakes through the botanic gardens.
And as I ran I had a feeling that I don’t get very often. It was a conscious feeling of happiness. Not a feeling of “this or that would make me happy,” but a feeling that now, right now, in this very moment, I am happy. As I ran along the water’s edge, my face covered in sunscreen like some strange Kabuki jogger, I thought to myself, “Yes, this is the land of Oz. I have arrived in Oz.”
Stay tuned for part two of my journey to Australia.