Visiting the Gold Coast after a 15-year hiatus felt weird. Arriving after a fifteen hour flight from Los Angeles, I strolled the promenade as the sun began its descent. Inhaling the thick sea air, I took in the familiar beach scene and listened to the roar of its crashing waves. The red-and-yellow lifeguard flags, symbols of a safe zone, didn’t draw me in — I had no desire to get in the water. Instead, I craved the company of my parents, sisters, and brothers, as well as my godmother, to recall memories of this part of Queensland associated with our wonder years. Walking alone didn’t feel right.
That’s not to say I didn’t have a good laugh on my own. Drawing from my own bank of memories, I remembered how my sister, Alana, and I had feared for our lives in a pedicab driven by a guy named ‘Spiro,’ whose hair-pin turns left our hair standing on end. I remembered when I’d been dumped so hard by a wave, that it instilled in me a lifelong fear of the deep. Oh, and the time a group of us had sneaked into the very same hotel where I was booked for the night — the former Gold Coast International Hotel, now QT Gold Coast — to visit our new Melburnian “boy friends” (yes, we got caught). Later, looking down at the pool from the hotel balcony, I noticed the former hotel’s logo still splashed across its bottom. Directly in front of the QT, the Focus apartment building stands in its cylindrical glory. It’s where we’d holidayed for a number of years, right across from the beach. The clusters of condos inspired Rear Window action, and judging from the number of cranes against the skyline today, such activity is poised to continue indefinitely.
Apart from high-end brand stores like Prada and Louis Vuitton, a tram, a smattering of new hotels, and a couple of outdoor shopping malls, the Gold Coast felt the same to me — slightly dusty, touristy, with a penchant for neon lights and thrill-seeking rides that come alive at night.
The next morning, ooking out from the15th floor of the hotel, across the beautiful stretch of turquoise and deep blue water along the horizon, I was relieved of the previous day’s racing thoughts and anticipations. I felt more peaceful. I was in Australia, at home, and it felt really good to be back.