Sunday, February 24, 2008

Perth: Land Of Sun & Love

(PICTURE: The Salter Sisters and me)

Fortunately, the low point of my Perth experience came at the moment I landed at the airport. Upon arrival at the airport my friend Lily was nowhere to be seen. This worried me for only a second since my two previous friends had greeted me like visiting royalty upon touching down in their city. I figured that since my plane left a little late yet arrived on time, Lily was probably planning on show up a little late. I said to myself, "she'll probably be at baggage claim in no time." Well, good fortune struck-- no, Lily wasn't at baggage claim -- my bag was the first one on the conveyor belt (I had to pay an extra $21 in fees because my bag was too heavy so the good people at Jetstar probably put it on the conveyor first to be least that is what I told myself). So I got my bag and walked over to some seats. Surely Lily would be there any minute...or in five minutes...or in ten minutes...or in twenty minutes. Alas I was stranded. 

Sitting alone, in the airport of a city I knew nothing about three things popped into my mind: 
1. My plane landed at 11 at night. It was now 11:30. I had no idea where I would stay.
2. I didn't know Lily's last name. 
3. I didn't have Lily's phone number.

I met Lily six months ago in London. She's was new to the city and about to be flatmates (roommates to us Americans) with my friend Dominique who moved to London a year ago. Lily and I hit it off right away because we both loved to eat. Our friendship was quickly cemented as we fought over the last scraps of street vendor jerk chicken at the Notting Hill Carnival. Within the first twenty four hours of hanging out she repeatedly talked about how much I'd love her family because all they like to do is eat. She insisted I come visit, never thinking I'd actually take her up on it--six months later and I'm typing this in her bedroom. 

So back to the airport: Lily had sent me an email a few weeks earlier with her mobile phone number. For some reason I didn't print out that email despite putting my Sierra Club membership at risk by printing about forty other emails with much less important information. Even that morning in Melbourne I thought to myself, "I should write Lily's phone number down." However, in my inbox was an email from Lily saying, "See you tonight." Well, at 11:30, thirty minutes after I had gotten my prompt luggage off the conveyor belt I was starting to think I was being punked--Aussie style. 

I walked around the airport searching for a wireless signal. Finally I found one and had to pay $10 to initiate it. Quickly I searched my gmail and found Lily's number. I wrote it down and approached a pay phone. After inserting some ridiculously large change into the phone and dialing the ten digit number the other line began to ring...and ring...and ring. No answer. No change from the phone. I inserted more money and dialed again. Again it rang and rang and rang. No answer. No change. Like in a cliche sports movie, I gave it a third and finally try with my last coins. After five rings a voice answered: "Hello." "Lily what kind of practical joke is this!" I half joked. "Oh, this is Lily's mom. She forgot her phone at home. She's at the airport but couldn't remember what airline you were flying." Minutes later we finally found each other and I fell in love...with Lily's dog Reuben (more to come in next blog). In Lily's defense she was at the airport on time but in the wrong terminal. However, not in Lily's defense I had emailed her two days earlier, "JETSTAR TERMINAL 2." 

After the initial glitch, it has been nothing but good times in Perth. We've basically done two things: lounged at the beach and eaten large, delicious meals. Well, they were almost all delicious. Lily hyped up this one Japanese place as "the best Japanese food ever." That was hardly the case. Having lived in LA the last seven years I've become a sushi snob. Any place that features a teriyaki chicken roll immediately loses any chance of being listed in my top 100 sushi spots. Basically, for you LA people, it would have been about two notches below Todai. I made this comment to Lily and I swear I heard her heart break. In fact, she just came into the room and read that paragraph and said, "God damn you! Why do you have to say that about my restaurant. You're so annoying." This is what pisses her off. This is the same girl who said I could blog about her eating her boogers because "it's part of her charm." Boogers = fair game. Zen = Off Limits. And yes blog fanatics, this is my second Australian booger story. 

Finally, as Jeremy Bier can attest to (yes, first shout out Bier) , I wake up early. My whole life I've been an early riser. I get that from my mom. Well, the first morning I was here I woke up at 7:45ish. That's late for me but I had just flown into a time zone two hours behind where I was for the past couple weeks. I grabbed my book and my laptop and headed downstairs. Making a salad in the kitchen was Lily's sister Anna (pictured above far left).  I hadn't met her the night before because we arrived at Lily's house around midnight. Well, after talking with her sister for a while and seeing her off to school, Lily's mother came downstairs. After chatting with her about politics for a while she went and woke up Lily. Lily, who had set her alarm to "wake up early" -- at 11:30AM! -- came downstairs like she had been awoken from the dead. Lily was astonished by my early rise and said, "If you woke up any earlier you'd have seen my Dad." The next morning I beat her Dad downstairs. The point is, I've gotten to know Lily's family over the last week and they are absolutely wonderful. It's hard to imagine a happier, sweeter, smarter family. Lily's parents are both lawyers in town, her sister is studying to be a vet (Stacy and Scott do you need an intern?), and her brother who could kick my butt with one hand tied behind his back -- without even using his cricket racket -- despite being seventeen.  Overall the Salter clan has been all Lily billed them to be and more.

It's late in Perth and time for bed. Details about my love for Reuben, their dog, tomorrow.