Sydney is my home. Partly because there’s nowhere else I want to call my home, and partly because I live(d) here, but, if you want to know where I’m from, I’m from Sydney. And I’m leaving, for a little while at least, as of next Wednesday.
I’ve never reviewed a city before, but let’s give it a shot.
When I was younger and Sydney was not my home I dreamed about moving here, and by the time I did, I feared it was too late. Once charmed by its urbanity, its bustle, its cosmopolitanism and its hugeness, I had found better examples of the same elsewhere. Having seen Los Angeles and New York, I know longer saw Sydney as the center of everything the way it did when I was a high schooler. It was just a big island on a small island.
My first experiences with Sydney were when it was the biggest island of all, back when I measured my age in single digits and gaped open-jawed at a city of vast thoroughfares, cavernous shops, dizzying skyscrapers, and thickly-patched suburban streets sewn with houses and trees and stadia and cars. Visiting relatives in Sydney, there always seemed to be more Sydney. It was another country.
As I grew older and mapped out that Sydney, it became less alien and more seductive. My first visit alone was probably when I was fifteen or sixteen, to go to the Homebake music festival. I had in hand very specific instructions as to how to transfer between trains to get to the required station, and though I was confident, I’m sure my mother fretted terribly the entirety of the day.
I saw that day only a skyline, some bands, a crowd of people, and the vast stretch of parkland to the east of the CBD called The Domain, but now I knew I could do it, I was seduced, and I wanted more. I returned, more and more often. For shows, for shopping, for galleries, and events, and, when friends began moving there, to visit those friends. In my final year of high school, I longed to go to the University of Sydney, for its location, its prestige, and for its beautiful sandstone classic collegiate architecture. I had neither the grades nor the means to support myself there, so I did not, but I do retain a small amount of satisfaction that I am now a USyd student, and I have had classes in that old quad building I saw in brochures and in movies .
Sydney is, of course, a different place as a home rather than a place to visit. There’s a lot more to dislike about it, for a start: Its wretched public transport, its expensive housing, its traffic, the way its older streets seem to run in a direction specifically designed to prevent you from getting where you want to go, its parochial enthusiasm for the slightest trivial event, its developers disregard for liveability, its resident’s kneejerk hostility to any development whatsoever .
But I like Sydney. I like the scruffy but gentrified Inner West, where I live and work and study. I like not having to drive my car anywhere much at all, even if the buses are torturous and my neighbors are absurdly hostile to rail proposals. I like all the cafes and restaurants in my neighborhood, and the way I can go meet my friends for pub trivia down the end of the street, and then, on the way home, at midnight, get offered a joint by the old European hippie who only talks to me when he’s high and I’m drunk.
I like the Bridge, though I can’t drive on it anymore because I don’t have an electronic tag on my car. I like Glebe Point Bridge because when I drive over it and see the Harbour and the city skyline yawn to the east, I feel awed by the majesty of it all, just the way I was when I was not a local. I don’t like the Eastern Suburbs because they’re weird and have strange architecture and people with, y’know, jobs. I don’t like Bondi, because it looks like Australia on a film set, and the only people around speak with British or Kiwi accents. But I like Surry Hills and Darlington and Paddington, and, oh, I am sounding a lot like a detestable urban liberal saying that.
One thing about this town, though, that isn’t really a part of its consciousness but seemed incredibly apparent to me from the start was just how much of an immigrant’s city it is. And I don’t just mean international immigrants, though we have those as well. Of all the friends I’ve made here, only a handful were born and raised within the city. The rest of them are from other state capitals or other regional centers — Brisbane, Wollongong, Melbourne, Canberra, the Central Coast — or even farther afield: the Philippines, Chicago, Colombia. In Australia, we really do all converge on Sydney, even if it isn’t actually the center of everything.
And now I’m leaving.
 Well, one movie: Looking for Alibrandi
 People complain about its vapidity. I neither notice nor mind.
 I can’t describe his origins with any more specificity than that.