Somewhere only we know: the water by the Star

Jess Zlotnick knows a quiet place across from the city

wharf online

Adam is leaving for America in a week, and we’re going to the Star Casino. I’ve never been to the Star and Adam is taking me because there’s a glitterdisco-art-installation on the top floor that he wants to see before he leaves.

We get dumplings for dinner, pay casino prices for food court food, and catch up about the last few months. I’ve dressed up ever so slightly because I’ve never been here before and don’t know the rules. We’re buzzing with excitement because we both love glitter, and to boogie.

We get to the top floor and are told that the disco isn’t open on Sundays. It’s hard to suppress the disappointment, but how is the bouncer to know that Adam leaves before it’ll be on again, that this is our last chance to dance in glitter. So we don’t mention it, and we make our slow and mournful way down the escalators, past the food court, and meander in the direction of where his car is parked.

If you know the area you know that the Star is near neatly-stacked apartment blocks and the Pyrmont side of the harbour.

It’s dark, and when we get to Adam’s car we’re not quite ready to leave yet— to call this night of farewells over and done with. So we wander past his car, down quiet residential streets, past nice apartments for young urban professionals, until we get to the water.

The view of the Harbour Bridge from here is not the spectacle I expect to see. For starters it’s, from the wrong side of the bridge; it’s not a postcard vista. The bridge blends into the architectural landscape. It seems smaller, more skyline than icon. Lights glitter on the water from the offices, the city. Distant sounds of the city carry across the water, almost audible.

It’s quiet here. Some joggers pass through, the odd yuppie gets some air, but for the most part this pocket of Pyrmont is undisturbed. Adam and I sit there and talk about philosophy and America, and prolong the hours until he has to drop me home. We won’t see each other for a year at least.

After he’s gone I come here again, many times. It becomes the destination for my listless hours of unused time, afternoons after class but before an evening engagement, evenings after parties where I haven’t had a drink and want to leave but don’t want to go home yet. I excuse myself, thank the host, and drive down to the Star. I park my car outside someone’s apartment and watch the lights across the harbour, the ferries blinking red.

I’ve brought a couple dates here. When we’re sitting by the water, undisturbed, it feels like sharing a secret. It is somehow utterly private in its voyeuristic exposure: sitting on the edge of the water, you’re completely vulnerable to the eyes of passing ferrygoers, anyone in any of the office buildings who might look out their window. But people don’t stop here much, they don’t linger.

The view and the water and this particular strange angle of the bridge, alone or with company, belongs to me, to the moment.