August, 2014. A couple of Winters ago, I flew me, myself and I up North for a well-deserved tropical holiday to Cairns. I checked myself into a five-star hotel for five days, four nights, where the pool, the sun and my pale Sydney skin could get well acquainted.
Spending time alone has never been an issue – I’ve lived alone many times: in Sydney, in the outback, in Newcastle, Brisbane, Darwin, overseas… But, let’s face it, who am I kidding? A tropical holiday would be much much, much, soooo much nicer with (male) company: Long days by the pool. Couples massages. Romantic dinners. Snorkelling. Pretty much what you did in Fiji with the reality-TV husband, but the real deal. Someone I actually… click with… Oh, how divine!
Being the impromptu single person that I am, I booked the relaxing getaway last minute after (once again) quitting my day job. It was Winter; the cloudy, grey skies were more than depressing and I needed a break from reality (once again). And that Simone is why your resume looks like a dog’s breakfast. Great career choices. Let’s see here… Oh, yes. Part-Time Climb Leader, Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Applied for that one as a joke and actually got the job. Pat on the back for me. If you must know, I spent the Summer of 2009 taking tourists over the “coat-hanger”, utilising my, well, “witty sense of humour” and newly-learnt Sydney history, to entertain koala huggers. Was totally avoiding reality. I was young and stupid, and in the end, penniless. But hey, who can say they’ve climbed the Harbour Bridge over a hundred times? Yeah, exactly. It’s on the resume!
Anyway, as I was saying, I booked this relaxing mini-break last minute. Within a couple of weeks, I swapped my black trench and knee-high boots for a halter neck and straw hat. Day one: so blissful, so relaxing, so peaceful. Day two: so heavenly, so relaxing, so serene. Day three: a little too peaceful, a little too quiet, but oh-so-serene. Day four: Okay, I’m bored and I need someone to talk to.
So, I’m out tanning, aka burning, my Sydney Winter skin by the pool when I get on it. No, not the alcohol. Although, if I’m going to be totally honest, I may have been a little bit tip-say. Sunny raze and cockatiels don’t mix-ah! Fine, okay, I had got myself very tipsy. The truth is, I was getting all happy and tipsy under the sunshine when I had a lightbulb moment to get on it – on Tinder that is.
Okay. Age limit set. Cairns isn’t a big place, so radius, make it…five kilometres. And start swiping. Tourist. Tourist. Backpacker. Tourist. And just went I thought I was going to have to resort to an evening of adult conversation with someone that hardly spoke a word of English, I came across Daniel*. Hmmm. Daniel. Twenty-four. Primary School Teacher. Seems normal. Pretty cute. Works with kids, so he can’t be too weird, right? Swipe… Right!
One hour later, one new match. Daniel. I wasted no time. I gave Daniel the low-down: Twenty-seven Sydney girl in Cairns; tonight, is my last night, looking for someone to have a drink with. Oh, and I also work with kids. #tindermatchmakerbrowniepoints
Although there was an opportunity to have a relaxing Thursday drink with a Sydney stranger, Daniel wasn’t quite convinced. It was past his usual bedtime of 9PM on a school night. It’s actually 8PM by the way, but he won’t want me to tell you this. ‘But it’s my last night – I leave in the morning.’ Batting my eyelashes… Pretty pleassseee. I’m so bored and lonelyyyyy.
Within a few hours, Daniel and I were sipping on white wine at Wharf Bar. Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Daniel was in Cairns after being offered a permanent teaching position the year before. He was ridiculously polite, very well spoken and he clearly appreciated the simplest things in life: friends, family, and sunshine. We got along effortlessly. The vibe of the date certainly fitted in with the vibe of Cairns – super chilled, super relaxed.
After a couple of hours and two wines down, I walked Daniel back to his car, parked on the same street as my hotel. We said goodbye, with a kiss on the cheek, and that was that. I flew back to Sydney the next day.
For the months following, Daniel and I spoke often. In fact, it was more than often – we texted and called one another almost daily – for months. And then came the acoustic dedications. For some reason or another, the reason is wine and wine, I forgot the part where Daniel let me in on the fact he plays the guitar, and he can sing – very well. This confession must’ve happened after I told him I thoroughly enjoy blasting One Direction and Tay Tay through my headphones at the gym… Wine makes me so God damn honest. So, needless to say, it came as quite a pleasant surprise when Daniel sent through an acoustic cover of Chet Faker’s, Talk Is Cheap. Ahhh, I die. Over the next few months, I randomly received many other covers, from Vance Joy to James Bay to Troye Sivan.
Despite the constant calls, texts and sing-a-longs, come December, I had met a guy, Sam*. He and I became official within a matter of weeks, Facebook relationship status change and all. (You’re yet to meet this one! It’s so… intense; I’m saving it for a rainy day!) I texted Daniel to let him know, and although our relationship, whatever it was, seemed somewhat unfinished, the fact that he was in Cairns and me in Sydney, we couldn’t just put our lives on hold for something that may never eventuate to anything more than videos of guitar strings being strummed by his North-Queensland suntanned fingers.
The Summer of 2014 was an emotional one – my relationship with Sam was, and still is, one of the biggest regrets I have in my entire history of dating. While we were together, I spoke to Daniel a handful of times, if that, but it wasn’t the same. And so, we stopped. The texts, the calls, and the acoustic dedications ceased, as they should have. Despite feeling the need to talk to Daniel on many occasions, it wasn’t the ‘right’ thing to do, and so I didn’t.
After one too many disagreements and many tears of sadness, I finally broke it off with Sam in the February of the following year. I felt relieved and I wasted no time in reconnecting with Daniel, who I of course, naturally, thought about often. Personally, I think Daniel looks a lot like Stevie from Made In Chelsea, which funnily enough, is a reality TV show Sam was addicted to watching while we were together. We’d watch it and all I could think about was, Shit, he’s just like Daniel. A very guilty pleasure indeed.
Six weeks later, I was on a flight back to Cairns. My flight landed on a weekday, a school day. So, I once again checked into a five-star hotel, treated myself to the tropical sunshine by the hotel pool for the afternoon, before meeting Daniel for a drink that evening. And when I say drink, I mean numerous drinks by the pool followed by a midnight swim. That moment was seven months in the making. I knew him so well, yet at the same time, I didn’t know him at all. It was surreal. It was really, really good.
The days we spent together were, in true Daniel style, chilled. Super chilled. It was so chilled to the point that we realised quite quickly we made for a very good friendship. It didn’t have to be said: we were so suited to one another – as friends. I left Cairns four days later so very happy knowing that Daniel and I hit it off – he was someone who would be in my life for a long time to come.
And so, a couple of months later, Daniel made his way down to Sydney for the first time ever. He stayed with me on the Northern Beaches for a few days and I played Tour Guide, combining my witty humour with all my knowledgeable facts about the Harbour and its bridge. We spent our evenings on my balcony enjoying cheese platters and red wine, listening to music and the waves of the ocean. See, I can do chilled to have you know! I was so very happy knowing that Daniel and I had picked up where we had left off – as really, really good friends.
Two and a half years on, Daniel is still very much in my life. We speak at least once a week, text consistently, and if I’m lucky, he’ll shoot me an acoustic cover featuring his tanned North-Queensland fingers. In fact, these days, I even get to choose the song #tinderBFFmatchmakerbrowniepoints He’s also just scored a new music teaching job on the Sunshine Coast and so I cannot wait to use his new apartment as my Winter-getaway holiday destination.
So, what can I say apart from – thank you, Daniel, for staying up past your bedtime. I told you it’d be worth it.