Yes 404. This is how many days I’ve spent in this place.
A pretty long time to stay in a hostel, although most who know this place would say not long enough.
‘You don’t say goodbye to this place, you’ll always come back.’ This is what I was told by Jelle on one of my first weeks in the hostel. I didn’t think anything of it back then. Little did I know this place would become home, that I would find more of me here than I have anywhere else in the world. That I would want to settle down, finally, after years of adventure. Little did I know that I would also lose myself here a few times too. Never for long though.
‘You see people at their best and at their worst and everything else in between’ Sarah said to me. It’s not like real life where you get to choose if you want to catch up with your friends. A lot of the time your friends are feet away from you, in the same room or just out the back. You can’t go for a shower or to the toilet or go fetch a glass of water without bumping into someone.
I’ve witnessed countless people fall in love, I’ve been there to help people through their heartbreaks, I’ve been here when I’ve heard heartbreaking news from home, I’ve been here to celebrate my birthday, to celebrate a hundred other peoples birthdays. I’ve shared some of the happiest moments of my life in this place.
But what exactly makes this place so special? At least 3 times during any week I’ll sit at the picnic table, look around and think, my god I have SO MUCH LOVE for these people. My heart aches. Their attitude to life, their kindness, their presence. (and I’m not always drunk when I think this).
‘Mine, Ten’ is a rule that’s been going on in the hostel for a few years. This weekend I only just found out the meaning. So the rule is that nobody ‘owns’ anything, everyone shares. Therefore the word ‘mine’ is banned unless it’s followed with the word ‘ten’ and if someone beats you to the word ‘ten’ or if you forget and somebody catches you then you have to do 10 push ups. Heather laughs at my passion for not only the rule (because I do keep on top of the game) but my love for the meaning of it.
What comes around goes around… as a follow on to the ‘Mine Ten’ rule this hostel is beautiful for sharing what you do have. I spent my first year very skint and my second year pretty comfortable with money. This year I have loved giving to the ‘poor’, just as the slightly richer gave to my poor soul many time before. Whether that be drinks, food, cooking for me, cigarettes or if was really lucky treating me to a Long Island Ice Tea out at Bennys. It’s been really nice to have been in the position to give back, without expecting anything in return and hoping that this will go around to the next person which it seems to have done for many years.
The moon, the energy, the curse. To my friends back home, particularly the ones who haven’t experienced hostel life I say it’s like love island. Throw lots of young adults in one big house with mixed dorms and plenty of alcohol… every single night. It’s love island minus a lot of the drama. No one’s competing for money, pretty much everyone’s skint and just here for a good time. The moon, forever setting to mood, causing peoples energies to align and it’s really special and mostly bizarre to witness. The different stages of the moon determines the whole atmosphere of the hostel. It will sometimes go from no one having much energy for a few days and feeling really drained, to everyone going crazy, getting with each other, causing mischief in the hostel or around Fremantle for no reason what so ever, we spend so much time with these people that we are so in sync.
At different times in my life I will be very different people. I found this out when I first started traveling (when I would actually travel, like go and see places I mean, yeah it’s been a while) one hostel I’d be this outgoing, confident, ready to party person for a few days and by the time I got to the next hostel I’d be in full on hibernation mode. I wont venture out, I’ll sleep 3 x more than I usual do or even need to and I’ll make no friends.
It wasn’t until I’d been staying in The Old Fire Station for a while that I noticed these different version of myself merge into one and it became clearer to me who I really was. Those people have taught me over time to truly love myself, to teach me that I AM ENOUGH I don’t need to be more chatty like this person or more funny like that person or less dramatic like another. I am whole, I am my own person and people here LOVE me for that. I can truly say I am comfortable with who I am as a person, I am kind and thoughtful and strong and can keep my calm in almost any situation which has been a god sent lately and I AM FUN, no matter how long I struggled with the feeling of being boring for years before. These people I’ve met over the last 2 years in this special place have made me like this, they have taught me kindness, and selflessness and the glorious feeling of giving. They have taught me to believe in myself and to step up and keep running in the right direction. They’ve also taught me when to speak up for myself and when to keep quiet.
I love this place for it’s incredible ability to feel just like home with everything you need, and for the people around you to become just like family. I’ll miss the nights by the fire in winter, the mornings waking up on the sofa, the Friday afternoons skipping into the hostel after a weeks work is complete and having that FULL ON FRIDAY FEELING, the random Tuesday nights when you stay awake until 6am the following morning… just because. The fact that people say YES to shots at 10am and you’re at the pub within the next 5 minutes. Of course there have been down times where I’ve cried myself to sleep over silly boys, I’ve been ill so many times I’ve not made it out of bed, I’ve made myself so poorly due to work stress and I have been lonely very lonely for about 4 whole days in the 404 I’ve been here. That was tough.
Here’s to Room 1, Room 2, Room 4, Room 5, Room 8, Room 9, The Bat Cave, Room 16, Room 17, Room 18, Room 19, M&M’s, Bengal (big shout out to my fav Bengal team mates), Area 51, Room 21, THE SOFAS (red one’s in particular) – thank you for keeping me comfy at night.
And so… to the ones that bring out my crazy – the Keiran’s, the Vincent’s, the Sarah’s, the Katie’s, the many Thomas’, The Tess’, The Mils’ and many many more…
and to the ones that keep me sane (ish) – The Esther’s, The Anna’s, Hayley’s, the Heather’s, the PING PONG TABLE, the Darren’s, The Elliot’s ….etc.
Also to the ones who have made me grow as a person without even knowing – The Torbens, The Ranka’s, The Ethan’s, The Jelle’s….etc.
and to every single person in between. Thank you for making the last 2 years unforgettable. I’ll probs be back in a couple of weeks but that is not the point. To The Old Fire Station Backpackers, the staff and all you people I have met along the way you have made my life richer in so many ways and I will forever be grateful for this.