From Balmoral to the Big Apple: Tristan Rosko shares her Mosman memories - and talks life in New York City.
CAREFREE DAYS RIDING HER BIKE AND JUMPING OFF BALMORAL JETTY PROVIDED AN IDYLLIC CHILDHOOD FOR TRISTAN ROSKO. BUT THE BORN AND BRED LOCAL ALWAYS KNEW THAT LIFE WOULD TAKE HER FAR BEYOND THE 2088 POSTCODE, AS ANNA USHER REPORTS.
Thanks for chatting with us Tristan. How long have you lived in New York?
I've been here for 16 years (but it feels more like 20, because it's had my heart for that long). I was single and living in Sydney in my early 30s when I left in search of love.
I first came to the City in the summer of 1998 for 3 months, and after that I came every summer for a month.
Finally, I gave in and just moved to New York in 2002 - but it was a case of one foot in, one foot out, and I went home to Australia for most of the winter!
Steely resolve saw me come back in February 2003 and I met my husband just 4 months later, after I made New York that promise.
Tell us a bit about your connection to Mosman and the family history you have here?
I was born when my parents lived Beauty Point, and we lived there for my first few years.
Then we moved to Botanic Road, Balmoral, into the house that my mother's family had owned for a long time.
My Grandparents lived at the top of the steps in the bend of our street in a beautiful little house with a gorgeous 3-story garden (I swear fairies lived there!), and it had amazing views over Balmoral from their balcony.
My Great Grandfather is said to have named our street because he loved the Botanical Gardens.
My Papa was an electrician, and my Nana was a hairdresser, and later a home maker (she made an amazing pavlova!)
My Nana used to go up to the Junction, to her hairdressing salon, with her bird on her shoulder - she drove a white Valiant, and was very pretty and very kind.
What was Mosman like in the 1970's?
Back then, Balmoral was very different: it was small, dark brick homes with sandstone bases, archways to 'under the house', and lovely little yards in the front with small brick fences.
It was truly beautiful and I remember hearing stories of the tram lines that used to service the beach when my mother was small.
As kids of the 70's, we played a lot in "the bush" behind our house - from "Dead Man's Tunnel", over the tram tracks to "Fern Gully" - where we carved weapons out of tree branches and had mock wars with my brothers and sisters.
Our back garden had a huge wattle tree that only my sister could climb all the way to its top and allegedly see the beach (I should probably ask her now if that was true - I was too uncoordinated to climb up that high, so I can't verify that!)
Instead, I played solo tennis on the wall of the house across the street, right in the first bend, and sometimes we took showers in our cozzies under the waterfall at "Big Rock" down at The Reserve after a large rainfall. The man in the house across the road from The Reserve used to kayak around his garden after a heavy rain!
In the late 1980s there were jazz concerts in the Rotunda on Sundays that everyone from all around would flock to - we'd go with our parents and everyone would have so much fun running around misbehaving, while our folks all hung out and chatted on blankets listening to jazz as the sun went down. And the windsurfing! So much windsurfing. Always. I really miss the on-shore wind at home on the beach.
Do you ever come home to Australia?
Every year, usually during mid-winter school break (February). Sometimes twice a year (but only if I'm lucky).
When you are in Australia - what are your favourite things to do?
I love going to Balmoral and sitting on the ramp to eat hot chippies and potato scallops. The Bondi to Bronte walk is always special as is spending time with my son's Godparents. I love showing him all the places I went to as a kid, but there's never enough time to do it all, or see everyone I want to see.
Do you consider your kids Australian or American?
I have just the one child. He's a boy, aged 10. I think of him as mine, not as a nationality (although he sounds SO American).
As for him, he doesn't identify as "American", but as "a half Australian New Yorker". He's very proud of his heritage from both his parents.
His father is native New Yorker, with Polish and Irish ancestry, and his mother is 100% Australian (complete with the right accent).
What do you miss most about Mosman?
The people, the nor-easterly winds in the summer, the clean water, and the Aussie sense of humour. The sky. Gum trees. Sulphur-crested cockatoos.
The sounds of all the birds (the one that sings in the middle of the day when you're meant to be at school - I miss that one!) and the sound of the boats in the moorings at Balmoral.
I also miss the smell of frangipanis, gardenias, and summertime jasmine. The purple-lined streets in jacaranda season. And fireworks on New Year's Eve. All of it!
Talk to us about the differences between Sydney and New York?
Same planet, different worlds. We technically speak the same language, but that's where the similarity between Americans and Australians ends. The differences? Everything!
The ambient sounds of the city are polar opposites; the layout of the cityscape; the energy; the weather; the humour; the way they write the date; the social challenges; the positives and the negatives - it's like apples and broccoli - they're not even the same food group!
Where do you live in NYC?
We live in Alphabet City, on the lower east side of Manhattan. I can't describe my home for you, it's too long and personal of a story, but I will say this: it's awesome, and we have a pretty tight-knit community!
We know every person who lives in our building, all the people who work at the coffee shop on our corner, and are familiar with all the trees in all the gardens and the parks around us. We have a magical neighbourhood that looks a little bit like Sesame Street sometimes.
Would you rather summer in Sydney or New York City?
Both. I hate winter. I love summer in France, too. Ha! I just love summer (how Aussie is that?!)
Choose one: A slice of New York pizza or a meat pie?
If it's vegan pizza from Two Boots on Ave A & 3rd St., and a veggie pie (or roll) from Tuck Shop on 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Aves, I'll take both!
Christmas in Australia or Xmas in the U.S?
Christmas in Australia! Are you crazy?!
Bagel and cream cheese or Vegemite on toast?
Vegemite on toast but with vegan margarine, just to be picky and high maintenance!