Melbourne: Goon and Graft

Through my travels in India, Nepal, Japan, Thailand and Australia, I’ve had a year of summer now. A year. You imagine it to be great, don’t you. Twelve whole months of sunshine and blue skies and warm weather. The never-ending summer: paradise.

Yeah well I’m bored of it now. It’s been sunny forever and I haven’t stopped sweating in months and at any given moment my current mental state is always ‘whatever emotion I’m experiencing’ + ‘fucking well too hot’, which naturally exacerbates every passing state of mind. If I’m mildly annoyed, the beating sun taunts me until I am wheezing with rage. If I am anxious, the piercing rays warp  my psyche into a quivering pretzel. I want some rain, man, and wind and clouds. Maybe a bit of sleet. Yeah, driving sleet, right in my face, stinging my cheeks, with gale force winds bowling me down a gleaming wet pavement. Ah, the dream.

In other, slightly more interesting news, Will, Robyn, Vic and Rob have now left Melbourne for Brisbane, so the happy little family I had here is now gone. Jeanne, Justine, Jeremy and I are all that remain of our weird gang.They didn’t get a great send off , bless them. We all met up for one last barbecue on the southern bank of the Yarra river, close to the Botanical Gardens, and it was wicked hot and to save money on proper alcohol we all brought boxes of goon to sup.

If you don’t know what goon is, it’s 4 or 5 litres of shitty wine contained within a silvery bag, which itself is housed within a cardboard box, and it’s usually around 11 or 12%. It is very sweet and easy to drink, and it’s packed with chemicals I guess, because if I have more than 4 glasses I go absolutely loopy and do terrible things. Many of my most muscular Australian regrets have occurred under the influence of lovely, awful goon.

Will said let’s get things started so we played drinking games from the off, and because goon is easy to quaff and light on the stomach we were downing cups like nobody’s business. And of course when you drink very quickly – and in the sun – and on an empty stomach – you get drunk in a rather spectacular fashion. It sneaks up on you and bear-hugs you from behind, like that naughty mate you had when you were younger; the one your parents didn’t like and you were always a little bit on edge around, but who used to give you the wildest memories.

We ate burgers but I don’t remember that at all  and next thing you know I’m bent double in a public toilet somewhere with my fingers down my throat, vomiting into a sink rather than the toilet because apparently in my drunken stupor I was still concerned about the toilet water splashing back over my clothes. So I filled the sink with vomit, then felt bad about it and spent the next fifteen minutes scooping vomit from the sink to the toilet, then washed my hands, flushed, checked my visage in the mirror and saw that I still looked fly as hell, and re-joined the party; it’s all about confidence, don’t you know?

By the time I make it back to the barbeque table and the beer pong, Will is asleep on the grass on his side, and he’s thrown up too and there are seagulls all around him, and I am beginning to think that we might have misjudged this one just a tad. Jez has been rinsed of all his cigarettes and Robyn is kneeling beside Will stroking his hair and dripping water into his vacant mouth from a plastic bottle like a boxing trainer nursing their punch-drunk protégé.

And the battery in the speaker was dying slowly but I wanted to dance, and I did a little Irish jig for approximately 0.3 seconds before I rolled my ankle horrendously and was incapacitated for the remainder of the afternoon – and I still am 8 days later, in fact. It hurt a lot and I lay down on the grass to recuperate and fell asleep, and when I awoke it was getting dark and Will and Robyn were gone already; Vic and Rob were leaving and saying their last goodbyes but I was too steaming and in agony to say anything more than a spluttered ‘bye’, seasoned with a limp smelly hug.

Then we packed up and headed home and poor old Jeanne was a crutch for her dick head boyfriend all the way back to Flinders Street Station, because he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. All in all, I’ve certainly attended leaving parties that were more refined. But hey, in a way it’s a pretty fitting note to end on. We had been doing that same thing – that is, drinking to excess in parks and bars and beaches across Melbourne – with the exact same group since October. Four months later and it’s all over, and it feels like it ended at the right time. All of us are ready for something new.

All of us are ready for something new, alright, and everybody is going to get it. Everybody except me, that is, who must stay behind and toil away in Melbourne to scrape together whatever money I can for Paris, or Berlin, or Lisbon, or London, or Strasbourg, or Leeds, or wherever the hell me and sweet Jeanne are going to live later this year. Three more weeks and the three J’s all leave Melbourne and I will be alone here, and it will be glum and lonely and I will almost definitely lose my mind again, but whatever.

These four months have been about as messy as they could be; despite all the chaos of Berlin, all the turmoil and that great big whirlpool of debauchery, I had a steady job, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. I had money and stability and the only difficulties I experienced were social and internal. Melbourne is the polar opposite. I’ve got Jeanne, I’ve got my mates, I’ve got my health and my sanity and my serotonin levels are, if not as stable as the average person’s, not entirely haywire. But work and money is rough. ‘Money comes and money goes’ is something I used to say back on the blueberry farm. But at the money it is going far more than it is coming. There just isn’t enough work to save anything.

I got really down about this last week and had a full on moping angsty-teen episode, with Jeanne stroking my back and calming me down and me lurching between ‘nobly accepting of my current penniless predicament’ and ‘pushing things over’. In the end I just gave up ranting and went to sleep, and in the morning things were better.

I decided that if Melbourne isn’t going to help me, that’s fine. I’ll do it myself. No full time work for backpackers? No shifts being doled out at the agencies? Fine. Fuck you Melbourne, I’ll do it myself. My ankle is still sprained and it hurts like a bitch to walk, but I’ve been labouring this week, building marquees for some festival near Federation Square. Earned around three hundred dollars there. It’s not a lot, but it’s something. Elsewhere I’ve been chasing freelance leads like a madman, arranging coffee shop meetings and putting together plans and schemes and busting out SEO overhauls and blog posts. I’ve taken cash in hand jobs from friends of friends, I’ve written websites for strangers, I’m signing up to new agencies on the daily. You name it, I’m doing it.

Everybody is going to leave soon and I will be alone, and if I want Paris with Jeanne, it’s not going to be easy. But fuck man, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

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