I hate making plans that involve trying to get a group of people together. I do enjoy having full control of deciding who is involved in said plans. Especially when it involves going away for more than 48 hours with the chosen people. This is not a hollywood movie where the tight group of friends who have known each other since high school decide to have one last hurrah before getting married or something. I don’t even have friends from university that I see regularly. I feel its a sign of a less than adventurous spirit if your friendship groups have not evolved or shifted since your early teens. I understand that some people have not had the opportunity to go far from home due to family commitments and an assortment of circumstances outside of their control that inhibit their ability to go of and reinvent themselves like I have been able to do.
My partner did most of the organizing for the weekend including food preperation. The great thing about going away with people who are over 30 is that the focus is no longer on only the alcohol. There was alcohol. We had wine and gin and whisky but most of it was bought back home.
There was eight of us staying in a big house overlooking Kennet River and you could hear the ocean from every room. Within an hour of arriving and unloading the car, the first of us to arrive to arrive: myself, my partner and my zine making collaborator and friend Miranda aka MCDrawn were presented with some nature up close and personal on the balcony were two cockatoos. We watched them as we set up cheese and wine ( we ate so much cheese over the weekend). We took pictures as people who exist in inner city suburbs of Melbourne will do. As we ate cheese and watched them fascinated the two birds took thier relationship to the next level. The sexy level. The cockatoos had sex on the balcony and it did not seem to take them very long at all. Discussion turned to the question of whether birds have sex for pleasure. We did not come to a definitive conclusion.
We ate the vegetarian lasagne my partner made the night before after work for dinner with wine as the ocean crashed and music played softy ion the back round as we chatted and waited for our last two friends to come.
When My poetry book club friend and quiet friend who never talks arrived dinner was over and we sat around all together on couches with a coffee table laden with cheese and crackers and fruit and wine as we took turns naming our top three animals. The game was instigated by Phil a high school teacher and year 12 co ordinator. My top animals were Quokkas, Otters and Main Coon cats. Once we had all named our top three animals and they were written down, we had to explain why we had chosen each animal. After that Phil explained that the first animal and why we liked it was how we saw ourselves. The second animal love reasons were how others see us and the final animal love reasons were how we actually are.
It took me a while to get the Main Coon name of my third animal as I didn’t know it I only knew how to explain it as a large lion like cat as it had what looked a bit like a lions main thus living it a certain amount of regal dignity. My partner showed me pictures of people with their pet Main Coons held in their arms for scale. The poor cats looked uncomfortable and displeased to be used for what was referred to as ”for scale photos.”
”I don’t need humans for reference.” I declare impatiently. ”These cats are amazing on their own merit.”
‘I love Quokkas because they are effortlessly happy and incredibly cute with tiny paws and adoreable little faces.’ I explain with a sense of wistful envy at the thought of being as effortlessly happy as the Quokka. It turns out this is apparently how I see myself.
Otters I love because they hold hands while they sleep so as not to get washed awayu as they sleep. This may or may not be true but its an idea that has somehow lodged in my brain and I don’t want to ruin it with fact checking. I love otters because they seem to be loyal and small and sleek little cuties. ”They are also rapists” my partner says. ”Thats obviously not why I love them.” I say. ”Can we project human morality onto the actions of animals?” Someone asks. Thanks to my justification of loving Otters it turns out people see me as adorable and partial to holding hands while sleeping so as not to get washed away by strong currents. I am seen as a small sleek cutie. I think that it is important to note that you do not know that your justifications are going to be used to psychoanalyse you when you are giving them. That part of the game comes after everyone has finished justifying their loves.
My Main Coon justifications are how I actually am: large and fluffy with a regal main and needing no humans for reference.
One of my partners favourite animals is a tiny shrimp that can kill with a snap of its claw that makes a sound up to 210 decibels. The Shrimp is named after Pink Floyd: Synalpheus pinkfloydi. It was their second favourite animal so his justification is how people see him: able to stun and kill with sound. Accurate to a point as he is a brilliant guitar player.
The next day starts with pancakes and coffee. My friends and I take it easy by enjoying the open endedness of the day: reading on the patio, listening to music, going down to the beach and feeling the sand between my toes, exploring rock pools. The sun comes out and goes behind clouds and then returns. It is perfect beach weather for people who do not enjoy the type of beach weather most Australians are considered to enjoy, the type that involves summer sun and wearing bikinis and roasting beneath midday heat: No thank you. Some sun with cold breeze is preferred. The weekend delivered.
I watch my partner on the beach with his camera and taking photos of our friends and feel something swell up inside me like the waves as they crash on the shore and the water runs up to tease my bare toes and shock me with the coldness that is not unpleasant but more cleansing and a reminder that I am alive. I run up to him and wrap my arms around his torso.
That night we eat hand made wontons and noodles. My partner and his cousin spend ages making the wontons a process I am too impatient for. My partner gets the wood fire going and its burns away in the background making thos wood burning sounds and crackles that remind me of the wintyer night on the farm as a child when Dad would be on a no television kick and make us sit together in the living room in silence listening to the sound of the wood fire burning as the winter wind gusted outside and blew against the poor cows in the paddocks.
After dinner there is more snacks: cheese and bread and sugary treats such as chocolate and biscuits and more chocolate. We play Cards against Humanity and I win. This is unexpected as I usually don’t care about games but for some reason I took ages each turn to decide on what card to put down.
While away we sleep with no phones or other electrical items in the bedroom with us. We both go to bed at the same time unlike when at home. Here at the beach house we talk more before going to sleep. This is lovely and a reminder of what gets forgotten in the city. There is so much I don’t tell him. I wriggle closer to his sleeping body and reach for his hand.