I’m on the coach down to Canberra for this year’s Noted writing festival, and we’re pulling into Canberra and I’m surprised by the rush of affection I have for the wide, tree lined streets and big blocky 1970s era buildings. I’ve been to Canberra a lot in the last few years, and it’s all been for good things. I’m starting to feel comfortable.
Canberra always makes me think of my old internet friend, Lani. She was someone I met from Aelyria, who came and stayed at my parent’s place when I was a teenager. Later, my mate Bob and I drove down to see her for her birthday. I want to say 18th birthday, but maybe it was her 21st. That party was my first real experience of the sheer and utter panic you get when you realise you’re stuck somewhere you truly don’t want to be. Lani’s friends were scary and standoffish, and had a weird fixation with making fun of my jeans. They were all wearing shorts. We also accidentally dropped our six-pack of craft beer directly into the esky, smashing a similar number of their VB’s. It was excruciating, and Lani became drunker and drunker, only able to spend fleeting amounts of incoherent time with us. It was then decided that we had to go to ‘the Civic’, which is the Canberran term for the part of the city which has night life. We plodded out there, and discovered that the party was only the entree of the horror. We were packed into a sweaty bar, and whenever a certain song came on, everyone had to drop their pants. We didn’t realise this – once again everyone was judging my pants. Canberra hates my pants.
By the end of the night, Lani had a huge fight with her boyfriend, and drove off in a friend’s car. We were supposed to stay at her boyfriend’s house, but didn’t particularly feel welcome there anymore. Luckily we had discovered another friend from Aelyria in Canberra, and stayed at her parent’s house for the night, which was full of dinosaur bones.
We stayed in touch with Lani for ages after that, seeing her a handful of times. One of the last times we went to a German beerhouse and drank litre steins and then we all vomited all over the train. It was lovely.
Anyway, I really like Canberra now.