NYWF16 – Monday

I can feel NYWF beginning to wear off; like Cinderella as her clothes turn to rags at the hems. Still, on Monday morning I feel better than I probably have any right to.

We are meant to be out of our place by 10am but by then Tom and Alex are barely conscious. The house is clean but we are not heading out the door anytime soon. I go next door to reception and they are lovely and give us another hour, no problem. I ask about booking the place again for next year, already wishing to be back.
I make more tea. Casey comes over with his bags to sit on our couch. Tom has a shower. Alex plays The Boys Are Back In Town as loudly as his laptop speakers will allow and dances around the lounge room. 
Eventually we tumble blearily into the sunshine. Beth and Lauretta arrive and we load our bags into Beth’s boot for safe keeping and walk in the direction of Good Brother (the only place reliably open on the public holiday). We text everyone who is still in town and tell them we are going to Good Brother.

Photo by Beth
At Good Brother there are no tables because everyone is at Good Brother because nowhere else is open on the public holiday. We order takeaway and go to the park. This is actually a much better idea that sitting at the café anyway. The park is good. We collapse on the hill, under a sprawling fig tree, eating toasties and drinking large drinks and talking nonsense.
Casey does a dramatic reading of the Wikipedia page of slang names for Australian money. Beth does a short dance on the large, circular stage at the bottom of the hill. It looks like maybe there was a gazebo there once but now it is just a circle of bricks. Casey decides he will walk around the circle of bricks and begins taking bets about how many feet it is in circumference. Very quickly this becomes a serious matter and I have to write down what everyone’s bets are. When we are all agreed, Casey walks around the circle very carefully, counting loudly. It is very tense. There is a lot of shouting and cheering. My guess was closest, but we give up caring about who wins as soon as someone has won. Everyone lazily takes photos and selfies, because the light is nice and there are not many chances left. Fin and I accidentally create a video diptych: Alex and Beth falling down the hill and Casey falling down the hill. I will watch these videos over and over to cheer myself up in the following weeks. 

I don’t want this to be over. I want us to sit on this hill in this sunshine forever. The sadness of leaving and ending is starting to claw at the edges of my brain and I don’t want to let it, not yet. I don’t want to think about how long it will be before I can lie in the sun with these people. It isn’t over. I don’t want it to to be over. But then Duncan and Lauretta start the drive back to Canberra. And Lex and Jimmy head off in their van. And Sophie and Seband Casey start looking up the trains to Sydney. And it comes over all blustery and overcast and suddenly the sun is gone too.
There are hugs and goodbyes and I try to forget, for a little longer, that it will be a full year before we are back in Newcastle together. I don’t want to leave this city.

We go to Beth’s and Beth makes tea. I drink cup after cup of peppermint from my favourite of Beth’s mugs. Our Harry Potter book club have an IRL meeting. Fin (the only one of us reading for the first time) is obsessed with Percy for some reason and so we spend a long time constructing head canon to excuse Percy’s behaviour in Order of the Phoenix. We are probably too successful and all get sad for Percy (a fun new way to experience HP).
Too soon is it time for our plane. I hug beccamarsh and it isn’t so hard to say goodbye because in less than a month she will come visit. I hug Fin but I will see him at Christmas. We load into Beth’s car and I will have to say goodbye to Beth soon too. I used to work near the airport and so this drive is almost achingly familiar. I didn’t like that job, but I still like this drive – past the ocean and through the coal fields and into the bush. 
At the airport we buy nuggets. There are half a dozen other people on our plane but we’re all very tired so we mostly wave at each other and eat our respective nuggets. There are few things better for bringing you back to the harshness of reality than an airport. 
Alex and I talk for the whole flight. We debrief, catching up on things we missed. Talking to each other only in snatches all weekend, I realise how much I rely on Alex. How much I value talking to him before I fall asleep and when I get home and on the mornings we sleep in. Talking to him is one of my favourite things.

Melbourne is cold. Mercifully it is not rainy, or I might have turned around and got straight back on the plane. I make Vegemite pasta for dinner – butter and Vegemite and spaghetti and cheese. It helps but it doesn’t stop the aching comedown. I miss my cute pals. I don’t know how long it will be until I will see most of them again. I message my cute pals because if you can’t lie together in the sunshine at least you can DM before you fall asleep. Life goes on.  

Thursday – Friday – Saturday – Sunday – Monday – Comedown

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Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year