At uni, the people who’d done the most drugs were from the country – from small towns where there was nothing else to do. This is what they were doing while I was out bowling. This is what they were doing while I was drinking someone’s mum’s Baileys, thinking I was cool.
I liked saying I’d never lived anywhere with less than a million people. Being a city girl made me think I was cool. But the country kids had done more, seen more, obliterated more. In the country – at least, it seemed to me – life got unbearable faster.
As an adult, driving into a country town makes me start to forget all that. I’m old enough to marvel at the red and yellow of autumn. I’m old enough to revel in the golden light of dusk. To notice the sun sinking low behind the hillside, to stop and gaze at the long shadows it casts. To talk about how nice it is to have a break from the city. To romanticise.
Our motel has a liquid soap dispenser in the shower and a sign asking us to be patient with the hot water. But when it comes it’s scorching, hot enough to wash the city right off.
I worry we’ll stand out – the non-locals. But no one sees us sitting in the corner. And as the night gets later, the crowds keep coming. Their hugs are aggressive – the boys cling too long to the girls, to each other, hands in fists. Espresso martinis are cheap but less than half of them are drinking. They’re drunk though, pre-drinks, bottles at home. This is the end of the crawl.
Bar stools keep falling over. People too. Occasionally they barricade the door to stop someone new from entering. Their age range varies by a couple of decades – not school mates, just small town. Everyone knows everyone. The staff stare but stay behind the bar, a comfortable distance.
The threat of violence hangs in the air. A drink knocked over. Another bar stool. A fist-hug held too long. It’s exciting, watching it unfold from our corner. If we just stay long enough there’ll be a fight. After all, this is Saturday night. And ritual must be observed.
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