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120kms an hour on the wrong side of the road. Fuck I am stoked to finally be out of Sydney. The four of us have bailed from the metro in favour of a less constricting locale, headed as fast as possible to freedom. The farm. I pass a semi and swerve back into our lane. The headlights slice through hilly countryside as we speed on into the night.
My co-pilot is an over worked sound engineer. He jumps in the passenger seat with two beers and a smile. I tell him I don’t think I should have a drink this early in the trip. He tells me to shut up…. They’re both for him.
In the back I’ve got a journo and a banker. One of them has a pocket full of weed and feminine long hair. The other is a journo.
They are sitting either side of a case of beer which they are working on emptying.
Against Me! is the soundtrack to our drive as we rise into the mountains.
There is an air of anticipation in the car as we hurtle down the deteriorating one lane road. Our fellow journeymen have already arrived as they left the day before. I expect they will be sitting in front of the bonfire beers in hand by now. We however are still in the tiresome car trip phase of the story. Knowing they are relaxing while I am driving is making me a little jealous.
We are headed for the farm with urgency. I have worked a 65 hour week and am looking to blow of some steam. At least my passengers are getting to have a Friday arvo beer in the car. I am the responsible driver.
We make a stop so the banker can pick up some apple juice. He is convinced he’s been here before and bought the best apple juice of all time. I think he may be developing some sought of rain-man like savant obsession with apple beverages. We pull into to garage and he goes and quizzes the guy at the counter. The dude looks at him like he’s from another planet. He heads to the fridge and buys orange juice. Back in the car I ask him what happened to the apple juice. He stares at me blankly. His developing mental health problem may now be developed.
Back on the highway and we are making good time. We are getting close to the farm. The road kill is getting more frequent. Pink and brown nondescript piles of furry flesh line the road. On my last trip this way JC and I nearly totalled a wombat. We came over a ridge to see the poor bastard frozen in the headlights. He was deadly still as the reflection of our lights shone in his eyes. He would have been 3 ft tall and weighed a solid 80kg. I swerved onto the gravel in the shoulder to miss him, fish tailing down the highway. We missed him. That wombat would have fucked my day completely.
We arrive at the gate to the farm. I have now started a beer. We drive through the top paddock down the dirt road. I switch of my headlights for a second and the car slides through pitch black. I flick the lights back on just before we hit a cattle gate. My companions find this hilarious. We pull into the farm house. We have finally arrived.
The boys are playing poker at the kitchen table. They all have steely faces on as the river is placed on the table. The cards are seen. A winner is crowned. The tension in the air disintegrates and we are greeted warmly by our oldest friends. Outside its 9 degrees Celsius, but the kitchen stove is stoked with wood and an earthy heat permeates the room. The stress I have been carrying for the last 42 hours slides off my shoulders and out the door. A second beer and my eyes become heavy and relaxed.
Under the stars by the fireside I feel very small. The concerns of my working week fuel the fire and are reduced to ash. I start to regain perspective. I start to feel more like me again. I wonder whether my companions feel the same. There is an air of expectation and uncertainty that surrounds each one, a doubt that surrounds us. We each hunger for success but have yet to define what form our success might take. Without this definition we are really just chasing ghosts. We amass accomplishments, qualifications, we toil endlessly, but the ghost remains out of reach, intangible. Some are noticeably closer to an answer than others. I feel the furthest away, the least consistent. My fireside delirium swallows my thoughts as I close my eyes and breath out slowly.