Leftbank, Southbank

I passed the woman earlier, crossing the footbridge over the Yarra, trying to find somewhere to comfortably sit alone and pass some time. She stood out to me because of her clothing and demeanour, both strongly redolent of desperation. A good 10 years older than I, she seems, but dressed like a pre-pubescent girl in a short sundress with a sweetheart neckline, a lace headband decorating her ponytail – the very personification of mutton dressed as lamb. I scoffed internally, and continued on my search.

I back-tracked, eventually, and settled in a place that I had previously passed up. The searing sun made my spot almost unbearable, and as I scoured the balcony for a more suitable seat, there she was. She had beaten me here and taken the seat I most likely would have taken, given the chance.

I have been watching her for the better part of an hour, now. Watching her casual attempts to appear casual. I light a cigarette, even though I have supposedly quit and have no reason to have any on me, beside the fact that they give a lone drinker something to look engrossed with for five minutes at a time. She lights one too. Gives the balcony a nonchalant sweep of the eyes. Stretches her neck, tilts her head, lowers her eyes like a child. It takes someone like me to know how desperately she wants to be spoken to.

A stranger to me, and me a stranger in her town, I nonetheless feel as if I will always be a step behind her, unknowingly following her – finding her in the seat that I would have chosen for myself.

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MacDonalds, Wynyard Station, 11:30pm

I am seated at MacDonalds at Wynyard station at 11:30pm. The dress I’m wearing looks fantastic on me, apparently, it’s from Cue, but I didn’t pay for it – it was given to me, a classy hand-me-down. My shoes are so amazing that I cannot even last an entire night in them, they have been placed in a bag along with some Tupperware and a budget hair straightener which I am carrying home in a nondescript eco-friendly tote bag.

I had a good night tonight. This bank which my employer is apparently a client of did this thing which is designed to show its appreciation, booze, fancy chocolate, name-tag-wearing and hob-nobbing… I ended up in a bar with some drinks, some new friends, and a stupidly cute boy that… well…

“You’re gorgeous.”

“You see? It’s this thing about Sydney, we’re talking about how in *blah blah blah* it’s so competitive and so unreal, and yet you’ve just said that you think that I’m gorgeous and here I am pretending like it didn’t even happen, and… you think that I’m gorgeous?”

“Well yeah, I’ve been eyeing you off for the last couple of hours, thinking to myself, is she, isn’t she, I think that she is…”

“Ok, here’s the deal: you think I’m maybe gorgeous, I think you’re kind of adorable yourself. If you want to catch up again, have a drink, whatever, just ask – it’s that easy.”

I am seated at MacDonalds at Wynyard station at 12:07am. The dress I’m wearing looks fantastic on me, apparently… the overweight man behind me is wearing an over-sized tank with gaping arm holes. In Wynyard park, the happiest man I’ve seen all night is drinking out of a brown paper bag as he dances. His boom box is set to generic Top 40 lovepop, and he is accosting passersby with his angry rendition of an Ashlee Simpson song.

King Street, Newtown 11:45pm

Up ahead, in the distance, I see someone struggling under the weight of their own upper body. They’re either throwing up, taking a dump, or setting down something heavy. As I approach, the someone becomes a man, a bum, setting down a case of VB, and he is rambling and yelling incoherently into the empty street.

And yet as I walk past him, his words take on a perfect clarity: “How’s it ga’arn love?” A few steps further: “Where’s the party??”

There was all kinds of party going on just a few hours earlier, at a gathering that started out innoc – no, that’s a lie. It was never going to be innocent. I was fabulous, but now I’m just drunk. Drunk, and trying to find my way home.

His words fade back into obscurity as I leave them behind.