Also known as Brisbane. I don’t know if it was the first place that had casinos in Australia, but it was the first place to do it with neon lights, and in the world of gambling, it’s no fun losing your Hawaiian shirt unless it’s under a blaring rainbow of shifting Miami Vice hues.
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, the state north of New South Wales. Since 80% of the population live on the rim of the country and Queensland is pretty straight up and down till you hit the pointy bit at the top, we kind of think of Queensland as one long beach with some banana plantations and a few cane fields.
Brisbane is the glittery, shiny capital that for years was the outpost of gambling in Australia. Take Las Vegas, roll it out into a thin strip then give it a beach. Tah-dah! Brisbane!
I was back for the birthday of Ross, a very old mate. Not as in he is old, but as in we’ve known each other for a long time. Although, I wondered at times whether I had jumped a time machine and headed back ten years.
His party was poolside at one of the luxury condos that line the beach. When they do those Australian Tourism ads and there’s the helicopter shot that weaves through the Twelve Apostles, wave battered red rock pillars off the coast of Australia. Nice but, they really should substitute them for the pastel towers of Brissie condos. Because nothing makes an Australian heart soar like a glimpse of Gold Coast Real Estate.
So my family and I turn up and it was literally like jumping back a decade or so, to when Ross and I were dating. There was a sea of faces that I amazingly could remember all the names for. And the shock of seeing ten years go by in a clink of a cocktail glass.
I thank every god in the sky for my daily regimen of Jurlique. I don’t stretch as much as I should, I could do yoga everyday but seven days a week I will cleanse tone and moisturize, like the vain, stiff creature I am.
But you know what, we were all holding up pretty well, especially Brad.
Brad Roberts. The last time I saw Brad, was in a café in Sydney 12 years ago. And there he was, looking less like a boy and more like a man. (Editors note: That last line sounds better than it reads. When I say it, it’s with my Marlboro Man voice. Try it again with an imaginary pack of 100s in your hand.)
The French probably have a couple of words for a friend you meet again. I guess maybe another 7 or so words for a friend you meet again and then fight with. And at least a dozen for a friend that you meet again, have a wild passionate, but short-lived affair with, think about as you smoke endless cigarettes in cafes before you decide to end it with a long drawn out look that means little to anyone but the most ardent devotees of French Cinema.
But it has occurred to me that there is no word in the English language for that wonderful moment, when you unexpectedly meet a friend again, that you haven’t seen in ages and you pick up the conversation like it was yesterday.
Re-friend, remeet, reacquaint; none seem to cut the mustard. And you know what, I’m stumped for once. Not from the neons, but basking in the warm light of Brad.
He invites me to stay after the party with him in Brisbane for a few days and we spend it swimming in a pool of the most wonderful conversations. Reflections of our lives spent up and down Oxford St in Sydney, old boyfriends, jobs, countries, moves to new cities and all with the wisdom of ten years of hindsight and generally over excellent bottles of red.
Our trip down memory lane reminded me of every reason why I loved Australia so hard and for so long.
And struggle as I might to find a great word for it, this moment, this meeting, it would involve a pun. And there are some things that happen that are so wonderful, I’d cheapen it with a gag. Forgive me my Hallmark moment.