Something To Run To.

Today in Toronto, the temperature broke into single positive digits. While often content to nary leave the house, the radiance of a sunny day was enough pull for me to do it. I put out a Facebook call for anyone wanting to grab coffee or a meal. Nobody was taking me up on the offer, so I pottered about the house for a bit. I told myself it’d be in my best interests to go for a run. Instead I procrastinated a bunch. Why get outside if the internet was inside? There was food in the fridge and the apartment was warm. I accomplished very little, but told myself things would turn around.

A friend chimed in and said she was going to yoga, but would be free afterwards. I suggested grabbing a meal and she was keen. I thought about doing my jog to work up an appetite. I thought about going for the run, then having to come back, shower and change. It all seemed like a lot. Then I realised she’d be coming from physical work. She’d still be in workout clothes. There was no cause for me to stand on ceremony. How far was her yoga studio? I looked it up and it was all of 5.5km. Entirely joggable. I could be fun and functional all in one. I plotted my route then got garbed up in multiple layers. At four degrees, if I layered up enough I wouldn’t have to bring a coat. A thermal top, long sleeved shirt and sweatshirt later, I was sweating indoors. Perfect.

The sun was beating down and smiles were out. It’s crazy how much the weather affects the mood on the street. People jovially walking dogs, grabbing coffee. It was the utter distillation of the gentrification dream. I scrolled through my iPod and found Foo Fighters. Back in my teenage rock/metal phase, I fucking adored the Foo Fighters. It’d been long enough since I last heard Colour and the Shape, but it was so full of singles it was basically a greatest hits compilation.

Everything clicked. I’d adequately stretched and had no significant muscle soreness. My ankles weren’t tight, for once. I zipped along the footpath making great time. I had an awesome flow through traffic lights and ended up stopping when I coincidentally could use a short rest. I nipped through Bellwoods and got in some casual dog-watching. Like any time where the temperature goes above zero, it was packed out. When I turned onto Queen Street, suddenly the sidewalks were packed. I still wanted to keep up the pace, so it became a little mini-game. Not to dissimilar from parkour, I bobbed and weaved, dodging people (without cutting too close and making them uncomfortable) to keep my speed unimpeded. I went around them or sidestepped into the gap between cars and the gutter. I made good time and despite the traffic, still got there in under half an hour.

This isn’t a new phenomena, but I hope I never take my mobility for granted. The concept that somewhere is very easily run-able if it’s under 6k is amazing and I’m so fortunate that’s the case. It changes the way I see the city, enabling me to get around in a more flexible fashion. I get why cycling ends up being so cultish, in that it totally opens up the urban sprawl. You’re not bound by the particular grid and can go hard on Pythagorean theory. The neighbourhoods feel different when you’re seeing them from the ground. When your agility is guiding you, it’s freeing. You feel indomitable.


If you don’t stand for Summer, you’ll Fall for Winter. Spring back the clocks?

So here’s a thing. I’ve always desperately wanted to do stand-up. I did it a bunch before I left for Canada, then a couple of times while I was travelling through. I never did well. I got disheartened, then scared to get back up. The honest truth is I was going about it all wrong. The “way to do” stand-up is to write a couple of jokes and refine them, editing to find the funny in your concept and tweaking them over time as you work on the right delivery, wording, etc. Instead, I’d write five minutes, it wouldn’t work well (because I was trying it for the first-third time) and I’d discard it to write another five. Accordingly, I was getting the response I deserved. Eventually I threw in the towel. For years now I’ve been secretly ashamed and resentful of myself for giving up. I’ve felt cowardly and had a hard time reconciling that if I’d just stuck with it through the hard parts, by now I’d be better regardless. It’s been the kind of thing that with no exaggeration I’d think about at least once a week, going back to try again. Fear told me no and I believed it had my best interests at heart. Or it was easier to do nothing than to try, which is a whole different kind of seductive.

On this holiday, my comedian friend said she was curious about trying an open mic in a new city. I pondered out loud about whether I should give it a try. She and my other friend couldn’t have been more supportive. “Sure”, she said “go write some jokes”. Simple as that. It was weird too, but in her cavalier delivery of those words there was something I heard that may or may not have been intentional. She said it so matter of factly. It sounded like she didn’t for a second entertain the notion that I wasn’t fully capable of writing jokes. So I chose to believe her. I went off to write and wrote a ton. There was so much waffling. I knew though, that I had the kernels of some decent jokes once I cut out the chaff. Even better, I’d worked within a structure I’d always wanted to replicate, but never had. You know when a comedian does the punchline and the room laughs, then it goes quiet? It’s like “well, that was a funny joke”, then instead of moving onto the next joke they tag with the real punchline, which is even funnier because it defies the room’s expectations of structure? Well I wrote some of those, and if felt so goddamn good to finally be able to see how that worked as opposed to only reaching that first stage. I looked at my page. I had material. I got excited. I woke up at 6am the next morning, too excited and nervous to sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then as the night approached, fear crept back on in. I thought about how badly I’d feel if I tried and failed, See, until I did it I existed in this Schroedinger’s Cat style situation. I didn’t know that I could do it until I tried, but at the same time it wasn’t confirmed that I couldn’t do it. If I did it and sucked, that was it. If I never tried, in some twisted logic, I could never fail. I tried to make excuses and mentally talked myself out of it. I implored my friends to talk me out of it. They wouldn’t. We went.

I was nervous and shakey, which was only exacerbated when the host said sets were three minutes long. Back in Toronto most open mics have five minute sets. ‘That’s like one of my jokes’, I thought. I had three long jokes I wanted to try. I resolved not to rush, but to accept that I I would do the one joke and take my time with it, find the correct cadence.

Honestly, the set went better than I could’ve hoped. I was nervous, but my delivery felt natural and even. The structure and lead in felt right. They were laughing in the right places. It’s not like I ever expected I’d crush, but I had a bunch of big laughs and the joke I really liked got the whole room cracking up. They flashed the light at two minutes and I realised I was rounding off the end of my joke, that there was no way I could fit another one in. That felt good enough for me and I was stoked to get in the whole joke at an even pace, without rushing.

It felt so amazing to have faced my significant fears. I was proud of myself for getting up and overjoyed to have done it. Even now, the morning after, I still feel like I’m glowing. It’s probably just sunburn, but maybe I sunburned my heart, y’know? This holiday has been outstanding. I’ve enjoyed the pace, my friends and I have really complementary travel styles. We’ve done so much cool shit, but this is one of my favourite memories from it hands down.

The idea was to get intoxicated, not poisoned.

Oh what a night! Is what I’d say if we hadn’t all spent it writhing around with stomach pain. Our day was fantastic, the night was an exhibition in food poisoning 101. Our delicious streetside burgers from the suspiciously sparsely named “Burger Bar” got the better of us. Pity, ’cause they were both cheap and abundantly tasty. I guess the greater cost was unseen. Our reactions ranged from repeated vomiting, to sweating and cradling our bellies. I either spent the night sleeping or hallucinating. I’m not sure. In any case, I feel oddly refreshed this morning. Maybe it’s steadfast determination made manifest. Today we’ll bounce back. Today is Barbecue Day and by God I’m more hungry for ribs than Eve.

Yesterday was Day Drunk Day, a theme we Krushed, Killed ‘n’ Destroyed like a nice 90s video game. Starting in the Rainey Street district, everything looked oddly deserted. Another bar hop area, it was all patios and lawn games, The sky was overcast and grey, dampening the atmosphere. Still, drinking was our prerogative and we were gonna make it happen. As we walked further down the street, we noticed more people. We heard music, a jazzy ensemble playing popular covers. The place, Bangers, was pumping. The line stretched down the street. We joined, until a staff member told the line there was a three hour wait for brunch. Holy shit. Maybe we’d grab something quick elsewhere, then come back for the atmos. We picked up food truck barbecue sandwiches (mine was stacked with buttery fall-apart brisket and thick spicy sausage) then headed in.

Here’s the thing about Bangers, it was go big or go home. Their trademark was colossal brunch and Manmosas. A 1 litre mimosa containing an entire bottle of champagne. It was so potent that they refused to sell it to anyone who hadn’t ordered a full plate of food. They also had a tap wall of beer with a selection of around 60 or so beers. Crazy, creative beer catalogued into sections like “light and refreshing”, “dark and malty”, “Belgian and farmhouse” and “Nitro”. My friend grabbed a sake/pizza flavoured beer, which was oddly accurate though too savoury for my palate. Anything under 5.5% alcohol volume they’d also serve in a litre jug. Good times guaranteed. The band played and they were fucking fantastic. Lively and talented, neat twists on songs we all knew. There were bridal parties everywhere with themed shirts (which, I dunno, seems to be a Very Austin Thing). So many friendly dogs (I met a wonderfully docile and soft Great Dane called Nico). The sun came out and we had a blast dancing along. The Buzz was true and our moments felt full of love. After things quietened down, our stomachs full of beer, and hearts filled with joy, we headed out to see what the rest of day would bring.

We had a couple of impromptu photo shoots along the way, goofing about as was our way. I had my heart set on Easy Tiger Bakery, ’cause I love bakeries. I was hoping to find a cute little store with nice chocolate chip cookies or something. We wandered along to our map’s instructions and found the place. It was nothing we expected and everything we didn’t know we’d wanted. A big canal ran alongside an outdoor courtyard filled with ping pong tables. The bakery also had a full beer hall, and here I was just wanting a cookie. I ordered a chocolate chunk cookie and lost my mind. So, back home in New Zealand we have this cookie brand called Cookie Time. They’re large cookies with a crispy exterior, soft interior and big chunks of chocolate. They’re one of my all time top favourite things, and utterly remarkable for a mass produced product. This Chocolate Chunk cookie was a near perfect recreation of a Cookie Time, but also freshly baked. I found my bliss. There was no way the day could get better from there on out. I’d reached peak holiday.

Then we found our new plateau. We dithered around trying to figure out what to do, while overly accommodating one another. The result was us getting a little pissy and nothing getting done. One of us wanted to see the Capitol, but also get goofy tourist shirts. I wanted to find cheap drinks. My friend was saying we should get the drinks I wanted, while I wanted her to have her shirts and Capitol building experience. Canadian politeness, eh? We’d passed a bar earlier where everyone inside shouted at us to come inside. “TWO DOLLAR DRINKS” they’d yell. “COME ON IN”. We’d learned in school not to bow to peer pressure, so we told them maybe we’d come back later and walked on by. After my friend and I argued about why it was better to accommodate the other, our fellow friend took executive decision and walked back to the peer pressure bar. It was settled.

Turns out peer pressure was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. The $2.25 drinks were decided by big Wheel of Fortune style wheels above the bar. It cost money to spin the wheel, which would change the drink affected by the wheel. One wheel for beer, one for shots and one for cocktails. The cocktail on offer was a $2.25 Bacardi Mai Tai, so we figured there wasn’t a lot to lose. EXCEPT OUR MINDS, it turns out. The drinks were delicious and the bartender was a great bloke. He was this super down to earth guy and we all had a rad time chatting to him. One drink stretched into seven or eight as others flooded into the bar. The crowd were good hearted locals and it was interesting hearing their perspectives. The kind of people whose political views were so different to our own, but what was interesting was how little that got in the way of communication.

We really noticed that while people in America hold steadfastly different views, they steadfastly defend the right of everyone to have their own views. It’s such a staunchly individualist society where people care about their right to live or die by their own ability to take care of themselves. People loathe the concept of paying into a system of healthcare where your money goes to other people. It’s anethma to them because the belief is that if you can’t support yourself, you don’t deserve to be helped. The American Dream says that everyone is entitled to reach heaven if they can get themselves there. It’s embodied in tipping, for instance, which is predicated on the notion that the better you are at making people feel welcome, the more you deserve. The satisfaction isn’t in doing a job well, but in immediate gratification for your work.

To be clear, I couldn’t disagree more. The three of us listened to these views respectfully, then told them precisely how and why our more “socialist” society worked for us. How we felt okay about paying more in taxes so that everyone could access the system. That we earnestly believed that people’s lives shouldn’t be ruined or ended because of broken structures. The concept of someone needing to choose between going to the doctor or not leaving their family in debt was inhumane. I hope some of the message got through to them, but who knows. In any case, we were drunk as skunks when we followed one of our new friends to the fateful Bad End of Burger Bar. We all know how that turned out. Or at least, I did this morning.

Oh, and The Curse of Cookie Monster has finally worn off. I’m back to brown town. Barbecue Day is truly Hashtag Blessed.


You know what? It IS a good morning. Thanks for asking. I’m fresh faced after a night out on the town. I can confidently say that I’m having a capitol time here in Austin. As soon as we stepped off the bus the smell of barbecue was both immediate and arresting. I think that’s what “living your best life” is. Everything here is enormous, both in value and impression. I’m sitting in Summer Moon cafe enjoying a colossal 20 oz Summermoon, their signature drink. It has a quad shot and it was all of $6. Ridiculous. It’s something I always forget about when in the states. Portions. We bought a couple of $5 happy hour “appies” and they were basically full meals. Two sliders and fries, a chunky slab of mixed cerviche/avocado with a side of nacho chips. Gargantuan. Food is abundant and inexpensive. Do I have to ever leave?

The drinks are STRONG too. I chatted with our server about them. I told her back in NZ, a double shot was standard. In Canada a single shot is the go-to. How was the US in this equation, I asked. “Oh, they’re single pours” she assured me. “Our barman just happens to have a heavy hand.” According to the rest of the night, Austinites just have heavy hands. We met many heavy handed bartenders, like the one making White Russians for my friend. “We’re out of cream” he said “so I’ll just use baileys instead if you don’t mind.” My friend very much did not mind, so the bartender handed him a cup of straight liquor. Yeah, we had a night. Happy Hour is a revelation here. Cheap mixed drinks EVERYWHERE. Lots of snacks and apps. The locals come out and they’re chatty. It’s the best. After some hectic afternoon drinking last night we settled in at The Ginger Man, a quiet and comfy craft beer bar. A huge variety of international beer, big leather couches and most importantly, a dart board. The three of us spent hours playing Around the World and getting to know whatever locals stuck around the bar. There was a dude on a date who started jokingly (but maybe not?) accusing me of stealing his date. Odd, I was chatting with the two of them, zero ulterior motive. I dunno, she seemed to be enjoying herself hanging out with the three of us, but he decided to call it and take her with him. There was some older British/American lady who ended up bringing over her entourage to all hang out. It was fantastic. They were all so friendly and she was a fun, punchy artist with a starfucker streak. She was telling us where to go to meet Mike Judge, his favourite bar wasn’t from our Air BnB. Then she casually mentioned knowing Richard Linklater and my brain kind of broke. She offered to take us all fo a drive out of Austin central if we wanted, to get barbecue at this great place just outside town. It felt like a super genuine offer. Her husband was super into architecture and told me about this place called Soane House to check out on my impending London holiday. We were having a fucking blast, then decided to hip hop on out of there and off to a dance night at a messy student bar. 10/10, exactly the kind of night I wanted.

I guess it’s worth mentioning my travel companions. They’re a couple and honestly, I fucking adore them. They’re excellent to travel with. We’re all pretty easy going and there’s a pervasive atmosphere of “greenlighting” going on. If anyone ever wants to have an experience, the rest of us do what we can to accommodate them and make that experience happen. We’re all close enough that we can speak honestly and bluntly if need be. We’re having good emotional check ins and helping to facilitate everyone enjoying their holiday to the max (like we used to back in the 90s. Remember taking things to the max? It was radical). They’re both sharp as a tack, witty and clever. He has this natural gift with words and they both have immense emotional aptitude. She’s a comic and they’re both unbelievably funny. We’re all just doing bits and callbacks constantly. It’s absurd. Tossing out malafors and messing with protracted idioms, it’s getting gloriously bizarre. Holy fuck am I ever happy right now.

More than anything, my stomach’s dreams are coming true constantly. Yesterday we had the best tacos I’ve had in my life. One was a shrimp taco slathered in proprietary fish sauce. The other was a diabolically hot jerk chicken and mango one. Here in Austin there’s a taco spot on every block. Some have several. Torchy’s Tacos have set a high bar. Let’s see if anything’s gonna clear it. I also think my central character development through the trip is gonna be understanding and setting my own limitations. I think I discovered one of those boundaries at a bakery yesterday. I was taken by this enormous and elaborate Cookie Monster concoction. It was constructed of two chocolate chip cookies with a large dollop of whipped cream in between. The top was adorned with what I assumed was some kind of blue fondant, but happened to be more whipped cream. Enough to make the word “excessive” an understatement. I assumed Cookie Monster’s eyes would be marshmallows or something. NOPE. More whipped cream. I was a whirling dervish of stray blue cream, which got fucking everywhere. My hands were stained, my teeth discoloured and my tongue looked like a giraffe’s. It was brutal. Blue-tal? I knew it was too much before I bought it. I was certain it was too much when I set it down in front of me. The first bite assured me I was making a mistake. The beard full of blue whipped cream only brought it home. Before I even finished the first cookie I knew I’d feel awful if I proceeded further. Not having anything to prove, I should’ve quit while I was ahead. Being me, of course I didn’t. I had so much fucking sugar that I felt like a total mess. Underslept, overfed and wired on coffee, I was trash incarnate. It was wonderful.

This morning my poo was a toxic forest green. I think Cookie Monster may have impregnated me with a weird alien foetus. Hey, we’re in Austin. The city motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” I’m only following the imperative.

Wait, was EVERYONE hitting on me?

At the airport. Everyone seems to be super stressed or argumentative. I’ve heard yelling erupt from all around me since I’ve walked i the building. Some American dude grumbling about why he had to wait in line if he had a US passport, a bearded ponytail dude raising his voice at his adult bearded ponytail son, telling him never to ask him for money again. Some guy whining at his wife for bringing him the wrong sandwich. Man, people’s lives are tough.
Mine? Mine’s great. I have zero cares in the world. I’m characteristically too early for my flight. It’s farcical to the point where the flight before ours is still waiting to leave, yet here I sit in the gate. The seats are wide and comfy, what’s not to like? I think for many people travel’s a stressful experience. I guess I can understand why, but it rarely presents that way for me. I love travel. I love travel in the way I did as a child. When I used to be too excited to sleep the night before a flight. Let’s be clear, I’m still too excited to sleep the night before a flight, but the drugs have gotten better since I was a kid. I couldn’t just knock myself out with melatonin. I find it hard to be upset if I’m hours away to being in the air. There’s so much promise in my future that dampening it with a dour outlook seems absurd. Even if things aren’t 100% perfect, by the very nature of being in an abnormal series of events they may as well be.
I think perception colours more than we give it credit for. Here I am, having the time of my life. Maybe others in my position wouldn’t be. There were lines at customs. I waited. They abated. The lady in front of me used four plastic containers and I only had one. The rest were held up. It was fine. I put my bag on and waited for more to arrive for my electronics. The clerk took my boarding pass and I chilled. Things would happen when they needed to. How odd that most people’s stress central is my zen. I got stopped and patted down. It got frisky. tapped down all over, dude lifted my shirt and everything. The funny part was that I forgot to take off my belt before walking through the scanner. I walked through the scanner and it beeped. I asked the dude if I’d need to take off my belt. He nodded. I took it off and halfway through he was all “wait, not yet”. I figured I’d mostly taken it off by then, I may as well finish. Then he made me hold it in my hand while he continued the proceedings. I had to lift one foot at a time and turn around, all while holding this belt in my outstretched hand. It was all kinds of goofy. The dude who checked my bags was friendly and chatty. It went a long way. He noticed a condom on the floor and asked “yo dude, did you drop that?” I looked at it, looked back at him and quirked an eyebrow “nope. It’s not a magnum.” Good, honest, silly fun.
When I got into the declaration section, I got pulled aside for declaring nuts, meat, animal by-products, etc. All because I was declaring a chicken sandwich. Frankly after keto I’m excited enough about eating bread again that I’d declare “CHICKEEEEEN SAAAAANDWIIIIICH” from the rooftops if I had the chance. In line I met an Aussie dude who introduced himself. I don’t know how he knew, but to be honest I’m enough of a chatterbox that he probably heard me asking someone a question in another line. It took all of 20 seconds for us to discover a mutual friend. He was going to LA for a job interview. Then some dude up front asked if anyone was travelling on a US or Canadian passport and I put my hand up. I got pulled ahead of line and wished my brief friend good luck on his job interview.
My friends are on their way to the airport. The only reason I’m here so early is I got bored at work. I decided to just walk out the door without saying goodbye. Instantly I was on holiday. You know, I might be here early enough to have an airport beer. Yeah, that sounds nice.
It was swell chatting folks, I’m gonna grab a beer.

Does Sir Love-A-Lot wear a suit of Amour?

Let’s make this snappy. I feel like over the past few days I’ve had a couple of decent entries. Clearly that’s not sustainable, so I’m here to bring that crashing spectacularly to the ground. It’s Valentines Day, but I can’t really be bothered doing a Valentines Day entry this year. Here’s me not doing a Valentines Day entry.

I remember doing a Valentines day entry way back when I had my shitty .tk site. I was in my rebellious teenage iconoclast phase. A phase I may well still be in. How long does a phase last before you realise it’s just an aspect of your personality? Life’s just a phase, when you think about it. Anyway, I remember throwing down some mad beef with the crass consumerism of Valentines Day. It’s just a Hallmark Holiday I said. Something of that like (but not of that love. Not today). I think the sentiment I expressed was something dumb and hokey like Love is something we should be doing every day. Love touches the way we interact with the world. That which we hold dearest in our manner of both filtering information and outputting intention. To choose one day to celebrate love is as absurd as having a holiday to celebrate breathing. I was right though, we should celebrate breathing in a big way.

As I frequently note (both in here and in the mirror), I’m constantly withering with each passing second. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not long for this world. In a snap of time I’ll be food for the worms. Old as I am, I’m still finding a certain truth to the sentiment above. At this stage it’s been years I’ve been outside of a relationship. Every time we circle the sun I find it harder to make large proclamations about my undying devotion to my girlfriend. Not because those feelings diminish or go anywhere, but that I’m learning how little their volume affects their veracity. We say those words every night before we turn off the lights and we mean them, but they’re meaningful in a practical sense. There’s a difference between smiling as we look into each other’s eyes and yelling from a clifftop, but I’m not particularly sure it’s as vast as you’d think.

I’ve long been a proponent of love in the unseen. That sounds a lot more cryptic than it’s meant to. What I’m getting at is that with time I feel like on one hand I’m becoming less romantic, but on the other nothing has changed. Saying “I love you” has stopped being an emotional bid and instead has become a token of existence. It’s saying “I’m not going anywhere” or “I want to keep waking up next to you”. It’s making the mundane of something extraordinary because it’s become so integral. We don’t marvel at the sun every day, but that doesn’t stop it from being remarkable. I see love in that my life hasn’t been simply mine for some time. Love is in every room of my home, whether in tangible physical form or the small gestures that we do for one another. The long and short is that love has become less performative, I’ve got nothing to prove and I don’t think that diminishes a thing.

Like breathing, sometimes you forget you’re doing it. In some ways it seems like I take love for granted, then as soon as take a breath I realise how abundant it is. For that to be mundane feels pretty special to me.

I remember that time that you told me, you said “Love is touching souls”.

I was listening to James Blake in the morning commute. No particular reason, I hadn’t heard him for a while. I figured I’d start with the Enough Thunder EP. When I got to “Case of You”, I put down the phone and really listened. I had a seat. The song’s outpouring of emotion had me stuck fast. When I got to the end I skipped back to the start, closed my eyes and listened again. I was pulled deep into a catharsis, releasing something held back by the stifling regimen of the commute.

I stepped away from the irritation of constantly moving my large bag so as not to inconvenience others, of contorting my body around other people and their baggage (literal and metaphorical). Of trying to be considerate of making space. Of encouraging other passengers to move into unoccupied areas of the train so potential passengers wouldn’t be stranded at the station for no reason. Everyone just wanted to get to work, so the best course of action was to make room for as many as possible. As Blake’s voice washed over me, I forgot all that. I thought back to when I first heard the song, working late nights at Sky TV. I thought of Joni Mitchell, who wrote the original. I thought of a Sunday morning post drinking at age 20. I walked into a room to find one of my friends peacefully listening to “Big Yellow Taxi”, humming along, blissfully unaware anyone else was awake.

I realised I didn’t know much of Joni Mitchell’s oeuvre and resolved to hear more. When I got to the office I put on Blue and went about my work. Something about the sound pulled me back to my childhood, to my parents. I’m not sure that my parents necessarily listened to Joni, but there was something in her sound that brought a scene to mind. In this mental snapshot it was night time. My parents must’ve been having friends over. We were all in the lounge. The long curtains and trusty old speakers stood out to me. The mood was jovial, adults chatting amicably, glasses filled with deep red wine. Plates were piled high and a couple of us kids were scattered around. The conversation was mostly going over our heads, but we were just excited to be around the adults that late. I don’t even know if this ever took place, but picturing it brought rise to feelings of safety, comfort and contentment.

As the album went on, it gave birth to some simple fantasy in my mind’s eye. In this fantasy my girlfriend and I go out to meet friends for lunch somewhere. We’re all a little older. The meal is great and laughter fills the table from start to finish. Phones are nowhere to be seen. We’re totally present and in the moment. We’re getting nostalgic over past adventures, stories we’d forgotten to the ages. It’s a long overdue catch-up and we revel in the affection we hold for each other. The warmth is abundant and it’s hard to keep from smiling. As we settle up and prepare to head on out, we all realise we have no particular plans. Maybe someone needs to run an errand in the surrounding shops and we decide to tag along and meander with them. The rapport continues as we mess around. It’s fantastic. Everyone’s doing bits and lifting one another up. We’re having a time.

The weather starts to take a turn and an idea sparks in my head. Why don’t we keep this party going, duck into a bottle shop and head back to ours? Everyone’s on board and we follow suit. We grab a couple of bottles of wine, order a car and pile in. The driver picks up on the vibe and turns out to be really interesting in their own right. We learn something new and by the time we’ve arrived, it felt like we shared a moment. It’s pissing down, so we rush the front door and get in as quick as we can. We’re all a little soaked, but the heat was left on. It’s beautifully balmy and inviting, despite our wet clothes. We figure we’re all friends and there’s nothing we haven’t seen of one another, so we all end up stripping down to various states of undress. Maybe someone’s still cold and they’re lent a plush garment. What we’re wearing doesn’t matter one iota, but what does matter is that we’re all abundantly comfortable.

My girlfriend grabs some glasses and I head to the stereo to toss on music. It’s something universally familiar, say The Big Chill soundtrack. Pillows and blankets are everywhere and we all cosy up with one another. We’re all chatting amicably, excited to be together. A song comes on and it sparks a memory for one of us. A long, heartfelt story is told, one we’ve never heard before, and we all feel privileged to be have shared in it. We realise it’s been a while since lunch and someone rounds up snacks while we all resolve to order takeout. We opt for candles in lieu of overhead light. The night continues in much the same vein. We lounge around, filled with wine, food, memories and song. The warmth we feel is in sharp juxtaposition to the storm raging outside. There’s an unspoken quality in the air that’s simply the representation of being excited to be together with the rest of the world on pause. The hours drag later. Wine swaps out for scotch and the music grows softer. Eventually it gets late enough that we realise we’re softly drifting off. It’s time to part ways. The storm has lifted. Nothing’s lost in leaving, because we’re all so filled to the brim with everything we could need. We don’t want for anything. A car is called and our friends get dressed to go. It arrives, we share long hugs and resolve to do it again sometime. There’s a note in the way it’s said that carries with it meaning. We know it’s not an empty gesture. Our friends head off into the night and we’re left with a warm, quiet house. One of us turns to the other and says “that was nice. Like, really really nice.” There’s no point in disagreeing.

That’s how I want to grow old.