METERMy mother used to share a vacation home with her brothers and sisters on the Mornington Peninsula. When they told us that one year they wanted to sell it, my cousin, my sister and I wanted so desperately to keep it that we came up with an idea: we would start organizing mini-festivals in the summer to show them how many people loved the house.
Every February, we invite people to camp and book around 20 local acts, always trying to make these events really special. Sometimes we create interesting collaborations; other years there were unique performing arts events.
But finally the time came: the house was put up for sale. We would have one last goodbye, so we decided to hold that year’s event on the water.
We hired a violinist and a trumpeter, and a group of violinists, to take everyone from the grass to the shore. We formed a conga line, all dancing down the street, down the steep little cliff path towards the beach, where we were met with a surprise.
Musician Oliver Mann was there to greet us, in the water just above his knees, serenading us with the opera. The water was so still it looked like glass; you could see her reflection so perfectly. We all lay in the water, it was one of those hot, stinky days, listening to his offer.
We had also timed it very well. The sun was setting, it seemed as if the bay was on fire. We live in a painting, I thought. It was one of those moments where you realize how beautiful Australia is.
From there, everyone began to celebrate as night fell. We installed a sound system and danced until dawn. (Dancing on the sand was, of course, an epic leg workout.)
I have fragments of memories of that party: points where slow pirate remixes started playing and I felt like everything was happening in slow motion; Lying in the boathouse with his head cast on the steps.
The people slowly walked away, returning to the camp, and at dawn, only a few of us were left. As usual, I’d walked away, which is something I usually do at parties, and found myself in a canoe, high on mushrooms, with a boombox blaring Mariah Carey.
I can’t explain how I got into that canoe, but there I was, enjoying the bliss as someone else paddled.
If I had my senses on me, I would have thought that being out to sea in a small boat was a bit dangerous. But the sun was rising. My friends were on the shore. You could see all the way to the bottom of the sand. And he was playing Touch My Body. So there was no fear, just the safest feeling.
That day when we all woke up and started to recover, we made our classic morning after meal – just three or four packets of my goreng for you, topped with fried eggs, peas, and butter. The food you ate when you knew you had the perfect evening.
I realized that I had managed to work so hard that my legs were stiff and stiff as boards, it was worth it for that night.
The ending was so bittersweet. We were never going to have this house again; It was the last party on that side of the coast where I had spent all my childhood.
But we had had a beautiful moment, shared with everyone, a story that we would tell for years to come.