Friday, December 28, 2012

Michal Comes to Brisbane.

Michal comes to Brisbane! Michal comes to Brisbane! 
I said earlier, third time's a charm in Brisbane.

Carly: Does your friend have a place to stay yet? She is more than welcome to stay here.
Me: Really? That's so nice, I'll ask her.
Carly: Yeah no problem, you can choose who you want to sleep next to you on the pull-out.
Me: OoOh Really?!

Michal just couldn't not come to Brisbane. It was destined for us to meet up one last time again in Australia. From the very first city of my travels, to the very last. Carly had also finally heard back from one of the hairdressers she had sent her CV to and asked to come in for an interview, so we had more than one reason to treat ourselves out to dinner. We went down the road in Woolongabba to Chalk Hotel, which after walking into and up to the upstairs dining area and bar I realised I had been there before when I visited Ted and his friends in October. It was an odd realisation to be in an area I currently knew so familiarly but remember arriving to the same place in a taxi, thinking it was in the middle of nowhere Brisbane, a place I could never find again or would never see again - but here it was. It happened to be a burger + Jug dinner deal and trivia night. It definitely wasn't the $19 special or the burger that won us over, but the jug sealed the deal.
I don't think any of us actually grasped the concept of having a jug of beer to ourselves as we placed our orders. It was the biggest meal I had eaten in ages. And we didn't win trivia. We didn't even come close. But it was a lot of fun.
An English, two Scottish, and an Irish walk into a loud, dark bar....all we need is a Welsh and the jibber jabber confusion of accents that make up our conversation, or what we think is a conversation, would be complete. 
 case in point: Wild Hogs in Scottish sounds exactly like Whale Talks. Like that is even the name of a movie. But it is what I heard, and what I wrote down diligently, nodding my head convincingly as Jonny so confidently proclaimed the name of the movie to answer the trivia question. If only Dory was there to translate.

Angle Triangle also got us a point. 

Earlier that day, I had run into Inken randomly again on the exact same corner of Elizabeth and Edward Street in Brisbane as we were crossing the street heading in opposite directions both times. The second time, with Lovina, they told me they were leaving their jobs at the call centre to move to the Outback to work at a hostel. It happened to be their last night in the big city of Brisbane, in urban civilisation, so they were going out. I promised them I would meet them out for one last good bye, one last separation from Team Horsefly. Throughout all of our Australian travels, this would be the last until we all meet up again in another foreign country. So, Michal and I sauntered into town in the dark along the river with the city lights reflecting in the calm water. We chatted without reserve, catching up on all we hadn't emailed about. It was like we hadn't been apart since Surfers Paradise a month ago.

Brisbane doesn't have a big night life scene and as we arrived into the quiet streets, we were lead to what seemed to be the only bar open. As it was the only bar open in town, it was absolutely packed.
Met up with Chris again. But, what's with that guy's shirt?

Michal and I devised a plan to split up to each end of the bar and see who could be served first in the sea of thirsty backpackers, crammed like sardines up against the bar as shoulders snuggly still found room to strut to the music. Without knowing it, Michal and I were both served and we both had the idea to buy two rounds as to not have to get crushed into the ardent crowd again. Brilliant, we are.
Bitch, please. 

Being the busiest bar in Brisbane that night, and as it happens regularly in Australia, Chris was also there. So it was Byron Bay, Fraser Island, and Whitsundays all together in Brisbane for one last goodbye.
Reunited. With some goober (not Chris). 

The following day, Michal and I were left by the busy worker bees to enjoy the sun. We wandered hungrily along Grey Street, unsure of what type of food would satisfy insatiable us. I couldn't stop thinking about noodles and we agreed on a little Japanese place with outdoor seating along the sidewalk that advertised agreeably cheap prices. We sat down outside with a menu until I realised the price for the same exact thing was $4 dearer than what was on the sign. It looked like the same restaurant, the staff seemed to be working at both, the food was similar if not the same, but we couldn't figure out why the prices were different. Being the cheap, fastidious backpacker, I refused to pay more for what we had thought we were committing to. For $4 less, we just moved two tables down, with the same sidewalk views, had a limited food selection instead of the menu-book, and just had to order at the counter instead of being served table-side. This is what happens when you're on a budget, you only see prices and demand the most bang for your buck. Sure I could have had my usual piece of toast and cheese and Michal could have had her cup o'soup diet, but please, this was Michal and Shauna reunited for one last time in Australia.
I could have easily and happily had a second bowl of noodles if we weren't heading over to the lagoon to sunbathe.
fake lagoon.

One last sunbathe to soak up the Australian sun before it would freeze off in the Irish winter winds. One last sunbathe meant one last burn and a blistered sunburnt lip. 

When we couldn't see our sun damage - sunglasses on or off - we decided we would buy dinner for C & J as a thank you for letting us stay with them. We had talked about having a big BBQ as a bon voyage but most of the people I knew in the city had left by then so it was just the four of us, with Reginald in his tweed looking after our cold beers in the pool, our forkless salad, and kangaroo burgers.
When in doubt, the pool can also be a refrigerator. Just don't leave the guests unattended.
No diving, Carly. 
I felt so lucky to have such good friends to laugh with and friends from around the world who I met around Australia who were now friends with each other.
Michael, Joan, Carlos, and Shaun. 

I didn't want to say goodbye. I had met Michal towards the beginning of my trip, and here she was towards the end. Even if we hadn't traveled the same trip together, she was always there. She was like the boyfriend you keep because it's safe, the one you stay together with so you don't have to be completely alone. Like the high school boyfriend you don't break up with when you go off to Uni until you have securely found your place with your new friends...and a new boyfriend. The one that even if you're not together, you know he's only a phone call away, there to text whenever, or to talk to when you go home at night. Even when I didn't have that boyfriend anymore, and was traveling utterly alone, Michal was still there. Michal was always a phone call, a text, an email, a Facebook message away reassuringly telling me that I would love the Fraser Island trip and Whitsunday sailing, giving me suggestions of places she had previously been to as I arrived in a new place alone, sharing with me her own solo escapades as we ventured in opposite directions amongst the country, but then somehow managing to make plans with each other to meet up again. I hope she stays in her beloved Sydney, I hope she still gets to travel the rest of the world despite her love for Sydney, I hope she moves to London to live near me. I hope she even gives sake another chance. I know we'll stay in touch. I know we'll see each other again. Somewhere in this world. With a glass, no a bottle of wine, to catch up and laugh until we have stitches or pee ourselves. 

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