Against all odds, I am currently sitting in a five-person dorm in a hostel. There’s a surly German guy sitting in the corner watching a movie on his computer. I think his name is Greg.

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

I decided it would be a really good idea to go to Melbourne, Australia during my last week or so on this side of the planet. Alone.

As an aside—yes, I have fully failed to make friends who aren’t my friends this entire time. I’ve gone out to coffee with Potential Cult Member girl a second time and wouldn’t mind hanging out with her again before I leave (in a twist which should be surprising to no one, I have a lot in common with potential cult members). The last of my friend dates was with a seemingly-awesome British guy. We went to see In The Loop (which is awesome, by the way) and I dominated a lot of the conversation because he was busy being sullen about having to move out of the house that he and his ex-girlfriend shared recently. It was sort of awkward, but he was still seemingly-awesome. So I coaxed another more discussion-based and less sitting-in-the-dark-looking-at-screens-based meet-up (that really makes me sound like a PG Travis Bickle) out of him. It was normal at first but became very awkward when we breached the subject of my vegetarianism. Screwing this up was a two-way street: I tried to make some stupid point about the negative effect vegetarianism has on a person’s social like and the way people attach emotions to food (I know, I know), he committed the cardinal sin of Person Who Is Talking To A Vegetarian of doing the whole “I know a person who is a vegetarian so I know that you are a normal person or possibly better than a normal person because your life is full of Healthy Choices.” I HATE attention drawn to my vegetarianism and I really hate the assumption that I have ever made a healthy choice in my entire life. That’s such an insult. Anyway, things went from sort of weird to really, really weird and terrible when our age difference came up (as it is wont to in such situations). On his behalf, in the “I am several [seven, to be precise] years older than you and therefore much wiser than you,” on my behalf in the “I am going to try very hard to draw attention from this age difference by making jokes about it which will just make me seem very young” way. So, I’m an idiot, we’ve all figured that out by now. But it’s seriously a crime to just automatically claim wisdom like that. You have to earn that level of assholery. Either by being VERY old or by being in some sort of position of authority. So anyway, he ducked out as quickly as possible and I spent the rest of the night moping about not having any friends. It was all very boring.

 

Anyway. I went to Townsville for a grand total of about a day to visit Carissa. Where I met the world’s friendliest (not to mention youngest) cabbie. He was really, really great.

 

I learned a few very important facts about the Virgin/Pacific Blue airlines and the way they do business:

 

1)   They are jokesters. “This is a non-smoking, non-complaining flight.” The pilot, as we were beginning to land: “I think we’ll be on the ground soon.” Wowzers! Kitten’s got claws, you guys.

2)   It’s totally acceptable for them to paint pin-ups on the sides of their planes even though this is not World War 2 and they’re not fighter pilots. I rode on the “Melbourne Millie” and the “Hobart Honey.”

3)   They pipe music into the plane while it’s on the ground for no clear reason. One of the planes I was on alternated between Prince and Coldplay. Because those two things go well together.

4)   Unrelated to the airline, but I am a Reverse Bigot: I saw a couple canoodling in the waiting area before we boarded one of the planes. I’m ridiculously anti-public canoodling (frankly I think hand-holding is pushing it. I make exceptions for kisses goodbye in relationships that have been going on for more than a year (so I either have to know you personally or you have to give out a distinctive “we’ve been together for a while” vibe, but outside of that, you’re just pissing me off), so I was getting pretty annoyed. Then I realized the male half of the couple was actually just a really butch lady, so my annoyance instantly faded. So apparently hetero-affection is unacceptable but homo-love? Go right ahead, I’ll just go back to my sandwich and podcast listening thank you very much.

 

So after spending a day traveling from Townsville to Melbourne (which was, by the way, not before a drunk guy in Townsville shouted “PURPLE TOP! PURPLE TOP!” at me. He had a good point, though. I was wearing a purple top) I took the world’s longest cab ride and found myself in downtown Melbourne.

 

I was under the distinct impression that Melbourne was a little artsy city, the Austin of Australia. It might be some of that, but little it is not. This place is huge. Or maybe I’ve been in tiny Wellington for too long. It’s possible.

 

I’m staying at the Greenhouse Backpackers. And so far it’s really, really weird and something I’m completely shocked that I’m subjecting myself to. Despite the fact that I am like 85% sure I requested an all-ladies room, the first person I saw when I got into my room was a semi-bearded Coloradan named Greg. I later found out that my three other roommates, all seemingly German, included only one girl (Anya), plus Possibly Greg and a guy with a shaved head and serious douchebag facial hair who wasn’t in the room long enough for me to introduce myself to him. I’m on the top bunk about Anya. I haven’t slept in a bunk bed (let alone on the top bunk) since summer camp. And in a way, this is sort of like a monster version of summer camp: it’s really, really hot, I’m feeling very uncomfortable, and I can’t seem to carry on a conversation with anyone.

Though I’m not entirely convinced that this time my inability to carry on a conversation is do to my personal social awkwardness (which has depleted significantly. Or at least I’ve gotten really good at making small talk with cab drivers). Or it’s 50/50 this time. German Possibly Greg was talking to Greg about that song “Hallelujah” and mentioned her didn’t know who sang the original, so I told him it was Leonard Cohen. That’s definitely a normal-person in, right? Not “Look what a music expert I am” douchebaggery? I’m not convinced it didn’t come off as a dick move on my behalf, but the brief conversation that followed was Awkward City, USA.

 

ME: It’s Leonard Cohen. The guy who sings the original, I mean.

POSSIBLY GREG: I don’t know him.

ME: Oh, well it’s really weird sounding because he’s like…this gravelly-sounding old guy, basically [NOTE: Possibly Greg had mentioned he was only familiar with the version from Shrek which I’m pretty sure is Rufus Wainwright. So compared to Rufus Wainwright Leonard Cohen is very gravelly and old. Even though that phrasing suggests Tom Waits. Which, by the way, would be an awesome cover).

POSSIBLY GREG: It is the best version.

ME: Really? I don’t know, there have been some really good covers of that song.

POSSIBLY GREG: It’s the original, so it is best.

 

This was an almost angry, definitely conversation-ending statement. I became uncomfortable with our weirdly tense silence so I took a shower.

I forgot how bad public showers suck. It’s a lot.

I’m here until Thursday. Let’s see how I adjust.

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