Anais Nin wrote, “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” I’ve been living this quote for years, bouncing from place to place, weaving my way through different states, living a varied life, but ultimately seeking that universal soul that makes anywhere in the world feel like my own backyard. Last night, in someone else’s backyard, my soul was right at home.
I was literally in someone else’s backyard. Last week at the Folkraiser, someone handed me a flyer advertising a “Super 8 Projector Picnic” featuring some of the bands that had played that night. Having had such an unexpectedly positive experience that evening, I trusted that this would be similar and found my way to the mysterious garden venue in suburban Ashfield.
The train ride there was horrible. Five rowdy men got on and four of them occupied the booth next to me. The fifth sat down in my booth, declaring, “I’ll just sit with this pretty lady. And I won’t even bother her.” Then for the next five stops, he bothered me ceaselessly as I strained to ignore him, concentrating on my hangnails and the blank view out the window. Seeing that their mate was unsuccessful (in his attempt to…what exactly?), the other four joined in trying to get a reaction out of me. I met my friend on the platform, flipped the blokes the bird and vented as we walked past Chinese food stores and travel agencies and through empty suburban streets. I had pretty much made up my mind that I couldn’t handle the aggressive Aussie misogyny anymore and was ready to go home. This is not the state I’ve been seeking, and my soul was ill at ease.
But then we arrived at Fitzroy Palace and my stress was absorbed by the cool green lawn. It was an intimate gathering. Like, really intimate. Besides the band members’ housemates, parents, and girlfriends, I think we were about the only ones in the audience – the only strangers in Steve from arbori:’s backyard. To call us strangers feels wrong, because I felt completely welcome, and indeed by the end of the evening I was making plans to have a salad party with the performers. There was nobody at the door collecting cover, and the band seemed surprised when I offered to pay after the show (it was a $10 cover, plus I bought a $5 CD…how cute is the cover art?). There was even free popcorn, suspended by clothespins from the drying rack.
It was such a pretty, soulful atmosphere. A flat, open lawn with the bands set up in front of an old garden shed, lights illuminating the boughs overhead. Empty beer bottles served as vases holding baby’s breath and wildflowers.
We stretched out on the grass and drank wine from the bottle and snacked on cheese & cookies. My friend said he spent one whole song totally fixated on the twinkling blue fairy lights hung in a single strand across the yard. The super 8 projector played Sea World videos and primary school footage on a small screen while arbori: and Packwood (we missed the first act, Chelsea Gibson) played their hearts out. The music was lovely and sincere, lots of talent in this backyard.
It was the chillest of chill nights, and it rocked my travelling soul. This is the scene I’ve been looking for since arriving in Sydney. These folks seem like good people, and hopefully I will see them again, whether it’s for fresh tunes or fresh veggies.