Part 1: Twilight Driving
Kick-on Cameron had never been to Tumut. Or at least not to his memory. His holidays had always taken him north, chasing warmer climates and partaking in the yearly festival pilgrimages. Two friends from his inner circle, D&M Dan and Pretty Penny, were getting married tomorrow and so he was to visit Tumut (home of The Festival Of The Falling Leaf) for the very first time.
He drove down by himself. There were enough beds for everyone on the property they had hired, but if he got there early enough he wouldn’t have to share a room (a practice best reserved for non-smoking non-snorers and those less self conscious about their propensity to say weird shit while they slept). He didn’t have an issue with anyone that was going really; there were only 40 guests invited. Their group of friends had been thick as thieves since they were 19, and D&M Dan and Pretty Penny were both the sole children of hippy black sheep, so the family guestlist was brief.
There were a few hangers on that he hadn’t met. Pretty Penny worked at a reputable family law firm and her colleagues had quickly proven they were on the level after consecutive work drinks ended at Overshare Claire’s place in Darlington at 8am on a Saturday morning. D&M Dan’s cricket team had provided two men of a similar breed too. They’d taken this game off to be at the wedding (being off-head in a linen suit in Tumut seemed like a much better option than spending 85 overs going mid-on to mid-on in the shitty, shitty Lane Cove sun).
He pulled into the driveway of the property. A row of poplars acted as a barrier between the dirt road and the expansive lawn that the marquees for tomorrow’s festivities had been set up on. The podcast he was listening to (the Song Exploder episode about TuNe-YaRdS’ Water Fountain ***editor’s note: not a bad listen***) finished just as he pulled up in the open expanse left for cars next to the main house, next to a black Corolla that he knew all too well.
His group of friends called him Kick-on; his family and workmates called him Cammy. The last time someone had called him Cameron was when he had to renew his driver’s license at the Service NSW in Marrickville Metro a few months ago.
He and Overshare Claire broke up a fortnight ago. They were driving back to her’s from D&M Dan’s holiday house in Anna Bay. A podcast about Hitler’s fascination with a piece of art called The Adoration Of The Mystic Lamb (***editor’s note: not a bad listen***) sparked the conversation. It kicked off as a discussion about how fascists would never be able to truly appreciate art and extended into Kick-on Cameron’s theory that the term “male artist” has been an oxymoron since the birth of the feminist movement (***editor’s note: until the advent of undividable Shia LeBouef***). This triggered a discussion about the male feminist, and whether a man could truly class themselves a feminist having not been fully immersed in the struggle. Kick-on Cameron had long been enemies with the term “feminist ally.” They were about to turn off the F3 into Turramurra when it went to shit.
“You think you’re so fucking pure, so fucking great. You aren’t the barometer for ethical dilemmas, you know.”
“I never said I was. I just think the term ‘feminist ally’ cheapens how much I care about feminism.”
“Do you actually care though? It seems to me like you’re so worried about people perceiving you as some fucking all-knowing ‘woke’ guy that you forget to listen to the people around you… The people that your self-made pedestal actually affects.”
“What do you mean by that?”
The car went silent for a bit. Overshare Claire had yelled for the first time in their year long relationship. They had spent the past eight years as friends, the last one as lovers, and neither of them had even raised their voice at one another until now.
This was the start of many conversations about how Overshare Claire felt that Kick-on Cameron refused to give enough of himself to her, instead devoting himself to the people around him, and the image he wanted to maintain. He refused to buy into her read of the situation, instead saying that her insecurities were playing on her to the point of building a false idea of him in her mind that led her to question who he actually was. They got so deep in their differences that a week later they decided to call it a day. It was more civil than angsty, and more awkward than final.
His nerves had him fumbling his car keys as he stepped into the warm Tumut evening. They hadn’t spoken since they officially ended it, where they agreed that the next time they would see each other would be the wedding. Kick-on Cameron had hoped that he would’ve had some time to ease in when he got there, but there she stood. They half-committed to hugging each other, he grabbed his bags, nabbed a room to himself, took a deep breath, joined everyone out the back and rolled a joint. The only seat spare was next to her.