I’m on the plane/bus on my way home. I started off hating the small mining town of Tom Price and ended up quite liking it. I did not like the price of their coffee though. The price of their coffee sucked balls. $5 for a medium flat white! Pffft. I ask you. But actually, it grew on me, in the 24 hours that I was there. Not the price of coffee - the small mining town of Tom Price. I went for a run this morning and covered the entire length of the town in, like, seven minutes, max. And that’s cool. They’ve got everything they need there – a primary school and a high school and a Coles and a café and yeah that’s about it, but what else do you need? Oh, they don’t have a bakery, which is a controversial issue, because they’d really fucking like a bakery, but hopefully one day they’ll get a bakery and then they’ll never ever have to leave, not even to get fresh bread. But can you imagine how nice that would be? Never leaving the town that you’re born in, and knowing everything and everyone? Some people might think it’d be claustrophobic, but I found myself feeling quite jealous of the Tom Price people and their small town. Even though some of the kids in that town might never have seen an escalator. That’s a possibility. Tom Price is like a million hours away from the nearest city. You have to get on a PLANE to get the city. Escalators are a long way from their home. Escalators and bakeries.
The guy sitting next to me just paid $6 for a titchy bottle of wine and then spilled the whole thing across his tray table and, as a result, his lap. He didn’t swear, which is ADMIRABLE.
I liked Tom Price, but I did not like its hotel-motel. It made me itch. Its accompanying pub had a bouncy castle next to the bar. Like, inside. There were loads of fucking kids in there, and it made me feel weird and sad. My room was – I imagine – worse than prison. If prison is crawling with ants. ‘Cos if it isn’t, then my room was worse than prison. I don’t ever feel scared on my own, but last night I felt a bit scared, ‘cos it was a very MASCULINE environment, and I am not that masculine – despite my haircut and inability to apply eye makeup – and for probably the first time in my life I felt like a vulnerable female. It was a weird and unnerving feeling, not helped by the fact that I had to use my crackers to eat my peanut butter because there was no cutlery in the room.
At last night’s workshop – which I presented to four people – I made a cup of tea from the hot water button of the water cooler. The lady told me to make my tea that way, and provided paper cups, tea bags and that weird milk that lasts forever. I made my tea but then couldn’t drink it because it was NOT ACTUALLY HOT. But then, at the end of the workshop, I was faced with a dilemma: what should I do with my cup of tea? I couldn’t pour it away, because there was NO SINK. I couldn’t put it in the bin, because the cup was full of weird cold tea. I kind of half put my cup in the bin and then thought no, what are you DOING? Don’t put a full cup of tea in the BIN. So I took it out. But then what? I ended up leaving it on the table and now I feel like the worst human ‘cos who leaves their rubbish just lying around like they expect someone else to clean up after them? The worst kind of human, that’s who.
The plane/bus is full of miners, but this time they’re going HOME from work rather than going TO work. There’s an entirely different vibe. They’re tired but jolly. I have the most awful sense of empathy with these miners. I have really not liked leaving my family to go to work, and I’ve only been away for 36 hours. These guys are away for weeks at a time. And there’s so much pressure on them going home. Like, not perhaps on them, but on their families and their wives and yeah, them I suppose, in the sense that they must feel like they’re on borrowed time on their week home from work, and everything has got to be great and perfect and fun and lovely when, fucking hell, what are the chances of that? Am I overthinking it? I’m possibly overthinking it. And what if their wives don’t feel like putting out tonight, but kind of feel obligated because these miners have been imprisoned for a few weeks and would really like their wives to put out? So much PRESSURE, from every angle. I don’t ever want Paul to work away.
The air hostesses on this plane/bus are BEYOND LOVELY. I can’t tell you! I just asked for a small bottle of water and they gave me two! NOW THAT IS SERVICE. And when I got drug tested at Paraburdoo Airport, the lady was SO APOLOGETIC. She swabbed me and my belongings three times, and apologised more effusively each time. I felt bad for her.
Today’s workshop finished at 3pm. My flight home was at 6.50pm. The drive from the workshop to the airport was scheduled to take 45 minutes. Which left the question: what the fuck was I supposed to do for three hours, given that the only café in town closed at 3? I could go to the pub, yes, but that would mean returning to the scene of my cell and the bouncy castle, so fuck that. I ended up just driving. I drove in the general direction of the airport, but turned off at the sign for Karijini National Park. I’ve heard incredible things about Karijini National Park. When I wrote that book about artists, they all went on and on about the fucking LIGHT in Karijini National Park, so I thought fuck it, I’ll go there. I drove for a long way but then realised that my phone had no signal and freaked the fuck out, so turned around, stopping on the way back at a “view”. It was a designated “view” so that’s how I knew to stop there. I said WOW as I looked around at the undeniably spectacular view, but I don’t know if it was a real, genuine wow or a designated wow. It’s hard to really be present in moments like that, don’t you think? It feels like you’re looking through a viewfinder; a bit surreal. Maybe I’m missing the landscape-appreciation button in my brain. Anyway, I was more interested in all the commemorative rocks piled up at the designated view – each one dedicated to a dead person. There ashes must’ve been scattered there, I reckon. It was quite moving, especially the one with the construction worker’s helmet and two bottles of beer next to it. The helmet had “Eddie” scribbled on in black marker pen, and it made me feel impossibly sad. Poor Eddie.
For the remaining two hours and 45 minutes I sat in my hire car in the Paraburdoo Airport carpark, listened to podcasts (Hip Hop Saved My Life), ate protein bars and pork scratchings (plural) and answered work emails. I should’ve felt miserable but I was okay. I was definitely more okay than I was at Perth Airport waiting to board my flight to Paraburdoo. I did feel miserable then. I’m just happy to be going home now. I’m not good away from home. Please don’t make me leave home again.