For all the girls I've been, so far:
In 2003 I was 20 years old (nearly 21! I would have told you, absolutely determined not to be young). I was dating a 6 foot tall motorbike rider I called Daddy, and running gleefully amok as the tiny femme sidekick of her band of strapping, packing butch warriors. That year, just after Christmas, we decided on the spur of the moment to pack up the cars and head north to something called "Tropical Fruits". I'd never heard of it, but I trusted that crew to provide a quality adventure. We went north, and at a party full of the kindest queers I had ever met, dancing between rolling green hills, a little bit of my urban armour chipped open, and my life changed.
I missed the next year's party because I was just about to pack off to San Francisco (for a year, although I didn't know that yet)- that New Years I partied in Sydney instead. The year after, though, I went north again, drawn by that beautiful land, those beautiful people. Then again the next year. Those two years I went with my trusty adventure-friend, and we found our own way- staying at the caravan park, driving and exploring those lush hills without guide or context.
The next year found me north again, at the farm this time, and the world tilted again. I learned so much there, and came home a different person. I made decisions right then, in those weeks, about the ways I wanted to live my life, and those decisions have held. The next year I was at the farm again. Afterwards I hitched a lift to Brisbane, and in the kitchen of near-strangers I decided I was going to quit my job, leave my house, and move to Europe.
I stayed at the showgrounds this year, camping out for the first time, and it was lovely. I volunteered, helped build the space, and couldn't believe it had taken me so long to get around to that experience of putting the party together.
This year I celebrated my 3rd dance-floor meeting anniversary with one of the loveliest human beings I have ever met, someone I am so glad to have in my life. 3 years ago, on that same dance floor, I met the person who would later pave my way overseas, who would let me sleep on her couch in London and nurse me through some rough European landings. One year ago I met the person whose house I am staying in as I type this- cruising past them on that dance floor, a mutual friend briefly introduced us, and we wound up in a 36-hour cuddling adventure that we still happily revisit when the mood strikes.
I spent this New Year wrapped up in the love of friends. Filled with the joy of our shared adventures, and the ones we strike out on alone. I beamed, watching my 3-year anniversary friend and my 1-year anniversary friend meet, and bond, and delight in each other. There were challenges at this year's party (that almost perfectly mirrored the challenges of the year: thanks universe, I get the message!) and at every challenging moment there was the love and support of a friend to carry me through. I have rarely felt as loved as I have over the past few weeks: my heart swells, thinking of it.
On the 2nd of January, fending off the let-down of it all being nearly over, one of those friends picked me up and we went off to a waterhole in the hills for a swim. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, this waterhole, broad waterfalls crashing down into a deep, wide swimming hole, bright butterflies and dragonflies skimming across the surface, scarcely anyone around. My body sings for swimming in beautiful places (in the past year I have swum in the ponds of Hampstead Heath, the harbour of Copenhagen, the Baltic Coast of Poland, the lakes of Berlin, the salty coastal waters of Sydney and the fresh waters of the Northern Rivers).
"Next year-" everyone says, and I join in the game, but I don't know where I will be next year. Here, at Tropical Fruits again, maybe. Or maybe somewhere else, taking with me every amazing thing I have learned through these amazing years of this party and what it has been in my life, and how it has shaped me.