Before I start, let’s make one thing clear. I would rather be run over a bus—a bus that was on fire—than marry my boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong: we’ve been together for a decade and I adore the bastard. But the prospect of a wedding—the stress, the cost, being photographed a million times and making out in front of relatives—just doesn’t appeal to me. The average Australian wedding costs $50,000 and if I had that kind of money, I’d rather buy, say, a round-the-world plane ticket. In fact, doing the math, I could buy 25 tickets. I’d bring my friends.
Still, none of this makes me anti-wedding. Because hot damn, I love me a good hitchin’. And it isn’t just the free alcohol. I love the pageantry of the whole thing: dressing up in suits and gowns, adjusting my boyfriend’s tie before we arrive and seeing my friends at their most beautiful. Weddings makes me feel grown up. I weep openly during the vows, and when I see the bride and groom’s families do the same thing, it triggers even more snot-nosed heaving. It is a beautiful thing.
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Longing for a lover can inspire beautiful art. At the start of the 1900s, it compelled Proust to write his magnum opus In Search of Lost Time. By the end of that same century, it inspired Everything But the Girl to write a lovely song about how the deserts miss the rain. In reality though, missing someone can be pretty unbearable. When you’re in a long distance relationship, you realise a desert waiting for rain would feel torturous. Your entire existence would be reduced to drought. You would die of thirst. You would shit sand.
My boyfriend and I have always spent long periods apart, on and off. When we first started dating, he embarked on a six-month exchange to Hong Kong. For the past 18 months, I’ve split time between Australia and Asia for work, leaving for months at a time. More opportunities came up this year, so we finally packed up our apartment and caught planes in opposite directions. He flew to North America; I headed back to Asia. “International power couple!” my friends said merrily. I felt the opposite of that. I felt like a kid in squeaky shoes and a helicopter cap, waving sadly goodbye to his best friend at the airport again.
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There’s a particularly gruesome horror movie out there called Hostel. Some of you may have seen it already. Like most movies featuring gratutious torture, I refuse to watch it (severed achilles heels—sounds like a lark!). But from what IMDB tells me, it’s about a small group of backpackers travelling throughout a Slovakian city “with no idea of the hell that awaits them”. Needless to say, the film deeply upset the Slovekian tourism department.
Besides the senseless violence—severed fingers, brutalised corpses—my main gripe with the film’s premise is this: Aren’t backpackers’ hostels horrifying enough already? Do we really need to imagine guests being cut up and left to bleed, when most of us find giant bloodstains on our sheets upon arrival anyway? Do we need to see someone disembowelled in a hostel, when Balinese food poisoning does the same thing? Is there not enough horror already in backpackers hostels without making it worse?
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