It was twelve years ago.
In the month before, I’d broken up with my second serious girlfriend.
In the week before, I’d been involved in a team kayak race that finished on NYE in Swan Hill.
At 9pm on NYE I got chatting to a girl in a pub. My teammates left. I stayed. Then the girl left. Alone.
At 8pm I’d loaned my drivers licence to a 16-year-old teammate. By 9.30pm I’d been refused entry. Everywhere.
Moments after my ex-girlfriend phoned to tell me that so far she’d pashed 17 boys, and three girls, my mobile phone ran out of battery.
I walked around looking for my teammates, and then listened to the countdown. Alone.
I spent the next seven hours walking around Swan Hill looking for the campsite.
I repeatedly found a racecourse, football oval and farming equipment dealership.
At 3.30am I started trying to open car doors, in an effort to borrow one.
At 3.43am I opened one, and couldn’t start it.
By 4.23am I’d hailed over 50 taxis. Unsuccessfully.
At 4.32am a guy started walking beside me. He told me that he had four kids, to two different women, and picked oranges 363 days a year to afford the child support, as well as food and alcohol for himself. He was very skinny, and very drunk.
At 5.13am I started walking towards oncoming traffic. All the cars drove around me. None stopped. Some tooted.
At 7.03am I found the campsite. It was next to the racecourse.