**This piece of writing contains images of deceased persons and some of the content may be triggering**
RADIOACTIVE EXPOSURE TOUR
In September 2013, I found myself sitting in an apartment across the street from Nagano Park in Osaka. There was a ceaseless mechanical whirr of cicadas in the background and a sheath of fine sweat over my body as summer blared on. My friend Aki was a kind and gentle soul and patiently endured my indecisive outpourings. My visa was up and I was out of money and ready to start living off of my line of credit. I was deciding whether to return home to Canada or go back to Melbourne where my heart strings were tugging me towards.
My last day in Melbourne when I had traveled there the previous year was spent in the Collingwood neighbourhood and I wandered along the main drag on Smith St. enveloped in streetscapes of weathered Victorian architecture and graffiti murals. I ended up lazing outside of the Friends of the Earth cafe and answered a questionnaire for a young, shaggy, curly haired man with emerald eyes. Afterwards, I gave him a tarot reading from a small Thoth deck I was traveling with.
Even though Melbourne was a densely populated metropolis with a lot of activity going on around, I still found myself able to enter into an ethereal flow where the beauty of each moment could be seized and savoured. The scent of roasting kebabs floated down the street and the skies overhead shifted in dramatic swirls. An eclectic mix of artists, punks, flamboyant cross-dressers and other subcultural aficionados passed me by. Smith St. was also one of the few places in central Melbourne where there was an Aboriginal community.
In the end, I decided to return to Melbourne and on my first day back I walked up to Smith St. from the cozy, dingy hostel I was staying at and went right back in to Friends of The Earth. I ordered a tea and sat down at a table outside as if no time had passed. I hit if off with the girl who was working there and she asked if I would be interested in volunteering in the cafe. I showed up a few days later for my first shift.
In December, I ended up at a Mad Max-themed fundraiser at a warehouse in Brunswick. To get there, I walked from the tram and down a side street, then through a portal-esque laneway and then turned down another laneway where people were gathered in little pods and draped along the pavement smoking, drinking and chatting. I found my pod inside and we sat on the floor watching one of the opening acts, an upbeat folk-punk band called the Glitter Rats. People were walking around wearing elaborate homemade Mad Max-themed outfits with mohawks and smears of black eyeliner. Artwork and posters covered the walls and there were several mini bars. On the upper floor, where I found the cramped solitary bathroom, were enclaves where people lived. Everything was warm, wooden and electrifying.
When hip-hopper’s Combat Wombat started their set, we all got up and danced. As they were playing, the lead singer told us that they were raising funds to buy a bus, convert it to run on used vegetable oil and go out on an anti-nuclear campaign in the middle of the desert.
Four months later I ended up on that bus...