Illustration by Lea Heinrich.What Happens on the Bus to Canberra Stays With You
Any man who has suffered kidney stones (as I have) MUST have some empathy for women who both have to give birth and suffer discomfort during their monthly cycle. I personally think that EVERY man should get kidney stones at some stage in their life, so that they have a better understanding of the suffering that women endure.
I never feel good about putting my cello in the undercarriage of a bus, but the driver always tells me that it’s a hazard to seat it beside me – if he has to brake quickly it’s inevitable that the hard case will sail forward, decapitate someone, and crash through the windscreen. Fortunately, getting the instrument home should be today’s greatest, and only, frustration. This morning’s trip is a short one: back to Canberra after a gig at Wollongong’s indie venue Yours and Owls. Although I didn’t drink anything last night, I feel a quease taking soft hold of my insides. The driver steps aside when he sees me approach with my black case in tow. He checks me off his list, gives his bald head a rub and turns the movement into a brief scratch of his neat, tea-stained handlebar moustache. He allows me to wedge the instrument between luggage cases and pat the cello good luck before stepping up into the coach. I sit toward the front of the bus, scoot my overnight bag beneath my feet. As I’m balling up a jumper to place between the window and my forehead, the bus pulls out, and I get my period. There’s nothing psychic or transformative about it: for a moment I am unsure, wondering if it’s travel sickness, and then realise that it’s my uterus stripping itself of its wallpaper. I feel a mucusy residue turning cold on the seat of my underpants. It’s uncomfortable to write this, but they are the facts. The painters are in.