2006-09-06 || 5:52 p.m.

|| Melbourne ||

Koalas hugged: 0.

We fly to Melbourne taking great care to be on the lookout for Mark�s dad�s station wagon thousands of miles below making the trip by land. Touring and jet lag and wearing the same socks start to catch up with us, and we silently take a taxi to a hotel in Carlton. Our bags are heavier and we�re tired and I am heartbroken this is the last show with our new favorite Australian band.

We get to Northcote a little early and drop Owen�s gear off at the Northcote Social Club. We walk up and down High Street and stop to eat and get coffee and stall. I take Owen�s picture in front of the Artificial Eye Center. I make note of a dress shop full of beautiful frilly things. When we get back to the club Clue to Kalo has arrived and Haima is starting sound check. Everyone gets set up and I drink a lot of coffee and Red Eye in hopes of waking up a little. Eliza has flown in from Sydney, and it�s great to have her in Melbourne.

The Northcote Social Club has a band room full of couches and a refrigerator stocked with drinks and the ghosts of seedy bands past. Owen has an interview up there and I get to sit in, although I fear I�m completely useless. They talk about Paul Simon and the Ethiopiques and Oakland, California rap stars. After the interview the room gets flooded with the boys and whiskey and friends from Melbourne. I go outside to look for something to eat. I try to call my sister but don�t know what time it is in California and can�t for the life of me decipher international calling codes. I sit on a bench on the sidewalk and watch people going to the show.

The Northcote Social Club is very full. Portland�s own world-famous Steve Gevurtz shows up and slips behind the merch table. When Clue to Kalo plays our last show together Owen and I stand dutifully to the side with our hands clasped to our hearts. I sneak beers down from the band room upstairs. Owen plays and you�d never know the exhaustion he�s fighting (thank you, regenerative powers of whiskey). He is charming and talks a lot and brings up the not getting to see koalas and kangaroos. He stops between our songs and I get him to do-si-do with me, something I�ve wanted to do during the end of �Scattered Pearls� all tour, and later make a note that I should probably keep square dancing urges to myself in the future. We profess our undying love for Alan and Curtis and Mark and Haima and Australia. Owen sings �Graceland� again. I cry. He sings �Streets of Philadelphia.� I cry some more.

In honor of our last show in Australia we declare we will not sleep. We gather in a mob in the bar and drink our Raging Bulls and step on locals� toes. Haima takes us to a house party in his enchanted van. The lot of us clots a hallway near the washer and dryer. We raid the kitchen for chips. Alan and Mark and Sophie and Owen and I pile up in a car and get a ride to Pony in honor of not letting the night end. I drink champagne and we climb the stairs to the hottest second floor full of people who should have gone to bed hours ago. We end up on the dance floor sweating and taking pictures and gawk at the guy who has taken his shirt off and is kissing anonymous girls and another guy who is using plastic tape as a gag/leash. Oh Pony.

We get out around 5. We walk in the general direction of our hotel, stopping at the 7-11 for water and meat-flavored potato chips. I try to walk slowly so we won�t have to say goodbye, but Sophie is sick of the lot of us and hails a cab. We say goodbye to Alan and Mark on a corner by a Hungry Jack, and it�s the kind of heartbreak you usually only experience when you�re 12 on the last day of summer camp. You exchange addresses and promise to keep in touch, but you cry all the way home humming whatever song has been picked out as being the summer anthem of good times and heartbreak and meat-flavored potato chips.

We spend the next day in Melbourne recovering from our big night and walking up and down countless streets for pho. Eliza joins us for a little while but has caught the exhaustion we have, and Owen and I take a taxi back to High Street. We are grouchy and hungry and Owen has left his hoodie in Haima�s van. We have breakfast and then go our separate ways: Owen to the movies and me to the frilly dress shop and then back to the hotel to try to figure out how to turn the television on. That night we get to meet up with Steve again and finally get our pho in Fitzroy. We crowd a small table and talk too loudly about the differences between Australia and America. We catch up on Portland/Chicago/Melbourne gossip. Steve laughs his beautiful laugh, and I think it reminds us that the States aren�t so bad after all and we get to go back home soon.

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