30 November 2013

Our apartment was always littered with glasses and mugs. They never confined themselves to a single room, they followed our scattered paths—all excitement and groans—as we got ready each night. Evidence of how we led our lives, and the liquids that fuelled them.

We pulled at our wardrobes until clothes fell onto our bodies. We’d suck at bottles as we painted our faces in the bathroom, littering the floor with glitter and perfume. In the low weeks I would perch myself on the edge of the dining table, alongside the rubble of complex books—dictionaries, textbooks and our own illegible notes. On good weeks our living room smelt of pasta.

In the early hours of the morning, I would watch my beloved housemate re-boil the kettle to pour her fourth cup of tea with the same tea bag. It was her nightly routine as we studied amid stale air, unwashed cutlery and the newly bought toilet paper, which remained abandoned on the kitchen floor. Our mess of papers and ageing bound texts were proof that universities had been ensuring deforestation since 1853, but still we secretly thanked them. They replaced our vodka bottles with Red Bull cans from time to time, and we needed that.

Laura was easily a head shorter than me, but that never stopped me from looking up to her. We had met in our first year at uni, both studying the same majors. We were equal friends, and housemates, neither dominating. I loved feeling the warmth of her maturity lingering in our conversations. We lived in a cramped 1970s-style apartment, little over a block from campus. In our two years together we never went out for coffee, or even shared a dinner at home. We kept our meals and cleaning duties separate, only managing to share toilet paper and cooking oil. We shared our friends too, and naturally our little apartment often became the mattress to many bodies, and the pre-drinking venue to most events.

On the Friday nights of study weeks, Lygon Street was always packed with those outside of the university timetable. These gaggles of people would dress up to enjoy dinner on the famous strip. They bruised the pavement and stained door handles. With our heads down, Laura and I would make it past them to the convenience store, often wearing pyjamas and ugg boots.

“Two meat pies. Yes tomato sauce. Cheers.”

We would open the packets and bite into the stale edges before reaching our apartment gate. Pies became our winter study breaks, our nightly craving that we had trained ourselves to devourer. The pastries were often hard, overheated, and dry. Extra sauce would have been nice, but we gorged ourselves all the same.

It was in these years that I learnt not about Plato or Hindenburg but rather how to remain awake for 36 straight hours studying, how to stretch and push myself for my friends, and when to empty my stomach into a gutter to avoid a severe hangover.

On the really tedious nights, I would look across the table at Laura, wondering if she was having the same idea as me. We rarely admitted our favouritism; we would frequently abandon each other for better offers from separate friends. But on those long nights of continuous academic inquiry, Laura would look from her empty wrapper to me.

“Let’s get another pie.”

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