Train I Ride

Train I Ride

Had one of those little moments of self-doubt the other day. (Yep, I have them too.)

Where you wonder, just for a moment, if it would be easier to play by the rules. To accept things as they are. To seek comfort before meaning. To accept, and be an apologist for Things as They Are.

A little difficult to fit in, here in Siem Reap. I’m a foreigner, already a weird minority. Even if I tried to fit the rank and file of English teachers or nonprofit workers, I still come off like a Martian to people from the deep countryside. And I’d still come home to a crocodile farm at my doorstep.

I could go ‘home’ to USA. Living with my family would be an imposition, and LA under Schwarzenegger (‘the Gropinator’) has as much appeal as dental surgery. I’d have to move to something new, not back to the familiar.

Then there’s Australia. Half a decade has passed since 53 Hunter Street.

I went back in 2002, and caught up a bit.

Malvern Stars are now Braddock Coalition, shifting to books and magazines from tiny small press. Musicman created a virtual memorial to his sharehouse, just up the road. Mandy published a book and has another on the way. Kirrily and lots more went back to art school. Amber wrangled some arty jobs, published an anthology and had a kid. Laura Panic returned from youth festival burnout to rock the house. Tim moved to New Zealand, where his girlfriend lets him draw all day. Shags is a full-time graphic designer. The Pox Girls live out in the countryside.

The community is still there but we’re not fresh faced kids anymore. I couldn’t return and reprise my role if I wanted to. Even though I’ve been marked deeper than any tattoo by my travels.

Our relationship with the scene changes over time. People leave, people change, people grow. Factsheet Five’s Mike Gunderloy dropped out of zinedom to live on a farm. Pete Ashton did the same for a while. Mike and Carla Sinclair of Boing-Boing moved to the Pacific; their former fringe zine is now a top-ranked blog. Stratu turned to Jesus. Dougo left Cave Clan. John Porcellino is still pumping out King –Cat. Jeff ‘Destroy All Comics’ Levine, now stripblogging. Webcomix pioneer Jesse Reklaw still weekly, now published and syndicated.

The travel bug hit me later than I thought it was possible. I think of places like Dunedin, with Tony Renouf ecstatically extolling its virtues. Late nights and anggur putih in Yogyakarta, where everyone’s a secret friend you have yet to meet. Cold, bright Hobart’s gothic secrets and surprises around every corner. Maybe candidate spots for retirement. I always had plans. And they’re not half finished.

Landmines, blood-sucking leeches, wanna-be gangsters, pollution, crappy food, stultifying bureaucracy, indifference: throw it all at me. I’ll have it for breakfast.

There is no way back. It doesn’t exist. Maybe the good times weren’t always that great. Or maybe they’re just a hint of the fun on the road ahead.

Either way, that’s where I’m going.


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