Getting that little red and white plate seemed so long ago. And I guess it was, now I think of it. Seven years ago is a long time when you’re only in your twenties.

Learning to drive, like most things you learn when you’re 16, was a turbulent time. I sucked at hill starts and was dodgy with the clutch. I was the oldest of our year, so I got to start learning and logging my hours first.

In those twelve months a lot changed for me. I did the most growing I’d done so far. I ticked off a lot of firsts.

My first kiss (disastrous). My first night drinking (ended in vomiting all the next day). My first party (smoked a cigar). My first time living out of home (was awesome. My aunt and uncle are the best). My first look at boys in the real world (much better looking. Much better music taste). Throwing my first party (an absolute fail).

Overall, it was a fun time. I grew, I drank, I lived. I put myself back together after a few years of being broken.

The year of our P Plates, everything changed. Relationships became more serious. Fights lasted longer. Hobbies were replaced with hangovers.

We drove through the streets in the early hours of the morning, slightly tipsy but determined nonetheless. If you had a car, you were designated driver, regardless of how many Crusiers you’d inhaled.

We learnt about the beauty of day drinking and held a 10 hour party in my pool in the middle of summer. We consumed a carton and went on a big old mission that ended with eating parmi’s out the front of the Bowls Club at 9pm on a Sunday night. The result was heatstroke and headaches and vowing never to consume sugary drinks again (we did).

We brought Singstar back from the dead, and suddenly no party was complete unless everyone had had a turn on the red and blue mics. We sounded rubbish but we didn’t care. Everyone sung along together like we were at a concert or something. It was the best.

We spent afternoons simply driving around town, windows down and music cranked. We’d head to the local fishing spots for something to do. We’d sneak out of school at lunch to fulfill takeaway orders from the bakery.

So many notes were forged. Notes to have blocks off. Notes to leave the school at lunch. Notes to acknowledge we’d failed to complete our homework. I was always the best at creating signatures for the parents who worked on shift. Between our lives and theirs, who could blame us for forgetting to show a permission slip or two?

We’d walk the streets at night, having dnm’s and sharing secrets, creating dares and sneaking off to meet ‘just a friend’.

We saw each other through heartbreaks and divorces and new siblings and troubles at home. We didn’t share everything, but what we did share was always accepted with a vote of confidence.

The magazines we read became our go-to’s for advice on boys (because as if you could ask your parents that kind of stuff) and somewhere along the lines we became experts on love and sex and relationships and casual relationships and drunken kisses. We navigated the waters in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and eventually you’d all end up dating someone’s ex or one of your friends.

I often wonder what it was like for teenagers in cities growing up. What circumstances, beyond their backdrops, set them apart from us? Did they experience all that we did, in the same way? Or could they make decisions on a whim and not fear the consequences because they’d probably never see the person again?

Despite my constant moaning and complaining about living where we did, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was dull, sure, but that meant we had to make our own fun.

And make our own fun we did.

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February 25, 2019

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