Every bird has to leave the nest, even when that nest is in a World Heritage area. And when some dumb airport gets proposed in that same region, and both the Liberals and the Labors decide to agree for the first time ever, well, that bird is going to flap its wings with extra gusto.
Two young lads, driven out of the Blue Mountains by hitherto-unheard-of-political-agreement, left their families behind and moved into a share house with two other friends in Sydney’s Inner West. Even in the lead-up to moving, it was difficult not to anticipate the nostalgia they would one day feel about this period of freedom, fun, and future identity formation. One day, when they would each be stuck in loveless marriages, going through the motions, making that dollar and growing that family, their minds would flicker back to their time in Summer Hill. They would look back with immeasurable fondness on their times staying up late playing video games, spending too much money on takeaway coffees despite owning an expensive coffee machine, and trying to outdo each other in making the least nutritionally beneficial dinners possible. And once they moved in, it played out just as they had anticipated. And things were good.
But happiness has a way of slipping away from the party unnoticed. One of the housemates, having been smitten with the same woman since the very first day of Kindergarten, finally proposed in October, and the two were engaged to be married. Initially, celebrations were rife in the household: champagne from the previous year’s work Christmas bonus was popped open, hugs were had, and fists were pumped. All three of the unengaged housemates were unabashedly congratulatory, even going so far as to take the engagement photo that would do the rounds on Facebook and the such. Despite the initially positive response, a different mood—engendered by a thinly veiled jealousy of finding one’s soulmate—began to slowly take shape within the house. Whenever the newly engaged couple were around, a miasma of bitterness filled the air: whichever room they entered soon emptied, their TV rights were somehow taken away, and they were never offered cups of tea. Eventually, the resentment grew to be too much.
When Christmas neared, the couple purchased a towering Christmas tree for the boys’ house, as well as a neat tree stand that cost $45 alone. The two of them spent all afternoon fitting it and the living room out with bunting, baubles, and other hangable banalities. But that night, when all was a-hush and not a creature was stirring, the tree toppled over. It went unheard, but could not stay unseen, for if a tree falls in the night, and no one is around to see it, it’s still there in the morning. When the four lads awoke to see the pine needles and baubles splashed across the floor, the past month’s pent-up antagonism broke out among them, each blaming the others for just about any defect ever accommodated by this miserable world.
A relentless spray of acrimonious words hurtled back and forth between each of them, until insults ran dry and the slow fog of regret began to descend upon the room. Anger being no easily expendable resource, they each wearily collapsed back onto the couch without further utterance, and sat silently in each other’s company for a few minutes. But silence, like fine china, is destined to break, and it was soon broken by a mindless chatter, tinged with a soft embarrassment that hinted at a mutual longing for an immediate but unspoken reconciliation.
Inevitably, this chatter soon led to an impromptu a cappella rendition of Sufjan’s Angels We Have Heard On High. This made way for the spontaneous creation of five original Christmas songs, borne of a dark period but signifying a beautiful new place. Upon breathlessly composing and recording them, all done within thirty-five minutes, the four young men exhaled in unison, eager to make the most of the five months they had until the wedding. Though jealousy had threatened, Christmas had prevailed.
released December 21, 2016
All songs by Miles Elkington and Garth Travers, except Track 3 by Thom Davies
Female vocals by Kathleen Travers
Cello by Sam Buckingham-Jones
Album artwork by Emily Travers
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