TFBC: The CanTeen-age Dream

Cancer – the sexiest of aphrodisiacs, no?

Ok so, during high-school I was heavily involved with the charity CanTeen. I joined when Mum was going through breast cancer treatment, because I wanted to meet people who had ‘been there, done that’. The age-old adage of needing empathy, not sympathy rang true for me.

I remember going to my first overnight camp worried I’d be stuck with a cult of weirdos. And true, there were actually a few paste-eaters, no point sugar coating it! But overall, CanTeen camps were a bubble of safety and raw vulnerability that made me feel alive, understood and purely happy. They were the highlight of my teen years – getting out of Busselton and meeting new people from all over Australia. I was an active Member until about 2012 – having silly camp crushes, finding true friends and losing myself in the programs.

The CanTeen world is a microcosm impossible to properly articulate once outside it. It was and still is unnerving how life-long bonds were made in the space of a few high-intensity hours. I think it was because we could really be our unfiltered selves – a refreshing break from the endless pose-fest that is being a teenager. And with our guards down, we got up to some pretty strange antics.

Take for example on Summer Division in January 2009, when myself and another Member *Steve staged a faux wedding, simply because at the time he was wearing a suit and I was wearing a white dress. It was a sunset beach moment, and another Member turned it into a photo shoot. So bizarre, I know. Moreover, for years Steve and I had engaged in this brother-sister dynamic, whilst also flirting outrageously. Someone phone the TLC Network, Sisterwives has some competition.

Coming home from said Summer Division, I was soon hit with big news – I had secured an accommodation scholarship at Murdoch Uni. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I ticked all the selection criteria; from a rural area, a lower socio-economic family, with good (enough) marks. I grew up knowing how to speed-fill a Centrelink form and I genuinely could not have gone to uni without the help. But I still felt like a fraud, because my incredibly resourceful parents had always protected me from the harsh financial realities of life. I didn’t believe my Cinderella foot fit the ‘disadvantaged’ means-tested slipper.

Moving to Perth alone in a little over three weeks was a daunting thought. With my high-school friends taking their ‘gap-year’ (read: on Contiki trips, downing bucket cocktails in the Greek Islands), I thankfully had my CanTeen friends ready to cushion the blow. Especially old mate Steve.

Six years my senior, Steve was a little 5’6” firecracker. Sweary, gruff but incredibly soulful, he was always providing the laughs and finger-pistol dance moves. Together we looked ridiculous, like Danny Devito & Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins. Honestly,  to this day I can’t work out what the magnetism was… but as I type this there’s still a sly smile creeping to my face.

Our first hook up was a pretty standard drunken fumble. I remember I was over at his house, wearing these awful acid wash Levis, and we were drinking from a hip-flask (how retro). I also remember I was still with Seth. I’ll beat you to the punch – what a fucking bitch, right? That first night we didn’t actually sleep together… but if you’re a cheater and your defence revolves around penetrative specifics, just face it, you’re clutching at straws. Accept yourself for the piece of shit you are.

In an attempt to legitimize a stupid move as a ‘meant to be’ moment, Steve and I started dating. And for about six months, it was really fucking fun.  We raised our pint glasses to the roof at the old Hydey, dancing wildly to Eagles of Death Metal. We endured a strong 70s porn Movember moustache, and metabolized countless mojitos at X-Wray on many a sultry Sunday afternoon. We coordinated and ran a CanTeen program together to the bemusement of all the staff. We played house in a shitty studio apartment on Goderich Street, making disappointing stir-fries for each other. It was like the cheap, larrikin, loud-mouthed version of an actual relationship. Everyone was confused by it, and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much.

I will always think fondly of Steve, because he helped me through a lot. When my Daewoo Lanos broke down on the Forrest Highway and I possessed nothing but a Nokia 3310 and a Wolf Creek complex, he calmed me down. When I really wanted to quit Law School, he listened patiently and let me cry until I needed a nap. We knew each other so well, meaning I could trust him wholeheartedly – something that was missing in my high-school relationship. And look, as I said he was 5’6” and I’m 5’11” – in a physical sense we were puzzle pieces from different jigsaws. But he was charismatic and energetic… and that translated everywhere. Strong trust ensures you have the confidence to try new things. Wink, wink indeed.

On New Year’s Eve 2009 we went to a weird doof of sorts at Port Beach. It was windy, cold and decidedly un-fun. To pass the time we had fantastically drunken car sex which our friends ruined by standing right outside the station wagon, cackling and essentially commentating play-by-plays the entire duration. Afterwards, I vaguely remember starting a fight about nothing (shock) and then stupidly saying I loved him – which we both knew wasn’t true. By that point  we were flogging a dead horse; the sibling dynamic was back. Happy New Year, bro.

Shortly after New Year I went back home for a week, and unsurprisingly met up with Seth. We got day-time high and lay in the park, and I could feel there was unfinished business between us. In a totally 18 year old move, I broke up with Steve by simply changing my Facebook status to Single… fuck, I know right. He justifiably hated me for a bit. I don’t think I wanted to be a cheater on both ends of the relationship. So I was just a teenage dirtbag instead.

Fast forward to present day, Steve has an amazing fiancé and a beautiful life filled with adopted doggos – just as he deserves. In this instance, I was the fuckboy.
Poor Steve Brady, I was such a Miranda Hobbes to him.
All said and done though, it was a really fun episode of Sex and the Perth City.

Moral of the story: It’s illegal to marry your brother for a reason.
Also if you need help filling out a Centrelink form, hit me up – I bloody love it.

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