Relationships are hard, one-night stands can be perfect

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A week ago, I went for dinner with my zia, cousin and his wife to a lovely Italian establishment just off Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.

My cousin and his wife are south-siders, so I spent the five-minute walk from my place attempting to explain to them that, “Just because Fitzroy is grungy and dark, doesn’t mean murderers are on every corner. It’s not Gotham City.” Despite my best efforts, I still saw them clutching their pearls.

Sure, sometimes we want bigger things than a fun night at a house party, but sometimes, those evenings can be just as important as long-term relationships.Credit: iStock

As we approached the restaurant, I spotted a woman sitting outside with a group of friends. Immediately, I knew exactly who this person was. As she turned her head and clocked me, she knew who I was too. She started laughing. And then I started laughing. We nodded at one another, much like the ending of La La Land, and moved on.

When we sat down at my table, my zia, cousin, his wife asked what I knew was coming:

“Roby, who was that?”

To answer this, we need to go back in time a touch. A year, to be exact.

It was August 2022, and I had just broken up with a long-term girlfriend. Earlier that week, she had moved out of our shared apartment and I was, to put it mildly, depressed as shit. So when some friends invited me to a house party in Fitzroy North, I decided that, instead of sitting alone in our apartment on a Saturday night, I would go out and socialise. On the fly, I shaved both sides of my head, leading to my first-ever mullet.

When I got to the party, I was disappointed to find my friends weren’t there yet. I knew a couple of people from uni, and chatted with them. I liked these people, but none of them were best friends, or anything of the like, and as such, I drank. A lot. Partially because I was anxious, but more so because this was my first proper social outing since the break-up. I was terrified.

In one of my trips towards the communal bar, I overheard a woman telling a story to a random gentleman about a podcast I was familiar with – Do Go On. Being pretty intoxicated by this point, I launched myself into the conversation. After a few minutes, the gentleman had departed.

From that first conversation about the podcast, we started talking about work, and life, and relationships, and people, and music, and films, and art, and all other things drunk people talk about at a house party. It was perfect. We smoked and replicated a scene in The Worst Person in the World, in which the main character blows smoke into the mouth of a person she meets at, funnily enough, a house party where she knows no one.

Because my nonna will read this, I won’t go into the intricacies of the rest of the evening, but, you’re more than welcome to use your own imagination.

Over breakfast the next day, I described the events of the evening to my friends. They were happy for me, as they knew the turbulent path I had been on following my break-up. My closest friend, Josh, remarked, “See, I told you there are plenty of tattooed, blonde, artistic fish from Fitzroy North in the sea,” which I never really understood until now.

On my triumphant walk home, mullet and all, I received a message from the woman I had shared a wonderful evening with. She told me, in short, that what had happened the night earlier was fun, and that maybe we should just keep it at that. You know, the famous euphemism: What happens at a party in Fitzroy North, stays at a party in Fitzroy North. Or something like that.

I stuck to her wishes, and agreed that we should keep it at that. We did, in-fact, never speak again. But, we continued to like one another’s photos on Instagram. I still have her number saved in my phone as “Do Go On girl”.

When I recognised her outside the restaurant last weekand she laughed, it was almost as if I saw an entire life of possibility flow from it.

Sure, sometimes we want bigger things than a fun night at a house party, but sometimes, those evenings can be just as important as long-term relationships. They form an almost mythological aura; as if they can never be ruined by the crushing realism that is … reality. I never found myself hating her guts, or being annoyed by her parents, because it never got to that level. She never came to despise my inability to commit to anything.

It got me thinking about how, despite never texting her again, no one can take away those moments we shared at that house party. No one can change that. We had this incredibly special night at a time when I needed such a thing, and judging by her laugh and her smile, I would like to think that she needed the same thing.

Roby D’Ottavi is a writer and director based in Melbourne.

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