I'm 10, standing in the caravan, reading the back of a Guns n' Roses album, Use Your Illusion I, to find out what the heart tugging rock song is. "Nothin' lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change. And it's hard to hold a candle, in the cold November rain." Axl Rose croons the words in his harsh but emotive voice. The piano & strings create a melancholy landscape to paint on, layers upon layers throughout the song tumbling the imagination and emotions together, the guitar solo cutting to the core. "Sometimes I need some time all alone. Everybody needs some time on their own. Don't you know you need some time all alone." It speaks to me, although I haven't experienced a romantic relationship yet, and wouldn't for another 6 years. "So never mind the darkness, we still can find a way, 'cause nothin' lasts forever, even cold November rain." The guitar squeals in, changing the tone, words being chanted angry and accusatory. "Don't ya think that you need someone. Everybody needs somebody. You're not the only one." Pleas are over, only the underlying frustration remains.

All around is the familiarity of our farm. The tagasastes are in full bloom, cricket songs fill the air, long dry oats and grass twining through the wire fence where it hasn't been trodden down or eaten. The earth beneath the grass is a deep rich red. Sheep are calling each other in the next paddock over. I am home and I know this place, but home is now also a wonderland for the weekend.

The brother I idolise has just graduated from highschool and is hosting a School Leavers weekend on our farm in the paddock below the house. The caravan has been set up as the sound system for a paddock full of tents and campervans. AC/DC, Guns n' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Alice Cooper all have a high rotation. There are portaloos set up in one corner of the paddock; the ongoing party is its own little ecosystem that doesn't need the house at all. Older kids are everywhere, and there's enough there that I can keep hanging out with them most of the time, never being in one cluster of people long enough to become the hated irritating younger sibling brat. I am taught poker, betting with matchsticks in a cosy campervan, alcohol being passed around the group that won't be able to legally drink it until their birthdays next year. I am not allowed any alcohol, of course. It is understood that I am both part of and separate from the party.




The years march on and the weekend becomes a memory. Driving along, Gun n' Roses comes on the radio, the piano coming in strong and the strings mellowing it out. I am instantly transported back in time, the sounds of the party surrounding me as I stand alone in the caravan, just me, the album cover, and the song filling my mind and heart. November Rain will always be this time and place for me.