So I'm drinking in an English bar in Paris, drinking rapidly and heavily. I'm in an English bar because it is three doors to my hotel, and I'm too drunk to attempt ordering another drink in my appalling French.
There is a trivia quiz underway, a few friendly English folk have encouraged me to join in, I've politely refused, I'm here to drink, not think. It's ANZAC Day in Australia, I've had a fight with my girl over a crackly phone line, my thoughts are elsewhere. The distance between Paris in Melbourne are as far away as thoughts can be, in so many ways.
The quiz is up to round four, the final round, the friendly team beside me are in the running to win. It seems they've tried many times before, been beaten by the information technology types at the other end of the bar every time. The final question, the name of the test cricket ground in Brisbane Australia. Groans from around the bar, no one can remember. I lean over, whisper, The Gabba. Am I sure? Of course I'm bloody sure. It's in the suburb of Woolloongabba, it's called The Gabba. I'm asked for spelling, the information is dubiously accepted in the absence of any other ideas.
My new friends win the trivia quiz by one question. It seems the information technology types are not big sports fans. I'm slapped on the back, bought a drink.
I don't care, drift back to thoughts of repairing my relationship in the morning, wondering if I want to save it, why am I here and her there? I'm bought another drink.
It seems this trivia quiz win means more to my new friends than one would consider normal, three hours later I am awash with ale, not one franc has left my pocket. I stagger back to my tiny hotel room, reach for the phone, "I knew The Gabba so my new friends bought me lots of drinks and I'm sorry I'm not there". It's recorded on her answering machine, there is no way to fix it, to explain.
I have to wait twenty four hours for the time zone to cooperate with me. A long, anxious day in Paris, a long anxious night. I hear her voice, she is giggling, knows me well enough to have deciphered my message, tells me what I got up to last night before I can explain, even guesses the circumstances of a trivia quiz, assures me our fight wasn't such a big deal, orders me to have a good time, and to come home soon, but what the hell is The Gabba? I explain that it really doesn't matter.
Years later, sitting on my bed in St. Kilda, Melbourne, just around the corner from where we once lived together, my thoughts again very far away, over time not distance. Knowing facts, knowing Paris, knowing how to win, nothing compared to knowing who loves you.