Sometimes all it takes is a song – one that you haven’t heard for years – and you are instantly transported back to a distinct time or place in your life.
Hoodoo Gurus songs were the soundtrack of my first year at University. I was a very young, nervous, apparently “straight” and naïve seventeen year old. Setting foot on campus at the University of Queensland (UQ) opened my eyes to not only a whole new range of people, but also to a plethora of new experiences and feelings. Coming from the sheltered environment of an independent girls’ school, ‘O Week’ at UQ felt like a Rave Party crossed with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – minus the floats, obviously. I had never seen so many ‘alternative’ types of people. Besides the presence of males everywhere, which was an unfamiliar phenomenon for me, there were people from all lifestyles. I felt well and truly out of my depth. Whilst it was terribly exciting, walking through the massive Great Court made me feel like I might as well have been in a different universe.
At the end of year 12, my high school administration had organised some tertiary preparation information sessions. One of these was a presentation by a motley crew of University students who belonged to the Newman Society – the Catholic students’ group at the University of Queensland. Whilst I doubt any of them would ever have been regulars on the socialite pages of the Uni newspaper, they seemed like genuinely friendly and intelligent people. They invited interested students to be involved in an ‘Orientation Camp’ – a weekend getaway at Caloundra – at the start of the following year as a means of meeting new people. They discussed the benefits of having a friendship group and ‘drop in centre’ on campus for those who would not know many people in their new environment. Nerdy as it was, this immediately appealed to me. A friend was going to accompany me, however she pulled out at the last minute, so I became one of several solitary ‘first years’ to be welcomed into the group.
It was through this group that I met Kate. And it was Kate who introduced me to not only the Hoodoo Gurus, but also the dizzying highs and devastating lows of being head over heels in love.
I noticed her immediately at ‘O’ Camp. It wasn’t so much her physical appearance that caught my initial attention, it was the way the others all flocked around her. I recall watching her, in skin tight jeans that hugged her shape, and bare feet. She sat on the floor amongst the older, more experienced members of the group – male and female – and the antics and conversation all seemed to centre around her. I wondered what it was about her that drew the others to her in that way. I craved to belong like she so obviously did.
From that moment, I knew I needed to, and would, get to know her.
Whilst the older students on the camp were incredibly friendly to the newbies, there were very much two distinct groups on camp: the old crew, and the rookies. A couple of the self-nominated ‘leaders’ of the old crew group looked after the handful of new group members, making us feel welcome and ensuring we enjoyed ourselves.
It wasn’t until we started life back at Uni that I had any real opportunity to talk to Kate.
It so happened that Kate mentioned that she was going to attend an introductory lecture for a Sociology subject known as ‘An Introduction to Health and Illness in Society’. She was going along on her own, so I asked if I could tag along. She kindly responded that she would love the company.
I don’t remember much about the pleasantries we exchanged along the way to the lecture, but I do remember that I immediately felt comfortable and at ease with Kate. She was six years older than me: outwardly calm yet quietly confident, intelligent and extremely perceptive. It is strange but from the outset I felt protected and safe with her.
I knew immediately why the others in the group liked her so much.
After the lecture, which I absolutely loved, we talked about where we lived and how we were getting home – as it turned out I drove past Kate’s area on my way home, so I offered her a ride. She gratefully accepted. Given she had time to spare as she no longer had to catch the bus, she suggested grab a coffee before heading off. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend more time with her. During the course of our conversation I found myself confiding in her – we chatted for ages about anything and everything. Kate listened, and she shared too. It was just so easy and comfortable. We continued our conversation all the way home, with her favourite Hoodoo Gurus songs playing on my cassette player.
As we said goodbye, Kate hugged me. It was heartfelt and genuine.
As I drove away, I felt this strange excited feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I didn’t really know why, but for more reasons than simply my newfound appreciation for the Hoodoo Gurus, I truly felt on top of the world.