Like most of my friends, I live for my weekends. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that for forty-eight hours, time belongs to you, and no one else – unless, of course, you would like it to. I always like to divide my weekend time with others; what is the point of life if you have no one to share it with? In a small town like this, it becomes lonely pretty quickly if you don’t prioritise the right things. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I have crazy people in my life who refuse to leave me alone and can turn the rainiest day into something fluorescent. We get our kicks for free, and that’s more than fine by us.
Two weekends ago, it was the Kumara Races. Basically, this is Greymouth’s biggest annual event, falling well-short of what a classy “race-day” spectacle should exemplify, and instead being one huge, country styled piss up. If you haven’t already been, I highly recommend your attendance, as I guarantee that this bogan festivity will not fail to entertain even the most sophisticated minds. At the very least, you are bound to witness, first-hand, some sort of classic small-town drama BS, and that is priceless compared to the ten-dollar entry fee.
What I love about the Kumara Races is that every single iconic Greymouth person is inevitably going to make an appearance. You’ll get to meet the mayor, catch up with your curly-headed neighbour whose day job is secretly being a comedian, small-talk with the hunky babe you use to crush on in high-school, make friends with the chick you always see out running but never actually talk to; it’s fabulous, and, I know, to a city-gal or big time New-Yorker, reading this right now would just be like, get a life already, who actually cares, it ain’t like these bitches are Hollywood A-listers or nothin’. But for a lot of people in our town, this is life, this is our red carpet event, and it’s great.
Out in the middle of nowhere, the Kumara Races bring life to an easily under-appreciated location. It smells like horse manure and sunshine, and there are tons of tents pitched alongside the racecourse, each with their own little clique going, chilly-bins full of ice, champagne and beer, and delicious nibbles they’re generously trying to share. Everybody is a spectator, and while I don’t go to watch the races themselves, I’m mesmerized by how beautiful the horses and ponies are; all lush, powerful, and sleek. In between tent-hopping, you walk along these dusty gravel roads, and some girls are brave or stupid enough to wear heels, but it doesn’t matter because they’re looking fine as hell, just like every other woman who has spent the past week sussing their outfit. Everybody is dressed to impress, because everybody knows that the whole town is gonna be there, and this is the one time that you can be a hot mess and get away with it. Literally, because it’s usually, like, thirty degrees or something and by about 2o’clock the guys smell like cologne and sweat, and the girls are re-applying powder that ain’t doin’ nobody good; and the best thing? Nobody even cares, because we’re all in the same boat, baby, and it’s gonna tip eventually, so we’re just enjoying the cruise while we can.
You can’t leave the Kumara Races without a good story to tell the next day. So much is happening; you only need to go to the bathroom and you’ll find girls doing lines off the toilet seat, or witness Facebook’s next viral cat-fight that resembles something from ‘Mean Girls’. I watched some of the bros get owned by an eighty year old man for being disrespectful tarts, and then owned again by a sister who reins sass like she’s channelling the soul of Rihanna. Nobody bothers with the port-a-loos, and the car park is occupied with squatters in the bush, and suspicious cigarettes being passed between circles of friends. A pretty stranger offers me eye drops, and we share one of those drunken best friend moments that will be forgotten by the time morning comes again. Girls are falling around stupid, and guys are trying too hard to get the attention of uninterested ladies; it’s actually hilarious to watch. Most people are drunk, or getting there, but everyone’s having a good time. Once, I watched my best friend’s dad belly-slide across a trailer full of ice, flapping wildly like a suffocating flounder; it was tragic, but in a heroic kind of way that made for an unforgettable exit of consciousness.
Then, there’s the after party, also known as Paroa Pub. As per usual, live music is a given and further drama and gossip is assured. Everybody is looking a bit rough by now, sunburnt and sticky, but the drinks continue, and before you know it, it’s so packed that you can’t even fit through the doorway without grinding on a fifty year old man who stealthily pretends not to notice. Things escalate, and the first sign that closing time is near are shots of tequila for those who refuse to let the night end, and crying girls who can’t get their man on a leash. Unexpectedly, you’re bound to have at least one person hurl an insult at ya, even if they’re six years older and you’ve only ever shared one well-mannered conversation; and if you’re lucky, you’ll be impolitely told to back off somebody’s past-lover, which really does boost the self-confidence levels when you’re intentions are clean. It’s a brilliant place to be, wild and loud, full of energy and alcoholic tragedies. And it’s yours, for free.
But, of course, long days and even longer nights don’t last forever, and all too soon, Sunday morning will come. Tired eyed, hung-over, un-showered, or for the like-minded, fresh as a daisy, you will awaken to the sad return of reality that your weekend is almost over. Nevertheless, it’s these kinds of days that make me thankful for the beautiful people who surround me with great minds and even greater love. We might kick it at the beach, lounge around watching movies and drinking tea, grab lunch at the brewery in town, drive around endlessly looking for secret locations yet to be discovered, all while piecing together the latest gossip or addition to our life stories’. It doesn’t really matter – we all spend our weekends the same way; in the greatest company, getting entertainment outta nothing or something, and sharing our lives’ with the people that matter. Sure, it may be a small town full of drama and misrepresentations, but it is also full of treasure and memories waiting to be made. Appreciate the people, and maybe you’ll find the key to our little world of happiness.