Carl and I, together with our ‘only’ child, have left the ‘big smoke’ for a few days on the farm in Mittagong. For me it’s a much needed time of de-stress after taking Miss Arabella to the airport, first thing Saturday morning.
It was a few weeks before Christmas when Arabella came to me and said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you, mum’.
I said, ‘What now?’
‘I went on-line and bought myself a trip to New York’. These are the dangers of the internet.
‘You can’t be serious’.
‘I am, mum. I’m going in March and I’ll be gone for four weeks.’
‘Who are you going with?’
‘No one. I just want to go by myself’. That’s because she has never travelled by herself and has no idea what it’s all about.
‘And I’ll be going to China too’.
‘The cheapest flight I could get was with a Chinese airline so I’m flying to some random airport in China and then four and a half hours later I board the plane for LA’.
‘How many hours will it take you to get to LA?’
‘Thirty hours? You know if you fly direct you can get there in 14?’ What a route-march. Clearly, the March up-up-and-away plans never eventuated due to a series of events I’ll spare you. As she didn’t go in March, she had to change her ‘cheap-flight’ to LA and with all the penalties she now had the most expensive economy flight to LA.
The day before she was due to fly, I had no less than one thousand things to do in all corners of Sydney. As I ran from the house to my car at dawn’s breaking light I yelled a list of things she needed to do to prepare for her early departure the next morning.
When I arrived home well after sunset, she was curled up on the carpet in the foetal position right in front of the heater with a doona wrapped around her. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I can’t do anything, mum’.
‘Have you done those things you need to do to get ready for your flight?’
‘I’m too stressed. I just haven’t been able to move away from the heater’. That’s where she’d spent the day. I poured myself a wine. We then scooped her up off the floor and took her out for dinner where suddenly the stress left her and she was all excited about her pending adventure.
The next morning we were up before the sparrows and we drove her to the airport. Her Chinese flight was at the furthest corner of the terminal and it had the lengthiest queue. And the queue moved slowly. By the time we made it to the counter almost every seat was taken except for those seats no one wants to sit in. Apparently the travel agent was supposed to pre-book her a seat but this was over-looked. She was now squeezed into a middle seat in the middle section at the rear of the plane.
After her bag was checked in I noticed she didn’t seem to have any hand luggage except for one small handbag. ‘Where’s your hand luggage?’
‘I don’t have any’. She also didn’t have a passport wallet and so all her documents and papers were roaming around in her handbag ready to fall out or be stolen or lost. ‘When you get to LA buy yourself a passport wallet so you know where all your paperwork is. And then go and buy a bag for all your carry-on stuff. You can’t walk onto the plane carrying all your books and magazines; you need something to put them in’.
And then we realised we had been in the baggage queue for so long that her plane would be boarding in 10 minutes and she hadn’t even been through immigration. ‘You have to go or you’ll miss your flight’.
That’s when the tears started and I managed one quick photo before after a prolonged hug, my daughter was off to LA via some remote city in China and then from there, to New York City all by herself. A big thank you to Joanne from Eats Well With Others for being so kind to say Arabella can contact her at any time. Let me know if she does, Joanne!
Meanwhile, down on the farm it’s freezing. It was 5C (41F) yesterday but with the 60km/hr winds, the ‘real’ temperature was -1C (30.2F). I’ve been staying pretty close to the fireplace and venturing outside only when necessary.
Miss Arabella has been phoning me via Viber and all is well although there were a few situs with the Chinese-leg of her flight. Seat allocation is apparently regarded as optional and when she boarded her flight there was a man in her seat who refused to move. He wanted to be in that row with his wife, two children and a baby being bounced on a knee. I’d say she got a lucky escape. She was moved towards the back of the plane to sit in that man’s allocated seat but when she sat down the man beside her asked if she could move further to the back and swap with his wife so he and his wife could sit together. So she moved again but then there was a problem with that seat so she was moved again to the back row of the plane next to the very noisy and constantly-in-use toilets. By then she was beside herself and in tears. She called for the steward and told him she had been moved three times and that she didn’t want to sit in such an awful part of the plane when it wasn’t even her allocated seat. Fortunately he was a compassionate chap and she was moved further forward to an exit row with a spare seat next to her.
So while Arabella is whooping it up in youth hostels in dodgy parts of the USA, I’m down on the farm letting go of my stress – it will be a gradual process.
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