Twenty Years in the Making

Having not opted to ay for WiFi during the flight, this post will be published sometime later today. For now, it’s less than two hours until we are due to land, and it am increasingly excited, and even rather emotional about meeting my old friend on her home turf.

This journey began, though I didn’t know it then, twenty years ago when Vicki and I worked alongside each other in overlapping but quite different rôles. We got on, which was just as well as the management wasa shambles, and those of us further down the food chain were taking the flak. At least I had others doing the same work as I was, Vicki was on her own, and she became the scapegoat for many failed and failing management decisions.

The list of tasks for which she was suddenly deemed solely responsible became as long as the London telephone directory. It took its toll. Her husband, initially sympathetic, started to glaze ver when she talked about what was going on at work. She’d come round to mine, and while I made meals, she told Cat her woes. As I’d been telling him mine too, he was well on the way to completing the hours needed to be a counsellor, though I don’t know who his supervisor would have been.

Things got worse and eventually we both quit. I baled first. Vicki headed back to Melbourne telling me I must visit, and me saying yes of course I would.

Time passed. I had increasing responsibility for Mother, and long haul was not on the cards. Cat died. Vicki drank a toast to his memory and mourned him almost as much as I did. Her marriage came to an end. I can’t recall whether it was Mother or her husband who died first, but her parents and sibling also needed support, so our hands were pretty full.

She made a passing visit to London two summers ago, having been at a conference in Eastern Europe. We caught up, found we still got on, and again she renewed her invitation. About this time last year, knowing that Aunt had at best only a few months to live I decided it was time. That sounds very decisive. It wasn’t. Aunt’s imminent death made me again consider my own mortality. It’s all very well saying I’ll go to Australia one day, but when will that one day come. So I suppose you could say Aunt helped me; Aunt and her modest wish list of things to do and places to see before she became to weak or unwell to leave her home. Also the knowledge that Mother always intended to visit the family in Canada but realised one day she had left it too late.

November 2016 seemed a good time, and I started to tell people of my plan. I had not at this stage told Vicki. It occurred to me that might be a good idea. I emailed her. Silence. Oh no, I thought, maybe she’s only been asking me because she doesn’t think I’d come. As it turned out she’d been away and not looked at her emails. So I booked the flights, talked vaguely about what I’d like to do, and she made suggestions – Tasmania!? – Yes! I said. Meanwhile the family tom toms started to spread the word, three cousins to see, one of whom I have never ever met, and Octavia’s relations and friends in Melobourne and Sydney, some of whom I have met in London, also made welcoming noises. I had thought of Airbnb, but it seems that I shall mostly be accommodated by these kind people, which is nothing short of marvellous.

There’s always a risk when you stay with friends that being in much closer proximity over a period of time that you start to find each other irritating. We have agreed to say if we are uncomfortable, if it’s not working, and I hope that means we allow each other space. And not just each other. Vicki’s partner who I have never met will be there too, and the dog. We shall see.

According to the screen in front of me, we have less than an hour and a half until we land. The journey has not been as arduous as I had feared, though that may be tempting fate and tomorrow. I get antsy on a one hour flight to Belfast, so the prospect of twelve hours followed by seven was something I was dreading. I’ll try to read my book for a while but anticipation and excitement is welling up like an unstoppable fountain, and concentration may not be good. I have already watched a Danish film based on true stories of abuse in orphanages in that country during the 1960s which was hard viewing but good, and a film I am pretty certain I shouldn’t’t have seen anywhere else.

There has just been an announcement about the card we have to fill in for Australian immigration, a timely reminder perhaps that it’s not over until I am through passport control and customs, but I am oh so nearly there!


11 thoughts on “Twenty Years in the Making

  1. Hope you had a safe landing, cleared immigration and have been welcomed by your friend
    ….what an odd in flight movie.!
    Oh and thanks for the forwarded info on Pullens Yard!

  2. Happy travels, Isobel. Somehow the thought of you being turned away at customs is very funny – probably because it seems so improbable. Having said that – I remember how threatening Russian immigration officials looked as they stared at me and then my passport and then at me and then my passport… The Cuban officials were less threatening – but still seemed a bit stressed and abrupt, probably because they had the problem of making me understand what they needed from me using English with a heavy accent. I look forward to hearing of your travels.

      • We landed in Havana. A small airport with three doors going to the tarmac – one or two planes loading at any one time. For a city of 2.3 to 3 million people. We also found the people hospitable, relaxed and very respectful.

  3. Great that the flights weren’t as bad as you’d feared. Now you’re there and I’m looking forward to your first impressions. I loved Australia, and found it such an easy place to visit.

    • No, they don’t spray anymore, though that has happened to me somewhere else. Actually, it would be quite good to be sprayed with Deet when you arrive in some countries. I am still sporting three Singapoean mosquito bites!

  4. I’m just back from my own adventures and running on overtime; you are now a day ahead of us. This does sound very exciting and I, for one, am looking forward to detailed posting.

  5. I hope you are enjoying your first day in Melbourne. I hear from J that the weather is not too bad. Melbourne is thought to be the most European of all the Australian cities, so I think you’ll find yourself feeling relatively at home for starters.

  6. love your point about making these decisions while we can – I have had plans for the longest time to visit Octavia’s and my rellies in Melbourne, and others in the USA, and to go to Africa, and spend some time in Outer Mongolia…… currently housebound with not just normal post-op recovery but now with a post-op internal bacteriological infection, for which I’m on antibiotics. I have naturally started planning for my early death from extreme complications (!) but also I’m thinking about what I want to do and when I’m going to do it!

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