Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Australia One: swish, swoop, settle

After fizzing over the preparations for, oh, long enough to set the Man’s teeth on edge, the flight itself was nothing. Security blinked a bit over our medications, our needles and our food, and once again they tried to confiscate our ice packs. Silly people. I smiled our way through, and there we were on another plane.

There were really only about three interminable hours in the whole trip, when we sat and stared at the clock while the kids wriggled and fussed. Otherwise, the kids smiled at their fellow passengers, thanked the airline attendants politely (including the one who worries over her tree-nut allergic nephew, and explained that nut and peanut allergies are the really life-threatening ones), and made friends with the cute kids in the row in front of us.

And then we were here. How could it be Tuesday already? More to the point, how could it have been so easy? We went straight to my grandmother’s home, where she cried a bit to see us, and then cried again whenever I said how happy we are to be here. The kids watched her warily, before deciding the crying wasn’t catching, and that this lovely old lady might just, possibly, be alright. Tomorrow, I’ll show them her cache of games for the great-grandkidlets, and they’ll promptly fall in love with her, all over again.

Melbourne is a treasure trove of health food stores, rich with gluten-free options. We’re breakfasting on an odd loaf of bread, toasted, spread with honeycomb or a buttery avocado. Our apartment offers marvels like an espresso machine, and its friend the milk-foamer. Two espressos later, I can face the children, now cheerfully awake at 4 am.

A creature of my comforts, travel tends to make me think about the array of pleasures that I have set up at home. When I think about my favorite face wash (pineapple scented) and moisturizer (lavender), my beloved teas, the chair I snuggle into to read my books – the list of my comforts makes me feel very pampered. When I travel, I look for ways to recreate my comforts, to to invent new ones. The Man is patient with me, the children amused. But to quote Elizabeth Gilbert, in Eat, Pray, Love (which I hauled onto the airplane, planning to abandon it to the next passenger – but couldn’t), “the appreciation of pleasure can be an anchor of one’s humanity. … You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement..) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” Gilbert is certain that part of providing yourself with pleasure is respecting yourself and feeling that you deserve pleasure.

Given this, bring on the foamy, fresh espresso. But first, we’re off to Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Note to the reader: while my brain knows that we're here to see my too-fragile grandmother, my heart is in absolute denial. Expect a lot of frothy wordiness on this blog while my brain and heart battle it out. She can't be this fragile. She just can't. But since when did that make a difference?


dykewife said...

i'm so glad you have this time with your g'ma. mine lived in bc, only a few provinces away, but she might as well have lived in australia. she was around 95-98 when she died (no one was ever quite sure what year she was born for some reason). eldest will have memories that you can later keep filled in with photographs.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy grandmother time. btw, the pic of the two boys is priceless... They're growing up to be such handsome young men!