Posted: July 5, 2013 in Short stories, starts & writing, Travel writing

Early rise and take care of the formalities of toilet. Shower. Shave.
Lug bags and suitcases upstairs; think about coffee and why I didn’t do the heavy lifting the night before.
Think how cold it still is outside, whether it’s worth my while dressing for the end of today’s journey or just taking it minute by minute and put on warm clothes for now.
The kids are up, excited and pleasantly well behaved, scoffing muffins and chattering away non-stop, requiring little or no prompting to ready themselves for the drive to the airport.
Scull a tepid coffee and take bites of a cold toasted muffin between last minute odd jobs, wonder if everything is going to fit.
After a fortnight or more of manic, disorderly, sometimes chaotic preparations for leaving home and work, we simply walked out the door, locked up, got on a plane and headed interstate.
The rude shock of having nothing more pressing to do than to sit down for an hour hit behind the eyes and sat on the shoulders like the onset of flu.

The luggage and kids fit, albeit in two vehicles.
Feeling strangely relaxed, wired from too little sleep, too many thoughts and emotions scrambling around and nothing gaining traction, not even the usual paranoia that we’ll miss our flight.
It’s a shambles on the freeway, take a back road, wonder if the short cut will backfire. I can see the terminal!
Suicidal hire-car drivers and uncompromising taxis push their way into the queue, and it’s all airline catering trucks and a long, long line of cars.

Dropped off in some mouldering car-park backwater with too many bags, I’m happy that I’ve at least found an abandoned-and-therefore free baggage trolley. Take that you blood sucking airport conglomerate bastards.
Bags take a spill going over a gutter on the way to Departures and no one is answering their phone so I don’t know where the rest of my family are but I’m still strangely calm. Weird.

The phone rings. “We’ll meet you at the check-in counter”.
Bags slip, I catch them before they fall, steady the ship, go up an escalator with large signs saying “No loaded baggage trolleys please”.
Apart from my wife, kids and in-laws, the check-in counter is deserted and the airline staff are making noises about running late. Look at time. We’re certainly pushing it.
We’ve left an important document folder in one of the cars and we’re $500 overweight.
Leave a suitcase of books with the in-laws, mother-in-law runs for the folder. She runs marathons; she’ll be back in no time.

Five departure cards to complete, repetitive, don’t make a mistake! Use the suitcase to lean on, juggle passports and boarding passes, families saying goodbye around us, the kids still chattering.
No time passes and the marathon runner is back, puffed but with our folder and the airline staff are trying to usher us onwards. We’re late.
The kids are blocking the way into the immigration and security screening area as we bid our hasty farewell to in-laws. No time for teary goodbyes.

There’s a long, snaking cattle-yard queue leading to the security screening area, men and women in uniform with those implements for taking samples from bags, clothes, searching for contraband. Someone in the queue trying to take photos. “I’m sorry, that’s not allowed. Please delete.”
After pedantic packing, ensuring all liquids were less than the permitted volume and sealed neatly in zip-lock bags, the security staff barely looked at them.

Rolling carry-on through endless duty-free, too many fluorescent lights, offers of whiskey, samples of liqueurs, even though it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning.
Then we’re echoing down the air-bridge, there out the window is the captain in the cockpit and then the handsome and beautiful cabin crew greeting us and directing us to our seats.

We’ve made it! We’re on our way! Circle high and wide!

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