Thursday (the day before)
My suitcase is empty. What do I need to pack? I need this, this and this. I pack and then ask Mrs C, “What do I need to take with me?” Then I pack again. Then I say, “What don’t I need to take with me?” Then I unpack my suitcase and pack again.
I need to take what I forgot last time. What was that? I can’t remember what I forgot last time. I know it was something.
Wake; press the microwave; watch it turn; remove heated porridge; wait 45 mins for lift to airport; watch TV. The host is wearing a Bulldog’s scarf. He holds up a newspaper with the headline “Every Dog has its Day.”
In the lounge at the airport I am worried. What about? About the food here and on the plane. There will be no escape. Junk will be all around me. On the plane the menu glares at me from the pocket in front of me.
Behind me are two miniature adults. Wearing head phones and belts. They are transfixed by their screens. Staring motionless at their screens. They don’t hear the inflight announcements. I can envisage comments about how well behaved they are.
A stewardess pushes a trolley into our area. She bends and tells me about drinks. A background hum becomes louder when she talks and stops me from understanding her. Where did that noise come from? It’s now everywhere. As she slowly pushes her trolley down the aisle I think about the last film we saw. About an airplane crash and called Sully. In the film the stewardesses saved people’s lives. They controlled them and helped excavate them from a floating plane. They looked after the sick. Their moment had arrived. They were needed and they responded. Not here. Here their main concern is how to arrange their hair and how much to charge for a coffee and muffin. I wonder if they have seen the film and if they admit they are jealous of the stewardesses who had the ultimate plane trip.
We fly on and the plane shudders. Turbulence. I look out the window. Is the turbulence going or coming? We fly through it and onwards. The turbulence disappears. The children are oblivious. They have all flown before. Nothing is exciting to them. Nothing is new. I remember the corn thins in my bag. Relief. Now I can enjoy the flight. Food is no longer an issue. I don’t have any concerns. If I close my eyes I will try to wake in Sydney. I will try and make time disappear. How do I do that?
Time is dragging very slowly. The terminal is far away. The only way is not to think about Sydney airport. Not to think about landing. To enjoy the moment. To live in the present. I spend my time looking at the backs of heads, listening to the noises, smelling the plane. And we suddenly arrive in Sydney.
At the train station people are striding towards their future. Pass the cabinets selling water, soft drinks, chips and chocolates. We protect our suitcases while waiting for the right platform and the right train.
We are on the train to Katoomba. The train smoothly glides up the hills. Hillier and greener. At Katoomba we cross the gap and walk towards our hire car. Pulling our suitcase and thanking the man who put wheels on the suitcases. We pull our suitcases up and down the hilly streets. Along smooth footpaths, bumpy footpaths and grassy pavements. No straight flat roads that give you a distant view.
The hire car is a minivan. I sit back and somebody else drives and navigates. Up and down and around the hills; always thinking there must have been a better way. A more direct way. But there often isn’t a direct way. The shortest way is often indirect and scenic. With views of cliffs and mountains and valleys.
We arrive at Fairmont Resort. They are doing wine tasting in the lobby. A man is pleased as he says, “You can buy them.”
I see a couple of kids who think they have died and gone to heaven. There are multiple games rooms for children. Electronic or not. And outside are pony rides, a merry go round and other children activities. There is a very hot pool, chockers with children and their parents. I have never seen a place where so much space and money was spent on organized structured activities for children. And outside if we wander away from this resort we will come across some spectacular bush walking trails. At times in the bush you can find peace quiet solitude and enjoy the natural wonders. In the resort you can put money in a slot and win a game.
Dinner is a large dining room accompanied by the ominous instructions, “All you can eat.” I approach with trepidation and are surprised. Food is tasty, healthy and everybody is happy.