Serendipitous mistakes

(Listen to this Lief Vollebekk song while you read the post by clicking here, it’ll open in a separate tab)

I missed my stop on the bus this evening in downtown Sydney and had to walk a couple blocks back to the main station to catch the next bus home. I had my headphones in because there had been some punk kids listening to rap music in the seat behind me and it was annoying (…get off my lawn!). I played Leif Vollebekk (linked above), a new-found favourite of mine. While I walked with this as my soundtrack, I was kind of overwhelmed.

I gazed up at the tall honeycomb buildings. I glimpsed snatches of soundless conversations across dining tables through ambient-lit restaurant windows. I noticed the refreshing lack of pervasive advertisements throughout the city, and how there is both water, and palm trees, all around. I met eyes with a stranger and smiled, and felt happy that neither of us had been staring at our feet or our phones. It was around 7pm. Dark but still well-lit downtown. The clouds that made it cooler during the day were now keeping the air insulated by night and it didn’t feel as cold as the previous few evenings (I think I’ve finally come to terms with the “winter” weather, which is really more like a late Niagara spring). A white cockatoo flew overhead. I watched some city workers nearly soak a guy walking by as they washed the ground of Martin Place square. I thought about the speeches from the faculty members earlier, at the Law meet and greet, and how I’m actually… in Law School – at the 12th ranked law school in the world, no less. I guess it all just finally hit me. I knew there would be a delay in my brain catching up with what was really happening, but, you just don’t know when it will all sink in. I’m in Australia now? Whew.

I realise this honeymoon stage won’t last forever, but until [next week, when] the workload starts to compress my soul, and analysing cases overtakes composing blog posts in my head, I will keep soaking it in, taking mental snapshots of the wonder around and trying to create a picture of it with words… and trying to remember just how blessed I am.

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In the days before teletransportation…

I am currently sitting in the morning sunshine in Allambie Heights, Sydney. It is absolutely lovely outside, I’ve showered, and I even have a coffee in front of me. Although 36 hours of transit is a very long time, and the customs queue at Sydney International was incredibly long, I feel good. All is well! The following is a blog post I wrote in the air between Vancouver and Shanghai, that I couldn’t post using the free wifi in Shanghai because of all the Chinese firewalls.

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I think I can say that, comparatively speaking, I have travelled a fair amount in my 27 years on the planet. Not nearly as much as some, but more than lots. I’ve spent time in South America, countless trips to the Southern States (Florida, namely), I’ve driven far north, driven far south, driven far east, flown far west, lived in France, travelled to six countries in Europe, lived in Hawaii, spent time in Fiji and Vanuatu, and even popped in to Auckland on a long layover. I’ve run to catch many planes, trains and busses in my life. I’ve been that girl with so much luggage she can hardly stand. I’ve paid my share in extra or overweight bags. That being said, I knew this trip to Australia was going to be a long one, but in all my travels I don’t think I have had as rocky of a departure as I did today (yesterday? Or was it the day before? Who am I?). This one was one for the record books.

You know that moment in Home Alone (the original, of course)… you know it. The quintessential moment. The family is halfway across the Atlantic Ocean en route to France when Kevin’s mom suddenly realises what it is that she couldn’t put her finger on of having forgotten.

“KEVIN!”

It dawns on her like a bout of really explosive diarrhoea realised too late. The blood drains from her face and the following hour and a half of movie is spent watching her desperately figure out a way back home to her unintentionally abandoned child. The needy one you sort of wish you could do without but of course can’t and you don’t really mean that. Do you see where I’m going? Am I being too melodramatic about just a bunch of dumb possessions? I don’t seriously mean to compare my having left two of my bags at home with leaving a child at home, but, you at least now have a feel for how I was feeling when I opened the trunk at Pearson International in Toronto and realised there was only one suitcase (of three) in the back.

Leaving at 4am isn’t good for anyone. Four people leaving (Aaron came with us too) means that it’s easier to assume everything necessary got done without performing the usual checks. It was dark. We were tired and distracted. And we were making good time. Yet somehow, fatefully, I arrived with only half the things I meant to take with me as I moved across the planet, and although it isn’t my usual method of getting my way (anymore), I discovered that bursting out crying in front of the WestJet check-in employee was one sure way to make sure she didn’t question your one (remembered) bag that was slightly over the weight limit.

In fact, I was more upset that I might not get to spend my last hour in the Northern Hemisphere with my parents or even say goodbye to them properly. They took off immediately to attempt to go home to get my stuff. Fifteen minutes later they were back, realising the futility of getting home and back to the airport in under two hours, and me still having any chance of making my flight. We called Uncle Larry to the rescue and he rushed to salvage my departure by picking up my bags and driving them to the airport, but alas, despite unequalled hope and optimism, I had to be rushed through security before he arrived and had to run, once again, to my gate to catch my plane. Fate was not on my side again, because they’d already closed the gate but my tears must have swayed them as they reluctantly reopened it to let me board. If they hadn’t, if I’d been a minute later (if I hadn’t decided to run), I would have missed it, would have had to catch the next flight out an hour later, would have had my bags and would have saved the cost my parents are now looking at to mail me my things.

All in all, an eventful morning?

I hate eventful mornings.

Needless to say, the WestJet employees were stellar and the hug I got from the attendant who met me when I ran on to the plane with eyes still glistening was a special touch. The messages of encouragement and phone calls and texts from loved ones helped me realise what I already knew but couldn’t quite grasp in that moment (and maybe still can’t quite) – it’s just stuff. It can all be replaced and it isn’t the end of the world. And, most importantly, I have the essentials and I’m going to frickin Australia for crying out loud. Will I feel unprepared to begin school on Monday? Probably a little. But I guess the adventure began before I thought it would and caught me off guard.

Now, if only this 12 hour leg to Shanghai had the luxury of seatback TVs, or even plug outlets (or wifi but that’s asking a lot I suppose), I’d be set. I was gunning for an upgrade to business class but there’s no way the universe was going to be that redemptive for me today. I’ll settle for the hours to pass quickly and thank my stars that I’m sitting beside a lovely, quiet Chinese woman (and that the Korean guy on my earlier flight still thought I looked pretty even though I’d spent the entire morning in a stunned deer/headlights state and couldn’t find it in me to be very pleasant). Oh, and that my computer currently says I have 19 hours of use still. Amazing.

One day I will look back on this trip and laugh. Not today. I hope you have a bit though, even if it is at my expense.

Let it go, Robyn. Let it go. Deep breaths. Shake it out. Onward and upward.

Will post this from the other side.