There are several things that I remember about a sojourn back to Australia a few years ago. After settling back into Melbourne for three weeks and becoming a Melburnian again I headed off north to the Reef and the Rain Forest, and then flew from Darwin back home to the US. I may tell people about the four o’clock in the morning dash, in the hotel mini van, to the Darwin hospital and the two day stay there. What I tell everybody about though is the airport shuttle van ride to the beach side coastal hotel and the ride back from the hotel to the airport. From the airport to the hotel the shuttle van was bursting with excited, overjoyed, lively people who were thrilled to be starting their holidays. From the hotel to the airport the shuttle was crammed with excited, overjoyed, upbeat people who had finished their holiday and were thrilled to be coming home. Holidays are strange like that. From that time on I wanted to drive an airport shuttle bus when I retired.
I knew that I was sinking further and further down into the hard moulded resin seat at gate A4 in the Phoenix Airport because when I stared straight ahead into the dark floor to ceiling windows all I could see was the reflection of heads in the waiting area resin seats. There weren’t many waiting for the flight; I think it was after eight o’clock on a Tuesday night and that meant landing in Omaha around midnight. The little ones had given up playing on the floor, and throwing their small stuffed animals as far as they could and running after them; the information screen over the airline desk showed the flight was on time and was scheduled to arrive in Omaha around 11:30pm. I think the reason I was sinking further and further down into the hard moulded resin seat was because I was coming home from a holiday and had been travelling for the last twenty five plus hours.
I wasn’t really sinking; my shoulders and head were bobbing and floating more so than all of me sinking. Before arriving back home in Omaha I would have crossed the international date line and three time zones. I arrived back in the US the same morning, and an hour before, I left my destination. I really don’t like leaving Melbourne. I’m not excited, overjoyed or upbeat about heading back home from a Down Under holiday; the last thing I do is order a flat white or latte and think about what I will miss. The coffee, unless it’s ordered as a take-a-way is always served in a ceramic or glass coffee cup. But there is a happiness to coming home. The announcement from gate A4 stopped my lusting for a flat white, and stopped my head bobbing
The aircraft at gate A4 has been withdrawn from service.
And I sleepily thought; the aircraft from the hanger will have to be cleaned, fuelled, filled with pretzels and coca cola, seat belts tidily crossed on top of seat cushions, vomit bags neatly arranged in the seat back pockets, and safety checks completed; I wondered what “we hope to have you in the air as soon as possible” meant. Even though I was fuddled by lack of sleep I clearly thought this could take hours. A small smile crossed my tired lips when I thought that because of these extra hours, I could challenge any coming home from a holiday travelling braggart when they posted their extreme number of hours in transit; and I could also regale my friends with harrowing stories of what happens to your brain, physical dexterity, and coordination when you’re deprived of sleep. And I became excited, overjoyed, upbeat, and thrilled to be coming home to Omaha from a holiday. The aircraft was delivered from the hanger to gate A8; apart from safety checks and fuelling it was ready to depart. We arrived in Omaha 15 minutes later than scheduled.
I personally recommend doing the following as soon as you set foot in the house when you return from a holiday to preserve the thrill of the homecoming, and to purge any withdrawal symptoms
1. Grab a stubbie holder and crack open a few cold ones, cans of ginger ale, or Bloody Mary mix.
If you have returned from a holiday in Australia practice the use of the word bastard. Remember that how bastard is being used, defines if it is a friendly reference to a mate or a vulgar version of bloke. A great example of the use of bastard is from the Body Line cricket tour, when the English Captain Douglas Jardine told the Australian captain Bill Woodfull that one of his team members had called him a bastard. Woodfull turned to the dressing room and roared out, at the top of his voice, Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard.
4. Eat small packets of pretzels, honey nuts, or trail mix.
If you have returned from a holiday in Australia your new hobby should be stealing stuff from work. Office supplies are a good start. Make sure that you are caught stealing as soon as you start this new new hobby because stealing from work is a rite of passage with the mates. And the expected response to the boss to avoid being disciplined is shrugging your shoulders and saying; Well it wasn’t nailed down was it.
The next morning tried hard to dampen my excitement, joy, and thrill of coming home from a holiday. I read the email from the neighbour who had been starting, at irregular times, the cars parked in the garage and the drive way. The last time she tried to start the driveway car the battery was flat. She called AAA to jump start the car, and then parked it in it’s usual place on the street. Even though I have been a member of AAA, or triple A as it is known, and have always had excellent service and support from the organisation, I’ve always thought the name to be somewhat less than grand; even a little common. I belonged to the RACV in Melbourne. As a member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria I felt a sense of eminence and entitlement. The RACV provided the same services and products as AAA but I always thought that when the RACV bloke jump started my mini cooper it was by Appointment to Her Royal Majesty.
I tried not to let the thrill of coming home from a holiday be diminished by the dread of grappling with the car not starting, calling AAA, and then buying a new battery. It is said that a car battery can be fully charged by driving around for an hour without using the lights, radio, or any other electrical devices in the car; but the longer the battery has been dead, the longer it will take to fully recharge it. Because we had no idea of the charge remaining in the battery a long drive had to be the best option. We drove the car nine hundred miles to Houston, Texas, and 900 miles back to Omaha; thinking that two eight to nine hour driving days each way should take care of recharging the battery. I imagined the driving seat to be seat 25D on a Boeing 777-300; there wouldn’t be a drink trolley, choice of seat back entertainment, or stumbling over legs to get out of a cramped seat to walk without shoes, or any one to serve small packets of pretzels, honey nuts, trail mix, ginger ale, or Bloody Mary mix, we wouldn’t be travelling at 520mph, and we would have to stop for meals. It’s a good idea to take a three or four day road trip when you come home from a holiday, and before you feel that euphoric thrill of coming home starting to wane; repeated road trips up until the next holiday will ensure that the thrill of coming home will persist until you come home after the next holiday.
The next morning persisted in trying to dampen my excitement, joy, and thrill of coming home after a holiday. As soon as the shower was turned on a waterfall of water cascaded from the shower head; every spray nozzle was blocked. I thought long and hard and mentally sifted through the recesses of way back. When I was growing up our kitchen wireless was always tuned to 3AW. Mum would sit at the kitchen table when the Martha Gardener show started and slowly dawdle through her lunch, and would finish up with her cup of tea, or instant coffee, just as Martha was winding up her show. Mum swore by Martha’s housekeeping tips and hints; use my Wool Mix for washing more than just woollens, and use vinegar to remove calcium build up residue from water. And so the shower head was soon resting in a small reservoir of vinegar. It didn’t take long for a pleasant vinegar smell to waft through the house; and if I closed my eyes I was at the counter of a fish and chip shop about to sprinkle my order of chips, flake, dim sims, potatoes cakes, and calamari with a few good squirts of vinegar. I was bursting with anticipation and excitement as I imagined the deliciousness of the basic order of fish and chips with a few dimmies. I spent the rest of the day bolstering the waning thrill of returning home from a holiday by smelling fish and chips and drinking countless glasses of lemon, lime, and bitters. It’s probably a good idea to soak or smear a household item with something that has an odour of the place that you have just returned from; and let the aroma remain in the house for several weeks. The thrill of returning home should persist as long as your refresh the distinctive smell.
The thrill of coming home was continually challenged; the drainage outlet on the freezer had frozen and everything in the fridge and freezer had to be thrown away, including bottles of Mrs Ball’s chutney, HP sauce, and mint sauce, and I had to schedule a visit to the dentist to check on what I thought was a chipped tooth, and the car insurance had been cancelled, and the land line phone service was still not fixed after a month. I faced each challenge with an unflinching thrill of coming home.
I should have taken photos of each home coming challenge and uploaded them to Shuttefly to create a photo book to preserve all my favourite thrilled to be coming home digital memories as a beautiful coffee table book. I think that my friends would be gobsmacked looking through such a photo album.