Monday, April 20, 2009

Day which we eat fairy bread

In the morning, we did the last minute packing. Then Tim left to go rent a car. He had come up with an idea. We didn't need to leave for the airport until 3 pm, and the check out time at our apartment was 10 am. Tim decided, since we had a coupon for the car rental company, we could get a car for a good price. We could use the car for both transportation and luggage storage.

We took all our luggage down to the lobby and loaded up the car. We also had a bag of junk to give my friend Michelle. I had asked her if she'd be willing to take the stuff we couldn't (or didn't want to) take home with us. This included the Seven Mile Beach scooter, an instant noodle meal, and some children's books that we had already finished reading. Last year it had been my cousin who was blessed with our rejected stuff. Who will win the prize next time? Any volunteers? Ah! Maybe there will be lots of volunteers. We can have a big auction and everything!

Anyway, we went in the car and Tim drove us to Croyden.

We met Gina at the Cafe On Strand. We all ate breakfast together outside.

Jack sat next to Gina. I could tell he really adored her.

The food was great. Jack had a fruit and yogurt thing. I was mean and said he couldn't have anything huge and sugary like pancakes. We were heading to a birthday party next, and I knew he'd get a full dose of processed sugar there. Plus then we had the plane ride with the make-us-forget-we're-on-a-nine-hour-flight candy. I promised him that once we were in Hawaii, he could get pancakes.

Jack was fine with my restrictions. I think partly because I warned him way ahead of time. And he liked his fruit.

The rest of us had fruit toast. I actually had said Jack could get something like that. Yeah, it has processed sugar. But it's usually a smaller meal. I just didn't want him to get a huge pancake/waffle/French toast thing.

While we ate, Jack showed Gina some of his geography skills. This proved to me that he loves her. Jack doesn't like being asked geography questions. I mean he's usually fine with me and Tim asking. But he has told me privately that he gets annoyed when people bombard him with questions. I think he feels shy about it. But now he answered questions happily. And I think he even told us to ask him more questions.

After breakfast we went to a nearby convenience store. Tim wanted to buy a lottery ticket. I think he bought some from the regular big jackpot lottery. Then he bought a scratch off ticket. We all watched eagerly as he did the scratching. We had won!

Okay. All we won was enough money to buy another lottery ticket. But still. It gave us some hope.

If this had been a movie, we would have scratched the new card and screamed happily about winning thousands of dollars. But that didn't happen. It was all very anti-climatic. We won. Then we lost.

While Tim had been getting the new card, Gina asked me what would I do if we won. Would I stay in Sydney?

I thought about it and then said no. I really truly did want to go home. I was exhausted from being a tourist. I wanted to go back to regular life. And most importantly, I wanted to see my new nephew. Gina has a very special relationship with her nephew so she was very empathetic. I told her if we won, I'd want to go home and then come back again soon.

Such grand plans we have while scratching lottery tickets.

Oh! I forgot about this, but just saw it in my notes. We asked Jack what he'd buy if he won the lottery. His answer? A conveyor the ones your luggage goes on at the airport. I had no idea he loved these that much.

We said our sad good-byes to Gina. Then we headed to Stanmore for Hugo's Birthday party.

It was hard getting there so we were late. I guess TomTom decided he was mad at us for some reason. Maybe he was sad about going back to America. He kept telling us to take right turns on one way streets. And then he wanted us to drive through this really squishy thin alley. Tim cursed and said no way. He and TomTom had it out with each other. But they eventually found peace together, and we got to the birthday party.

We all had a great time. Well, not TomTom. We made him stay in the car. That was his punishment for misbehaving.

Jack, Tim, and I got to eat fairy bread for the first time. This is white bread with butter/margarine and sprinkles. But in Australia they call sprinkles, hundreds and thousands.

There was all kinds of yummy food at the party.

Michelle's parents, aunts, and cousins were at the party. She also had a friend there who had been her fellow expat in America. It was great to meet all of them. They were all very nice and welcoming.

I think Michelle felt all worldly having foreigners at her child's birthday party. I'm thinking I'd like to feel that way during one of Jack's birthday parties. Any volunteers? His birthday is in August. I prefer Australians, of course. But I'd settle for others. Swedish? British? Italian? Thai? Malaysian? I'll even accept a Canadian! My sister always has Israeli's at her daughter's party. So, that probably wouldn't impress anyone enough. It's been done too many times before.

Well, back to Hugo's party. The grown-ups chatted. The children played. We all stuffed our faces.

At one point, Michelle became all concerned about Tim. She said he looked lost; kind of not fitting in. I thought...Tim? No! Impossible. He's such a people-person. But then I looked over at him and he DID look lost. He was walking around looking so....I don't know? Rejected? Left out? Bored. Alienated.....

I felt bad for my little husband. I rarely see him like this. Did no one want to talk to him? I think I went out to see how he was doing. It ended up he had been looking for one of Jack's shoes! The socially-rejected look was really a where-are-those-damn-shoes-we-can't-take-him-on-the-plane-with-just-one-Croc look.

We soon found the shoes, and Tim went back to being his good old social self.

Another thing that happened at the party was Tim saw Jack do some awful belly flop thing on the trampoline. I didn't see it, but I did see Tim asking Jack if he was okay. This was after Jack was up and walking. Tim was still concerned about what he had seen. I guess Jack's legs had gone way up in some weird way. Seeing Tim concerned like that made me concerned. But then Jack acted fine so I forgot about it.

We sang happy birthday and ate cake. All that fun birthday stuff.

Around 3:00, we said our good-byes and headed to the airport. I think TomTom behaved himself at this point. I think he knew we'd get enough grief from the car rental company. When Tim had picked up the car in the morning, the person told him to return the car near the domestic terminal. But once we got there, they told us we should have gone to the International terminal. Domestic was too far away. Fortunately, they were SUPER nice there and offered to drive us.

The other problem was the guy in the morning hadn't done anything about the coupon. We were paying full price for the car. Tim politely spoke out against that. Again, they were SUPER nice and fixed the mistake.

The guy who drove us to the terminal was very friendly. He talked about wanting to come to America one day.

At the airport, we bought even more candy. At the duty-free shop, they had a good deal on the Cadbury Favorites box. I think it was three boxes for twenty dollars. We bought that. Tim wanted some Jaffas. They didn't have them at the duty-free shop. I suggested that we go to the regular airport convenience store. They'd have all the Aussie candy there.

I was right. They did. We bought those. Tim also bought Minties and Fantales. I forgot whether he bought them at the convenience store or the duty-free shop. I guess it doesn't matter.

We eventually got on the plane.

Jack and I sat in a two-seater. Tim sat in the middle of the plane with a whole row almost to himself. There was a woman who was there part of the time and then later went to sit with her daughter.

She was very talkative. Tim seemed very friendly towards her. But I had a feeling he wasn't happy with the situation. I think he wanted to rest and watch his movie. I felt bad for him.

I think talking to strangers on an airplane can be a great thing. It's possible you can meet a new friend. It can diminish loneliness. BUT I think there are limits to it. I think you have to know how to take a hint, and I think you have to know when to take a break from the conversation.

Tim gave this woman a lot of his time. I think they talked for at least thirty minutes. Then he started getting his video player ready. The woman didn't take the hint. I saw my poor husband watching his movie and then having to keep pausing it so he could be polite and listen to the woman.

I talked to the woman a bit too.

She told us she was psychic. She said she could see dead people.

I'm a believer, but I'm a skeptical believer.

She might have been telling the truth. There's no way I can know for sure. But something about it.....

I don't know. It might have been that she told us she was heading to Las Vegas. Las Vegas + psychic brings up a certain image for me. I think I might have had a different opinion if she had been heading towards somewhere like upstate New York, Arizona, or Wisconsin.

I'm not saying there can't be real psychics in Las Vegas. I'm sure some of them live there. But if you're traveling all the way from Australia, and the place you're most excited about going is Las Vegas, I'm going to form a certain opinion.

I did try to give her the benefit of the doubt at first. I WANTED to believe. I asked her some questions I had about mediums. I asked how she could distinguish dead people from living people. She avoided my question. But she did tell a dramatic tale of seeing a dead man. She told me he looked as clear and there as a living man. So yeah. If that's so, how did she know I wasn't a ghost? Maybe Tim was a ghost. For any of you who watch Medium....some of my questions had been aroused by a certain recent episode.

The other thing....

I feel a real medium wouldn't boast to strangers that he/she could see dead people. I just don't think it's something you brag about. Maybe I'm wrong. I just feel if you're going to boast about something when first meeting someone, then you have to back it up with proof. It's not that I expect a free reading or something....although that would have been pretty awesome. But she could have given us a tiny sample. She could have given us something to make us think. Wow! This one might be for real!

She became melodramatic at one point. She looked me in the eye and told me I didn't need to worry. Those who I've loved and lost are with me--they're ALWAYS with me. I think she wanted me to get all teary and say Grandpa! Grandma! I'm so relieved to know that. I love you. What I wanted to say was something sarcastic like if my grandpa is following me all the time, where does that leave my two sisters? Why is he neglecting them? And can't the guy EVER give me some privacy. I mean I LOVE my Grandpa. And I do believe his spirit is with me SOMETIMES. But that guy better not be with me ALL the time.

But who knows....

Maybe she Susan Boyled me. Maybe she's some fabulous medium and I failed to realize that. Maybe one day she'll have her own TV series on Lifetime and I'll feel foolish for doubting her.


Besides being a little too talkative, she was actually very nice.  Friendly. She was very sweet. If Tim and I were more social on planes, we'd probably appreciate her more. But we're not. We'll talk a little bit, but mostly we like to read, watch movies, and sleep (or try to at least!).

The woman eventually left to sit with her sister, and Tim watched his movie. Jack watched a cartoon about sheep. I watched Twilight! I was excited to see it. I've wanted to read the books, but haven't gotten around to it. I had actually said to Tim weeks earlier that to make the plane ride not-so-horrible for myself, I might splurge and buy all the books. I figured sexy vampires would keep me happily busy. I never got around to buying the books. But now I had the movie.

I started watching it.

I took one look at Edward Cullen and quickly understood what all the fuss was about. I learned later that the actor who plays him is the same guy from Harry Potter. He's Cedric Diggory! I never realized that while watching the movie.

The movie kept my attention.

Jack kept himself busy for several minutes by repeatedly blowing up his airplane pillow. I didn't pay much attention to it. I had a vague worry that blowing things up repeatedly might make him sick. But mostly I was happy to have him occupied so I could stare at Edward Cullen.

Then when the movie was about halfway over, Jack told me he felt sick.

Oh shit!

My fear of airplane vomit was going to happen.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I tried to stay calm.

I had actually already looked in our seat pockets for vomit bags. I usually don't do this. But Jack had eaten so much junk at the birthday party. I felt I needed to be prepared for the worse. When I looked then, I hadn't found any bags. So now, I poked Tim and said I needed him to give me his bag.

Jack immediately said that he wasn't going to throw up. I wanted to believe him, but I feared he was just trying to be optimistic.

I took the bags anyway. I said we'd keep them just in case.

Jack talked about wanting dinner. I figured maybe this meant he wasn't feeling nauseated.

I asked him what was wrong. He told me his stomach hurt when he breathed.

Then I remembered what had happened at the birthday party. Suddenly, airplane vomit seemed the least of my problems. I looked at Jack and he looked awful to me. I can't describe it. I'll just say he looked very scary. He looked lethargic and just....well....sick.

I thought maybe he had some type of internal injuries.

I was terrified.

And then Tim asked for the camera and took Jack's photo. I don't know why he did that. But it scared me even more. It's like he was building up evidence of some sort. I pictured us in an emergency room; doctors prepping Jack for life saving surgery and asking us millions of frantic questions. I pictured Tim taking out the photo and saying This is when he first told us something was wrong.

I don't know if Tim was as scared as I was. Or if he was just thinking why is my wife freaking out so much.

I didn't know what we'd do if something was truly wrong. What happens in airplane emergencies like that?

All we did then was wait. Wait, pray, and hope.

I turned off my movie. I had absolutely no interest in it anymore.

I asked Jack if he wanted me to read him a book. He said yes. I started reading him Flat Stanley. He listened calmly. I was too nervous to pay attention to anything that I was reading. I kept glancing at Jack hoping he'd start looking better and praying that he wouldn't start looking worse.

I'm sure most of you know how the story turns out. Jack's alive and well.

Nothing serious was wrong with him. I think he just gave himself a stomachache from all the air blowing. And he might also have been sore from the belly flop. Once he ate, he was in better spirits. I realized later that he DOES get that horribly lethargic look sometime. It happens every time we go to bed too late. My boisterous son becomes my very quiet and exhausted son.

All the little things added up though, and my imagination had run off in very scary directions.

When we ate our dinner, I started crying. At that time, I thought it was for sentimental reasons. What sparked the tears was seeing the little Cadbury Bar that came with the meal. It made me think of all the trivial things about Australia I'd miss. Now I'm thinking though that the crying might have been a release from the previous drama. I look back and can see some humor in the situation, but at the time it truly was scary for me. Once I knew he was okay, I relaxed and the tears flowed.

After dinner, Jack and Tim fell asleep. I tried to as well, but didn't have much luck. I decided I might as well finish watching Twilight. I did that. Then Tim pointed out that the video player music section had the soundtrack to Mamma Mia. I listened to it and had my second airplane cry. This time it was for the song When All is Said And Done. The song brought up so many emotions for me. It reminded me of my relationship with Tim. It reminded me of my beautiful friendship with Tracey, and how at one time we almost lost each other. It reminded me of all the people in my life who have forgiven me and all who I have forgiven.

The song makes me feel there's always hope. Love may be replaced with anger and resentment. But eventually love might return.

Sometimes we lose our friends.
But sometimes we find them again.

And that ends our trip to Australia.

I've cried many times since returning. I can't begin to count how many tears have been shed while writing these posts.

I think I've cried more after returning from this trip than I did from the last trip. But there's a big difference. Last year, my tears were ones of depression. They came from a black cloud hanging over my head. They were tears of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness.

These new tears are different. They're lovely ones. Sometimes, they have tiny drops of melancholy. But mostly, they're happy sentimental tears. It's like the tears we shed when we see a beautiful sunset....

when we see a bride walking down the aisle.....


when we find out our sister is going to have a baby.

They're THOSE kinds of tears.


  1. The last several paragraphs of this post were so beautifully written.

  2. I was so sad to say goodbye to you all that day - so unfair to make such fabulous new friends and then have them rack off to the other side of the world.... I had no idea the geography quiz was so significant. I am also very fond of Jack, he's an amazing kid!

    I have two fairy bread confessions to make.... even at my (advanced) age, I have never ever thrown a party without a huge plate of fairy bread. And...some nights for dinner, when I can't be bothered to do anything else, I have fairy bread and a glass of red wine. Food of the gods :)

    Yes, your last Australian trip post was beautifully written indeed - tears in my eyes towards the end too.

    G xx

  3. Gina,

    Here's my confession. And I hope you still like me. I don't really like the taste of fairy bread. It's just I'm not a big fan of white bread--especially when it's not toasted.

    I DO like it in theory though. And I love how it looks.

    I'm thinking we'll serve it at Jack's birthday party. Maybe. He LOVES white bread.

    Can you have whole grain fairy bread, or would that be blasphemous?

    I was very sad about saying good-bye to you. I miss you so you'll have to come and visit us. I'll feed you lots of fairy bread.

    And I promise not to force you to eat Vegemite in order to prove to everyone that you truly are Australian.

  4. I still like you.

    It's funny - the only time I eat white bread is in a fairy bread context.... It is possible to make it with multigrain, but it's really not quite the same. If you're going to eat (effectively) sugar on bread, you might as well go with the unhealthiest possible bread option!!

  5. Gina,

    I agree about the unhealthy stuff. I just don't really like white bread. Too spongy maybe?

    I'd eat fairy bread though. It's not like I find it disgusting and inedible. It's just not something I love or enjoy. I'd eat it for the cultural experience--kind of like Vegemite.

  6. I took the picture of Jack because I freaked out thinking his face was flush and off color...but I wasn't sure if it was due to the light or I was freaking out too..when I took the picture his face looked normal and then we figured it was because he had played around with the plastic pillow....which emits noxious plastic fumes.

    Humm...not a big fan of fairy bread but fairy bread AND red wine?! Priceless...

  7. Trust me, Tim, it's a combination well worth trying!!

  8. Tim,

    Why didn't you TELL me he looked normal. You just let me go on being scared. Or did you not know I was scared? I think I was trying to act calm.

  9. The last time i flew home from australia, for what i thought was "permanently", I cried the entire flight...If i wasn't sleeping. I was crying. and not just tears but GIANT SOBS. *sigh* the people next to me loved me.

    a) I have never eaten fairy bread (with the whole gluten allergy)...but the concept is adorable.
    b) as is the fairy floss...which is such a better name (those australian's clever cats) for cotton candy.

  10. Deirdre,

    There's something beautiful than about knowing you came back. It's kind of like a sad story with a happy ending.

    I wonder how many people cry on those long haul flights. Someone should do a study.

    I agree about fairy floss!