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Archive for September, 2009

weathering the storm

Not a metaphoric storm, but a literal one

Which I experienced in three different cities.

Monday in Adelaide, the storm meant rain like I’ve never seen before in this part of the country. Goldenboy normally walks home from school, but I picked him up in the car – even though he’s not water soluble. It was the heaviest rain he would have seen in his nine and a half years of life. By the time I’d walked from the car to his classroom, grabbed him and come back to the car, with an umbrella, my socks inside my shoes (as was the fashion at the time) were squishy. I came home and wrung (wrang?) them out. They were saturated, dripping with water, as if I’d soaked them in a bucket.

As I walked in this rain towards the classroom feeling soggy and miserably inconvenienced, and guilty about this because rain should be a cause of celebration in drought stricken Adelaide, children were running in the rain, squeeling with the joy of the experience.

A good reason indeed to have children in your life, to remind you about joy.

Anywho, two days later – yesterday – I flew to Sydney where the mighty storm had blown across the country collecting dust.

This meant Sydney airport didn’t open for business until around 10am and even then it had only one runway operating.

My plane was scheduled to depart Adelaide at 7am but instead left around 9.30. Snaps to Qantas, who gave all delayed passengers $10 vouchers at the airport cafes. Travelling on public transport, and a plane is no different to any other form of transport in this regard, is a great lesson in going with the flow. You can’t control very much, so life becomes rather lovely if you let go of the illusion that you can. I sat at the airport for this bonus time, thinking about how if I was on holiday I would cherish the luxury of having NOTHING TO DO EXCEPT LAZE AROUND FOR HOURS. I got a pot of tea from a cafe, care of Qantas and cultivated a holiday mentality. Well tried to.

On the plane, I was surrounded by a circus troupe of bright, young, exuberant people. Late teens, early twenties travelling to a circus convention of some sort. (I’m getting middle aged enough not to be sure at younger people’s ages.) When we circled above Sydney airport for 40 mins in the increasing turbulence, their joy kept me from throwing up and/or weeping. I guess being tumbled and tossed about midair is perfectly normal for them. The young man sitting next to me was an absolutely delightful human. (Not that we talked, I just eavesdropped to keep my mind from the horrible imaginings severe turbulence evokes.) He joked and laughed, and attended to the comfort of the young lady he was with, in an unobtrusive but sweet way. The girl this boy marries will have a good life. (His behavior reminded me of the day I decided Husband was THE ONE – but that’s another story…)

Sydney airport was even fuller of people than normal. In long queues and huddles. But the interestingness of the event – what we called in PR ‘newsworthiness’ – gave us drama and focus. And also, hmmm, some shared experience. So I listened to strangers unite in the storm and share stories about their delays, turbulent flights, destinations, life stories. More eavesdropping. I guess I’m a people listener.

Some voice over the PA said they’d never seen anything like it before in Sydney. Through the windows it looked like a very foggy day. Not red, grey. Of course inside the terminal the climate was normal. Controlled air-conditioning or heating or whatever happens at Sydney’s airport in September. Inside, the experience of the storm was about the people.

I passed the time by trying to interface with my new fangled phone, and send an email to my Brisbane lecturer. I’m a technospaz, this took a while and a degree of concentration. We were supposed to meet for rehearsal at 1.30, with our normal class at 4pm. No way I was going to be in Brisbane by 1.30. The lecturer left a message, saying given everything – I didn’t need to come. But by then I was in Sydney airport, and my plan home was from Brisbane to Adelaide. I had to keep going.

My plane from Sydney to Brisbane left around 2.30pm, over 4 hours late. And I touched down in Brisbane at 4pm – just as class was starting on the other side of Brisbane.. (Most Wednesdays I spend between an hour and an hour and a half, catching a train and then bus to Uni.) I rang my classmate to say I would catch a TAXI, and be at class as soon as I could. My lovely lecturer didn’t care for this proposal and told me not to do anything. He needed a minute to think and would call me back.

It’s school holidays in Brisbane, not Uni holidays, but most of the people in the class are school teachers, and so half the class was away. In a class of six, that means there were only two people at class. My lecturer decided on a plan. He sent these two to the airport to meet me, with instructions that we were to practice at the airport. (Snaps to my dear classmates who undertook this mission with good humour and grace.) Hmm. Does Brisbane airport have rehearsal rooms?

My two class buddies picked me up 50 minutes later and we went to a nearby shopping centre. One of those big, outlet places, that in Brisbane just like Adelaide is next to the airport. We found a cafe/tavern and sat outside. In a duststorm most people stay indoors, so we could practice without aurally inconveniencing fellow patrons. And there we sat and sang and talked and laughed for 2 hours. In the storm. Sightreading Lassus.

The flight home was more standard. My weekly classes blow my mind and are worth every minute, dollar and metric-yet-to-be-named of life energy I invest, and this week the storm made it even more of an adventure, but sentimental and cliched though it is, my heart always leaps when I arrive home and see Husband waiting for me. I don’t think home is necessarily Adelaide, home is where he is.

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