24th July, 2016
We’re on the final leg of the journey now and my mood has dropped. I’m losing things. Leaving behind important items necessary for a smoother flight.
Before we left Auckland we bought the Flight Drink made by 1 Above that eases the symptoms of jet lag. My husband swears by it. And so I bought my own beautiful glossy blue bottle with its quirky shape, for grasping and a packet of 50 tablets for dissolving in water so I could drink my way to London and arrive there feeling reasonable. But I have managed to leave the box behind in the other plane. Fortunately my husband has another one and has given me four tablets to last me to London. He was very good about it. But worse, I have realised that my plastic bag of pain drugs has been mislaid.
I’ve searched every crevice of each of my three bags at least four times, rustling through the layers, emptying everything into my lap looking for the lost bag. In the process I cut my finger on something sharp. Fortunately after a lot more rustling and with blood gathering under my nail on the hurt finger, I was able, using my other hand, to locate my small pack of antibacterial wipes, and from a snaplock bag in my handbag, holding a memory stick and two plasters, I extracted one of them and taped up the blood flow. When I told the flight attendant what had happened she put her hand into the hold and pulled out the empty foil strip from the last of my two Panadol taken moments earlier. She ran her hand along the edge, frowned and in a soft South London accent said, ‘Look it’s sharp.’
Always when I travel I get in a muddle and leave things behind. For this trip I was feeling more confident because I thought I’d solved all my issues. I bought GLAD snaplock bags, little ones and bigger ones to hold; my lipstick and eyeliner; a bottle of eye spray for contact lens wearers that works apparently when you spray it on closed eyes; although my husband doubts the veracity of this claim. I have a bigger bag for my contact lens solutions and another for my toothbrush and toothpaste and moisturizer. And I have three different carry bags to hold everything. My phone and reading glasses are in my little black Minnie Cooper handbag that I sling over my shoulder, into a colourful bag that rolls up to nothing I have stored my cardigan and shawl and clean knickers and bra. That bag is tucked away in Julian’s hand luggage. And before the trip at Ballantynes in Christchurch I bought a new small sweet A 4 size black backpack. It’s a Safepak product with internal wiring that resists slashing and fancy zip fastenings that make it theft proof. I love it because it fits snugly on my back and even with my laptop inside doesn’t feel heavy and this gives me the feeling of striding out lightly, hands free. The lining is its best feature. The fabric is a soft apricot in colour and the material is sleek and slippery and strong. It’s not satin. It’s more hardwearing than that, made of a new smart 21st century robust and aesthetic fabric. There are lots of secret compartments in this bag, holders for pens and zip pockets on the inside and outside, and a sewn in band of apricot to hold the laptop in place. But I’m the faulty product. Even with all these clever organisational systems in place I keep forgetting where things are.
… LA airport, as we rolled down the runway was another abstract painting, in soft focus. The scene down below was washed with pale yellow sunlight the effect through the gauze of a hazy, smoggy sky made the markings on the runway, cream lines and green rectangles on grey, like strokes on an abstract canvas.
We had been in the sky only a short time when I spotted a chiselled series of landforms lit up golden red in a muted landscape. I felt sure this had to be a famous geological wonder so I asked the handsome Maori flight attendant with the new man beard fashion, a narrow closely clipped shape from the earlobe to the jaw, what is that down below? It’s the Grand Canyon, he said. ‘Have you ever been there?’ I asked. He smiled, white teeth brilliant against olive skin and said, ‘No, I fly past it almost everyday but I haven’t been there, yet.’
In transit I talked to a young woman from Wellington who is on her way to Paris for her wedding in a chateau in Champagne. A small party of 32 guests have been invited. And there will be another wedding in Wellington. The North American woman in the seat next to me has an oxygen kit that she uses while flying. I’m not sure why. She is flying to London for one week, including a day in Paris. A day! She tells me that next year she is taking her seven grandchildren and three children to South Africa for a holiday but they’re waiting for the youngest to turn six before they go.
I may not write for a few days. I will need time in London to become acquainted again with my daughter and her husband, and adjust to the upside down time zone.
Deborah thanks Rangimarie Kelly and Pikau Digtal for website design and artist Karen Jarvis for her image ‘Writers at the Devonport Library,’ (2023)