I awoke without a single butterfly in my stomache. Not even a flutter. My stomache, quite obviously, hadnt recieved the message from my brain that I was leaving the country.
I mean my brain has better messages to be sending. Keeping me running must be quite hectic. But I digress…
I checked and double checked to see that everything was packed and after a lovely cup of tea with Mum we took some photos to mark the occasion and then set off.. Four kilometeres later we stopped at the community centre so mum could tell everyone that I was leaving. And they all took photos and there was hugging and goodbyes flying left right and centre and everyone was telling me that I was going to come back from Italy twice the size I left and I was saying I dont care… I mean Italian chubb is the best kind of chubb, right?
We listened to Paul Simons on the way to the airport, singing along to ‘Diamonds on the soles of her shoes.’
Mum was stressing out. Repeating advice that she had been giving me for the last two weeks. I told her that I was the one who should be stressing. I could go overseas and Australia could be bombed and then where would I be? I dont think that helped the situation, to be honest.
At the airport the check-in lady was super nice and helped me re arrange my luggage so I could take another bag on carry on and save myself $440. What a doll.
The airport is quiet on a sunday. No yelling or enthusiastic hugs or screaming children. Just the sound of trolley wheels on tires and gentle enquiries.
My boyfriend daniel and my good friend Adam came to see me off.. which was amazing of them. Daniel gave me the latest George RR Marting to read on the plane. I thought previously that I would cry at the airport but I was still calm. I think my brain was in denial.
I mean I’m leaving my boyfriend, saying goodbye to my friends and departing the country for a year and still my stomach is calm, my brain is keeping itself busy, studiously ignoring the oncoming situation. Chef training is good for many things.
At the baggage check out I got taken into a side room where the guard apolagized profusely and said it was just procedure. A lady guard patted me down and they asked me where I was going. I said Italy and the guy asked me if I spoke Italian. When i said not yet he replied with ‘Too bad.. or you could stay with my family and they could cook for you in Tuscany.’
I flippantly replied that they could cook for me anyway… He laughed.
Then the guy who checked my passport said, ‘I was hoping I would get you. I wanted to tell you that you have a fantastic style.’ He enquired to what I did for a living and told me he thought I was a fashion designer. There you go. He told me to stay true to my ‘unique style’ and that the Italians would love me for it.
Its my red Dr Marten heels, I tell you, they entrance people.
My plane was late. By an hour. George, however, kept me entertained. For those of you into political fantasy you should most definately read George RR Martin. As long as you dont mind a bit of pillaging and general torture and whatnot. All that jazz.
I got a window seat! My luck is awesome! Australia is huge! No seriously, we flew over it for about 6 hours. And as you take off and everything shrinks to toys, and then ants it was surprising to see how square everything is. The farms stretch like a patchwork quilt as far as the eye can see. And then we flew over mountains that were so far below us (3000 metres, i think) that it looked like a crumpled velvet rug. Half an hour into the flight I was talking to my seat mate, an australian guy who was flying to Thailand. He told me of all the fantastic and crazy things he has eaten there. Most bugs, he says, are rubbish, but aphids are dang tasty. He was a laboror builder type who is almost at retiring age but nothing like you would expect from that description.. No meat and three vege for this fellow. He talked about Thai food till my mouth was watering. He visits 3 times and year and plans to retire there. His hobbies are golf and music and he refers to them as his two vices because of how much money he spends on them. He confided that he likes ramstein and I said that music was not age definitive and we talked about blues and jazz.
My feet got scary numb and I started thinking about deep vien thrombosis and walked around the plain lots. At about 6pm we emerged from a large cloud to the most entrancing fairyland. The most beautiful clouds I have ever seen. On my left jutted large cliffs of clouds, that seemed to be carved from marble and then gently puffed. At the base of this cloud cliffs was a pool of golden light. Little white puffy clouds floated just above the pool of light, their tops burnished by the shiny gold of the sun. They looked like glazed meringues. Below the glazed meringue clouds were heavy puffs of cloud that had sunk into the pool of honey colored light, suspended in a way that made the light look viscous almost, thick and so rich in golds and browns that I wanted to reach out of the plain and eat the clouds with a silver spoon. I bet it would have tasted delicious.
I slept and talked with my seat neighbour till we reached Bangkok.
Bangkok was nothing exciting. Easy in, easy out or something like that. Ahem.
On the second part of the flight it was night time and once again i was on the window side and got to discover the bad side of a window seat. As my feet started to go cold and numb i couldnt ask the couple who were occupying the other two sides to let me out as there were asleep. As was the rest of the plane. So i covered my legs with my large jacket and one at a time i put them up on the window seat. I dont think the attendants noticed that the charming australian girl was being all classy and putting her legs in the air while wearing a skirt. Long flight are not my cup of tea…
I arrived in Rome as dawn was breaking. I collected my luggage, all 36 kg of it and went to declare the knives in my suitcase. Before I could even say anything The Italian security guard waved me through checkout, winked at me and said. ‘No problemo. Ciao bella.’
Welcome to Italy.