Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

When I left Melbourne, what seems like a lifetime ago, I don't remember the flight to Los Angeles being that long, but maybe that's because the couple I was sitting next to (who were doppelgangers of Laurie and Noelene Danaher from Sylvania Waters) kept ordering me brandy and cokes!

I must say at the start of the journey Noelene and Laurie were lifesavers as the airline staff seemed far too busy doing whatever it is they do in that little room with the blue separator curtain, to come and see if any of us in cattle class wanted anything! Thankfully Noelene and Laurie's diligence saved me the embarrassment of having to ring the call bell and face the wrath of a flight attendant who had been interrupted from her very important work in the little room with the curtain, by some worthless passenger. The problem occurred when I fell asleep. I don't know if N & L hadn't noticed my snoring or the fact that I was most probably grinding my teeth, but when I woke I found I had four brandy and cokes lined up on my tray table and given that I was in the window seat, this made a trip to the loo impossible until I had dispensed with the line-up of little plastic cups! In the end, I had to thank N & L most graciously for their hospitality, but requested that they cease and desist, so that I could ensure I wouldn't roll off the plane when we arrived at LAX.

No such problem on the way home! Again I was in the window seat, but sitting next to me was my beloved, who is just as apprehensive as I am about ringing the call bell unless there is an emergency, and a complete lack of any liquid refreshments doesn't qualify as such in our lexicon! So it was that by the time we had received our second tray of brown mushy goo, with hard bread roll and a salad that consisted of four lettuce leaves and half a cherry tomato, I thought, "That's it!" and rang the bell. After some time, the flight attendant stuck her head around the curtain, looked down towards me and disappeared again. After a few minutes, she was leaning over Phil, glaring at me "Yes?” I could feel the "now look what you've done, we'll be punished for this" vibes coming from Phil, who I expected to chime in at any minute and say "It wasn't me Miss, SHE rang the bell!!!" I took a big deep breath and asked her for a drink, she "tutted" and walked off, without thinking to ask Phil if he wanted one and I certainly wasn't going to call her back, God knows what would happen!

Eventually she came back with a plastic cup, filled to the brim. "Brandy and coke" she said as she flung it at me. I wanted to say "WHAT...........NO ICE????", but I didn't. I could feel Phil winding himself up to ask for a drink too, but by the time he got the courage to open his mouth, she was long gone, having disappeared again behind the blue curtain. I offered him a sip of mine, but he graciously turned me down, and sunk into his chair looking as dejected as a kid on Christmas morning who found potatoes in his stocking instead of presents. Where are Noelene and Laurie when you needed them?????

Our flight home wasn't all bad though, we flew through a marvellous lightening storm somewhere over Indonesia, but I didn't tell Phil, because I knew he watched far too many of those "Air Crash Investigation" shows to see the beauty of it. I also watched a great movie with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in it, though as usual I fell asleep before the end, so don't know if they ended up getting together or if it finished like "An Affair to Remember" with Emma Thompson in a wheelchair pretending she was fine, some years later.

By the time we reached Melbourne I was in a heightened state of anticipation. From the moment I'd booked my tickets before Christmas last year, I had pictured myself walking through the big glass doors at Tullamarine, wheeling a trolley weighed down with suitcases and duty-free plastic bags, into the arms of my adoring family and friends, just like in the opening sequence of "Love Actually" (without the Hugh Grant voiceover obviously............though that would be nice). I had replayed this snippet in my mind a million times. When I was marooned on the windswept and lonely station at Castle Cary, this was the picture that kept me warm. When I was sitting in my lonely room during the disappointing overnight stay at a particular hostel in America, this was the picture that made me feel safe. When I stood in the aisle at Notre Dame overwhelmed by the inspirational spiritual energy of the place, this was the picture that kept me grounded. So you will understand, I'd built this scene to a crescendo..........and now I was on the brink of experiencing it. OOOHHHHH!!!

We arrived safe and sound and moved effortlessly through Customs and Immigration..wow, it felt good to hear the friendly voices of my fellow Aussies asking me about the contents of my bag and welcoming me home. I must say I found the electronic “Swine Flu Temperature Detector” tunnel I had to walk through a little confronting, but thankfully despite my long sojourn away from home I didn’t trip off the siren and flashing lights. This must be the first time in my life I was REALLY glad not to be considered “Hot”!

Finally as I approached the big glass doors, trolley weighed down with suitcases and duty-free plastic bags, my beloved at my side, everything was going according to plan. The doors opened and we walked through to……….nothing. No cheers and squeals of delight from adoring fans, no Craig Armstrong piano soundtrack, no “Welcome Home Molly” signs………….NOTHING!

I looked around in desperation and then from the corner of my eye I saw a blur of movement. As we rounded the corner of the barricades, I was almost bowled over by a cute little dot, flowers in hand, who threw her arms around me and said, “Mummy, you’re finally home”. Two more arms encircled me, this time strong male arms, “We sure missed you Moll”. Em and Johnny were my welcoming party, my daughter and her beloved, both so happy, both so excited and then I realised that what Hugh Grant said is right, it doesn’t matter how many people are in the arrivals lounge at the airport, what matters is the feeling they bring with them and at that moment I knew “Love really is……. all around”

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