What a year… and New Year

I started writing this post back on Jan 4th. Lord have mercy, I’ve been slack, and busy, and weary, and tired, and lazy.

Since my last post in October, the last two months of 2018 were kicked in to overdrive. I frantically filled out VISAs, had my baby brothers wedding, my mothers 60th, went to the United States, had a disastrous coming home experience, had Christmas, and then New Years. Leading in to the previous two months of the New Year so much else has happened I’d almost lost track of the fact tomorrow is March.

So that’s all a lot to process, so let’s unpack the last few months and get everyone up to speed… As much as I can remember.

November 23rd marked the day my brother convinced a woman to legally look after him until death do they part. It was a small, intimate ceremony with a grand total of 30 guests. The windows looked out over waterfalls, and the catering was to die for. The bride, stunning as ever, and my brother walked down the isle with his villainous mustache and floppy hair. It was a pretty spectacular embodiment of who they are as people.

Prepping for the obligatory photos

Watching my brother walk his bride down the isle (my family never one to do anything too traditional) it occurred to me that love really does have strange ways of seeping in to our lives and taking root with the most unlikely of people in the strangest of circumstances. Rarely do we ask for it and rarely do we want it to happen when it does.

The following weekend was my darling mothers 60th birthday. A number I am still trying to come to terms with for a host of reasons. My father never got his 60th, and it’s something I still lament. I had spent years planning my dads 60th, but never occurred to me to plan my mothers. Thankfully everything pulled together and we had a lovely lunch with my mothers friends I had never met, my friends who have all been close to my parents, and old family friends who may as well be family.

Sitting at the long table, watching my mother interact with these people made me realise how much I miss or am unaware of in my family’s life since I moved to a different state. I hear about certain things, and for a lot of the information I have a face to the name, but more often than not I don’t. Or we discuss work, research, weather, and very rarely do we have time to touch on our personal lives as both mum and I are swamped with our workloads. It’s a saddening realisation that, while mum and I have gotten closer over the years since dad’s death, we still know very little about each other and the day to day happenings. I almost envy the people who are in constantly in the loop with their parents.

Not two days after my mothers celebration I was on a plane to LA + San Francisco, California. Headed towards the happiest place on earth, I was ticking off few theme parks from my bucket list for my birthday. I got to try Dennys, discovered what half and half is (turns out it’s half milk, half cream), discovered that Americans sugar and over salt everything (including my salads), and got to spend time exploring the streets of LA + San Francisco and all the touristy delights that came with it.

Disneyland was my 29th birthday present to myself and from my darling godmother who also took me to the Shanghai Disneyland for it’s grand opening – which I am now realising I never wrote about. We spent 3 out of our 4 day pass inside the magical kingdom (and California Adventure Park) but day 4 saw Anaheim flooded with water, torrential rain, and both of us with chest infections. Until that point though, it was truly the happiest place on Earth…

Turns out I had more than enough Disney Paraphernalia before I ever walked through the gates…

From LA we went to San Francisco – Possibly my new favourite city (after Melbourne, of course). Pier 39 offered some stunning views of the bay and sea lions, and the golden gate was truly everything it was cracked up to be – until it became the most common thing in the world to drive over – which I must have done 10 times in the space of 2 days. We stayed on a tour bus for a total 12 hour day – dusk til dawn, listening to different tour guides, hearing different stories, and seeing different sights as fog cleared and returned in different parts of the beautiful city.

The Alcatraz tour is definitely something I will never forget. It was hands down my favourite part of San Fran and it’s vast and colourful history. Walking through the halls, looking at and into the cell blocks was eye opening and mesmerizing. Listening to the tape play, hearing the voices of the inmates, and reading the atrocities committed inside and out of the cell blocks was an experience I am truly grateful for. It is fascinating now being able to read the biographies of several of the inmates and being able to accurately visualize the areas of discussion as I’ve walked the same hallways. It’s easy to place yourself in those halls, in those moments, having felt the grenade blast on the concrete, seen the showering station, and walked the guards catwalk… But more importantly, experiencing the sun on my face, the smell of the water and seeing the bridge and the San Franciscan shore line from the grounds… It’s not hard to imagine that the mental torture of not being able to get across the frigid water. The view from Alcatraz really was the biggest punishment.

Coming home was an utter disaster. What should have been a cruisey solo 14 hour direct flight home turned in to a colossal fluster-cluck of shitbaggery. The plane we were on was hit by lightning, creating an 8 hour delay in San Francisco. I was then directed to board an Air NZ flight headed to Auckland. Once in Auckland I had no money, no clothes, nothing on me other than a dying phone, a dying Kindle, and not enough US or Aussie currency to convert to NZD. The bank had no idea I was in New Zealand (Coz I was never meant to be there) so I couldn’t use my card or get money from an ATM. Qantas were fighting me, saying I should have been fed on the flight (I was… 4 hours ago and had another 9 hours of layover to go). To them, they didn’t see the problem. I got mad. My godmother in San Fran got mad. Qantas caved and gave me a $15 food voucher for food – in an airport where coffee alone cost $6. Thankfully the team at the bagelry took pity on me and fed me. 9 hours later, I was back on a plane to Melbourne, heading home on another 4.5 hour flight. Once I arrived however, I discovered the airline had lost my luggage.

I cried in the taxi the whole way home.

Several phone calls, complaints, letters, and days later my luggage arrived with an apology and a reimbursement for my troubles was issued. I had calmed down and accepted life at that point, but I was very glad to have my new ugly sweater collection back in my possession.

SO. MANY. TAGS.

I’ll leave it there for now, as this was an insanely long post about nothing in particular. I’m hoping to go back to writing more frequently as I have many updates, new things happening and have been having interesting discussions with people that I want to ruminate over a bit more fully.

Stay silly, kids. I’ve missed you. xx


One thought on “What a year… and New Year

  1. Looks like you did all The California Things! Alcatraz is really fascinating, too. I don’t know how airlines can lose luggage but they do on a regular basis, it seems. Glad to hear you got home safely (finally) with a bit of compensation.

    Like

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