Sunday, May 01, 2005

Driving to the airport: 1

I don’t know whether this happens for everybody, but I hope it does. Somewhere in the past I started seeing my parents as individuals, rather than as my parents. It’s a very big change of perspective. We now get along almost as friends. In earlier years, I think none of us could have imagined this miraculous change of atmosphere (which had been previously somewhat fraught, shall we say, at least from my own point of view).

I drove up to Brisbane today with Mum and Dad. They flew out for an overseas holiday, and on the way there I was struck once again by how cute they are.

Dad loves planning things: designing itineraries, doing all the research, booking the planes and trains and hotels. He printed out a detailed list of their travel plans for this trip, and distributed it to everyone within range. If you’d like to know where they’ll be in five or ten or fifteen days time, the name and phone number of the hotel, the mode of transport (with ticket numbers) and estimated time of arrival, you could probably just ask anyone on the north coast of NSW; we've all got a copy of the itinerary.

Mum organises details of a different kind: clothes, more clothes, and the extra suitcase of clothes, plus all the little bits and pieces you need when travelling - all carefully colour-coordinated, neatly packed, and possibly finalised in the thirty seconds available before it was time to leave the house. I’m guessing she’ll have offered some of the big ideas for the trip (“Croatia looks nice, love”) and Dad will have plotted out their battle plan.

Mum will be the one taking photos - they’ll spend a few hours getting just this angle right, or waiting for the sun to move just around that cloud (Dad mentally tapping his foot and rolling his eyes).

Then when they get home, Dad will go through and arrange the photos in albums, cross-referenced to a map (where he’ll have drawn their route in coloured pens).

Mum will take every opportunity to buy presents for people back home - hours spent looking for just the right shade of blue for their granddaughter’s scarf, for example, or a day or two traipsing through markets searching for just some tiny thing to make her friends laugh (Dad doing more of the mental foot-tapping and eye-rolling, and possibly looking at his watch - the time having been pre-adjusted in the plane on the way over).

I’m glad I get to see them like this. There’s always just a hint of fear for me as they walk towards the airport departure gates: nobody knows the future. I hope they travel well. God bless my Mum and Dad. They’re nice people.