Setting off on my dream trip was one of those moments that didn’t go quite as I had fantasised about. I pictured being this independent, confident, fit and fabulous woman who was embarking on the greatest of empowering adventures to educate and fill my soul. I was going to come back the best woman. There would be no looking back. No regrets, no apprehension. Mr Vick would ache from missing me so much. He would agonise where I was at every moment, wonder who’s company I was in and regret not booking that plane ticket with me. We would reunite and he would fall more and more in love with every wild and cultured story I would have to tell. This was the way it was going to be.
That fantasy quickly went pear shaped, quite literally, when I discovered (with ticket booked) that I was PREGNANT!!!….. I know, how did that happen right? (and no need to answer with specifics) So I never got that clearly illustrated picture that I had made up in my head. But I was still determined to go, knocked up and all. No need to let a growing fetus get in the road of things. So I decided to carry not just a backpack but a growing baby from country to country and this is how the story went.
The sight of me at the International Melbourne Airport must have appeared a strange & hopeless case. I could be seen fumbling around. I checked, and double checked and again and again for good measure to make sure my passport was indeed where I had put it. I was suffering prego brain to the max and I didn’t quite trust my capability to remember anything. This was surely the recipe for the funniest farce to be seen or just a mere dangerous disaster (which one would it be?). I was about to jet into foreign countries in which I didn’t necessarily know anyone, speak the language, and would be solely responsible not only for myself by my offspring getting fatter by the second in my pouch. I was 23 weeks pregnant upon take off.
Am I going to be able to fit into the clothing I had packed by the end of my trip? Am I actually going to be able to carry my backpack at all (surely it was over 20kg)? What’s going to look fatter? My belly or my backpack? What if I have to wee on the plane every 10 minutes?…. I’m going to want to kill myself…… What if my ankles swell up to the size of an old persons kankle and I can’t actually walk anywhere for the next 2 months?…. What if (and this was the big one that I am sure everyone freaked a bit out about) I do indeed go into labour on the plane? Or in some remote village without a doctor or any standards of hygiene? Ok… that was a bit over the top. I was headed to Europe, and the last time I checked it is deemed a little more than a 3rd world continent.
There was more on my mind too. I was torn about if I should indeed be going at all besides the knocked up bit. Mr Vick’s mother was ready to surrender to a long cancer battle and was expected to live a mere week. I could barely come to grips with the fact that I had probably said my final goodbye to her, in a very casual manner (I had to believe she would be here when I returned) prior to leaving for the airport – with her unborn grandchild in my belly. Was I going to fly 26 hours only to get the dreaded phone call to get back on the plane again? And the biggest…. how can I leave Mr Vick going through all of this on his own? Everyone must have thought my actions completely selfish. Everyone probably did, except him of course. But that is just an example of the amazing, selfless creature that he is. He demanded that I continue on my with my “dream trip”. He was adamant it was going to enrich me and indeed make a better mother. So there I was… feeling all the apprehension in the world, and summonsing up my courage so that I would actually walk through those big international gates and say goodbye. I felt like a child being told I couldn’t have my comfort blanket any longer. All my innards decided to come out. I won’t lie. I started crying. You can imagine right? I mean a pregnant woman’s emotions are fragile at the best, not to mention when she’s about to jet herself to another country for 2 months. Where did my inner empowered woman go? I was freaking, but I did walk through those gates and deeper into the airport ready for take off.
I found myself making my first call to Mr Vick before I even left the country, awaiting my boarding call. Just testing out that my little phone system worked (Skype on my Ipod). It reassured me enough to actually get on the plane. We were only ever just a phone call away right? The world can’t be that big.
Whilst the air hostesses were diplomatic and pretended they didn’t notice I was getting fatter by the second (I must have represented a potential living nightmare for them), I managed to attract a few suspicious glances from the passengers on the plane. I don’t blame them. Pregnant girl on her own. I probably looked like I was being shipped out of the country to hide my expanding girth only to return again in a few months. I’m certain they were pleased not to have me sitting next to them. Who could handle the possibility of sharing a small space with of a blubbering, compulsively eating, peeing, fat ankled, forgetful, woman? Isn’t that some other mans problem? And where was he by the way? Heaven forbid… is she a single woman?…. don’t ask the awkward question of if there is a Dad in the picture.
I knew my initial apprehension had dissolved when I wanted to suddenly let out a loud cheer when the plane heaved up into the sky. WOOOOOO! I was doing it! Despite everything, I did feel liberated. I was struck that no one else seemed to want to share my sentiments. Does everyone take that trip regularly? No one else is having a little dream trip? Even “Little Vick” (baby in belly) joined in the spirit and let out a strong force of taps on the top of my tum to let me know, this is ace fun, thanks Mum. I knew then, the kid was going to be alright. I like him.It’s just him and I on this trip and since he’s pretty cool, we’re going to do alright. I was not going to be alone, ever.
I said my little prayer to the aviation gods asking to fly good and right and get me and “Little Vick” to safe ground on the other end (perhaps I did ask for a smidge of turbulence as I’m a bit of a spontaneous turbulence junkie), and from that moment I just trusted I was safe in this big old universe.
As I neared my stop over in Dubui I started noticing countries like Yeman, Oman, Qatar, countries which I did not even know existed. How big is the world again? A fraction more than what I had given it credit for obviously and obviously my geography knowledge did not really extend beyond year 8′s look at Australia. I looked out the window and was bewildered to see sand dunes stretching as far as the horizon…. nothing but sand. No tree, no sign of life. Nothing. This was not the outback. I was so far from home.
At Dubai airport I happily stretched my legs. No sign of kankles (hooray!!). I was struck by the men walking around in turbans, some with capes flowing behind and garments that resembled big moo moo’s. I felt myself in a play surrounded by people in costumes. They looked like very serious types. I felt a little uneasy. What would they think of an unmarried, defenseless, pregnant woman roaming around on her own here? If I was a woman of these dunes my opportunities would be vastly different. Chances of dream trips on your own, pregnant, were slim, or as good as none.
Needless to say I kept a low profile here. I didn’t want the scrutiny of such self empowered types. Besides I didn’t have any big bucks to buy any bling which sparkled everywhere the eye could see, so I stuck close to the free wifi instead like a true dinks back packer.
For the entire trip I sat next to a quiet, unassuming, aging man who barely spoke a word for the entire 26 hours. It humors me that you can sit next to someone for so long and only strike up a conversation when the runway is in sight. We discovered we both came from Geelong which when you’re flying to the other side of the world seems like a joyous coincidence. We were instant buddies. He told me how he does the trip annually to spend 3 months off the coast off somewhere exotic and remote along the coast near Croatia…. or Greece… or somewhere down there. Again my geography failed me. He looked to be a man who didn’t have much but I admired that he put the money and time away for himself every year to go and spend a decent amount of time by the sea and in the sun, and surrounded himself by a different culture and existence. That to me sounds like the good life. Some people get it soooo right. Perhaps it takes nearly a lifetime?
To be honest, I survived the trip better than probably most. I wasn’t going to complain about the plane ride that was shipping me off on my dream trip, like some would. I’d saved for months to take that 26 hour plane ride. I wasn’t going to whinge about the fact they were willing to cook and deliver delicious food (everything’s delicious in such a condition – and to be honest I was already in the back packer mindset; best eat now for free cos I don’t know when my next meal will come along or how much I will have to pay for it) to me every couple of hours or the fact that I got to watch movies non stop for practically 26 hours… I couldn’t afford the DVD rentals at home for that movie marathon. Somehow I did manage to afford $25 worth of magazines which I was certain I would need to kill the boredom – I didn’t read a single one. It should also be noted that I only needed to go to the toilet once during that entire time.
When I touched down at Heathrow airport after a 26 hour flight, with 2 stop overs and my almost 6 month bump I felt like I had already completed my around the world trip. I could have happily gone home then and there cos I felt I had already triumphed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and pride and excitement. It was certainly something for the girl who grew up near Timboon, who hailed from a predominantly farming family who’s every member, up until now, had not so much as seen the insides of a jet of such proportionate size nor stepped foot into another country, not even visited Tasmania. My dream had always been to be living that moment, and I finally I was and I wasn’t alone. “Little Vick” was in for the journey of a life time too.
Someone looks stupidly happy about finally arriving on the other side of the world!