I have left Australia just once before; when I was twelve, and it was only to New Zealand. My memory of the departure experience has long faded, and was long overdue for a refresher.
So many times now, I have seen people disappear behind those mysterious doors that lead into the international departure lounges at Melbourne Airport, yet I’ve not experienced them for myself before. Tonight, I get to find out what’s back there. We traveled to New Zealand once when I was in my early years of high school, but I’ve no memory of going through the doors to the customs gate, and so it’s all new again for me—perhaps this time the memory will stick.
We had a final meal (of sorts) in a fake Irish pub in the airport building with myself, my parents, my brother and his girlfriend (who themselves are departing for Mexico, Central and South America a week from now). I say a meal of sorts because I for one was not hungry, and the meals were a touch expensive and low on quality, but you get that with airport food to the same extent as airline food.
Last night Mum and Dad took me to a movie of my choice, and shouted me dinner for my last night in Warrnambool (for a while anyway). My choice of movie was United 93, and it occurred to me about ten minutes in that perhaps a story about a plane hijacking was not a good movie to watch the night before I fly out of the country. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the movie in a bizarre kind of way, because it didn’t try to portray America as a nation of heroes, but rather ordinary people who lived an extraordinary day, and did their best to get through it. We saw the trailer for World Trade Center in the lead in, and I’m glad I got to see a real film about that day. The title of his new film suggests Oliver Stone’s imagination keeps getting better and better…
…right now it is approaching 11:30pm. I’m through the customs gate and I have to say it was less than the experience I’d expected. For some reason I’d thought it would feel more like stepping off a precipice, but perhaps that will happen when I board the plane. Speaking of which, I am looking down at the 747 parked at the departure gate and wondering how they plan on getting it off the ground, let alone keeping it in the air.
My back-pack, bulging at the seams, has been checked through to Madrid. I have my boarding pass in hand, and am carrying my computer bag, which contains (in addition to my computer), two cameras, two lenses, a bunch of chargers and cables and other electronic gadgets. I’ve got a definite feeling I’ve brought stuff I won’t need, and a nagging suspicion that I’ve left something important behind. I’m trying my best to remember the exercises to prevent DVT, and am mildly alarmed on remembering that consumption of alcohol can contribute to DVT. I need a drink to settle my nerves.
It’s all beyond my control now, and for the next 30 hours or so, I’m at the mercy of whatever comes at me. It’s 11:45pm and they’re making the final boarding call.