Five long, slow years of preparation slammed into reality a few short months before the "big off". Time, which had slowly stretched out like a huge elastic band, stung as it snapped back into the here and now of "its really going to happen". There were great flurries of activity as we raced to finish our preparations.
Finally, on one stinking hot, humid February day the Land Rovers were led into their shipping containers. TH and F1 broiled inside as they lashed them down and nailed the chocks around the wheels.
In times of stress I often think about food, and I suddenly remembered I hadn’t packed a large cooking knife. This was a great omission for a "foodie" like me. I rushed home and kidnapped the carving knife straight out of my kitchen drawer. I came racing back into the shipping yard, brandishing it about like some demented banshee. There was only time to throw it inside the Land Rover and then the big container doors were slammed shut.
All our hopes and dreams were sealed up in that metal box. The next time we’d see our "precious babies" again, would be almost half the world away in Seattle, USA.
TH and I went home and stared at a very empty and silent garage. This was the start of the emotional roller coaster ride. Up until now we had been calmly fixed on preparing the Land Rovers, securing the funding, planning the route, packing tools, parts, camping gear, getting ourselves jabbed full of vaccinations and doing everything needed to meet the shipping date. Now, we had three weeks to pack up ourselves, our homes, our careers and fly over to the States in time to meet the Land Rovers.
The world around us became polarised into those who listened to our plans with a look of longing and dreams unfulfilled and the others - the doom merchants, who dwelled in the dark recesses of "what if something happens…"
People would clutch hold of me when they said their goodbyes and scan my face, as if they were trying to memorise it. I knew they thought that they would never see me again. I could read the anxiety in their eyes. I could almost smell their fear. Hey you lot. It is ME that is doing this, not you. I will come back. I’m Eventful Woman. I do things like this all the time.
The day before departure, I began to feel like I had prepared for a death - my own. When I had imagined this moment years earlier, I had expected I would fly gloriously away from New Zealand with maybe a small, sentimental tear shed for those left behind. Instead, as I sat forlornly in the window seat of our empty house, with the last of our possessions stacked into storage, I felt that life as I knew it was tidied away, neatly packaged with labels. I didn’t belong to it anymore, but nor did I jump forward to the new life of adventurer/heroine. I was lost in the no man’s land in between.
When good friends came to collect TH and I to spend our last night with them, I confess to floods of tears when I turned the key in the lock for the last time on our front door. The house was empty and so was I.
At the departure gate at Auckland International Airport on 3rd March 1998, I stopped for one last look back. Our friends had gathered into a warm little huddle. I felt swamped by the huge waves of my emotions. I poised on this last chance to change my mind and I wanted to rush back to their safety
But, Eventful Woman won the battle over Emotional Woman. I forced a smile, waved and stepped into the unknown.
© Eventful Woman, 2005
Note: Photo taken at Wave Rock in Western Australia. The small figure at the base of the wave is Eventful Woman.
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