Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Monday, August 8, 2016
It’s August, so we must be in Australia.
Just kidding. Here’s what happened:
One Saturday morning in April, after the doctor stitched my Achilles back together but before I could shower without the three legged medical stool, I was idly, and somewhat opioidately, reclining on the mattress in the living room which had replaced the coffee table in the space between the two loveseats.
Since it was too hard to crutch up the stairs to my bedroom every day, the mattress was my new command central, an essential destination in the room we usually save for guests and holidays.
The apple green leather loveseats, the ones that smell like luxury, the splurge that we hardly ever sit on for fear of staining them, were draped with pill bottles, dirty plates, half-read magazines and other bedside table detritus. The rug across the hardwood floor, the one that had taken me three months to pick out, was littered with left shoes and underwear. My sweatshirt hung from the fireplace grate; my crutches X’d across the sideboard table. Cat hair dusted the blankets. I stank.
The house was quiet: Guy and Toby were across the river at a math tournament. Tavish was reading in another room. The cat and dog were asleep on either side of me, lifting their heads to glare if I shifted positions. I was supposed to be on the computer revamping my Writing 122 class so it could run online, since I couldn’t drive to the college to teach it. Instead I skimmed Twitter and other cheap internet entertainment and pretended I was missing the day by choice, rather than necessity.
At some point, I read an article in the travel section of the Washington Post that mentioned a digital newsletter called “Scott’s Cheap Flights” as a helpful tool to save on airline tickets.
It was free. I joined.
Three hours later, while still in the same room/clothes/body position and lack of progress on my class, I got a notification from “Scott’s Cheap Flights”.
I opened it.
“Mistake Fare on Virgin Australia!” the heading teased.
I read on.
“Flights on Virgin Australia $429 from LAX.” I read. “Buy now before the airline catches the mistake and changes the price.”
“Ha ha,” I said to myself and went back to looking at horses for sale at the Auction Horses.com website.
An hour later, I felt lightheaded. I gathered my crutches and limped outside to breathe. I tried to find a reason NOT to go to Australia for $429.
I came up empty.
I stumbled back inside and reread the Scott’s Cheap Flights email. I pulled up the Virgin Australia website and noted that there were, indeed, flights from LAX to Sydney in August, for $429.
I hit “reply” to the Scott’s Cheap Flights” email and typed: “Scott,” I asked. Is this a scam?”
“Ha ha,” I said to myself and took a couple Advil. I ate a handful of chocolate chips and tried to take a nap.
A restless fortyfive mintues later, I checked my email. There was a message from “Scott”. He said “Hi! This isn’t a scam”, but I still doubted.
I told him that we were going to Bulgaria, and I thought it would be fun to take my kids to Australia but I didn’t want to get scammed. He said that he just gotten back from Bulgaria, and that he thought that the boys and I would have a fantastic time in Australia.
Scott seemed nice.
My stomach got the pre-Christmas flutters. I pulled myself upright and crutched my way to Tavish. Tavish is a practical person and I often use him as a sounding board, even though he’s thirteen.
“Tav,” I said. “What if we went to Australia. Would that be a good thing?”
“For how long?” he asked, because I’d promised the boys we wouldn’t be overseas during Christmas time this year.
“Only a couple weeks,” I reassured him. “Not over Christmas, or even your birthday.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Sure,” he said. “Why not?”
I leaned against the doorway.
“The way I see it,” I said slowly, thinking out loud, “is that you’re SUPPOSED to go on family vacations during the summer. EVERYBODY goes on vacation in the summer. We’d be doing a perfectly normal thing for a change. It would be like going to Disneyland, except it’s Australia.”
“Probably,” he said, nodding.”
“I’ve always wanted to see a kangaroo,” I mused.
“Kangaroos are cool,” he agreed.
“And it’s not like we’re doing anything in August, anyway,” I mused. “You aren’t signed up for any summer camps.”
“Thank goodness,” he said, because after the magic wand camp, I swore I wouldn’t sign the boys up for any more summer camps without consulting them first.
“Plus!” I added, “I bet your teachers would be really happy if we went on vacation in August, instead of in February like we usually do. Your teachers don’t like it when you miss school to go on vacation. We would be doing them a FAVOR!”
“Hmm mmm,” Tavish murmered. He’d gone back to his book.
The choice was obvious.
I went back to my mattress, hit the link on Scott’s Cheap Flights and bought three round trip tickets to Australia.
A few hours later, Guy and Toby got home. The math competition had gone well—Toby’s team came in second place among the teams, Toby came in third place as an individual. There were trophies, and plaques and photographs. It had been a successful numerical day.
After the congratulatory dust settled, I cleared my throat.
“Guy,” I said, in the voice I use when he needs to stop what he is doing and listen.
He looked at me warily.
“Yes?” he asked.
I cleared my throat.
“Guy,” I said. “I think you should know that the boys and I are going to Australia. In August.”
“WHAT?” he yelped. “I want to go to Australia!”
“Really?” I asked doubtfully. “I just figured you wouldn’t want to go.”
“Are you KIDDING!” he sputtered, “Australia is my dream trip!”
“Really?” I asked again. “I thought you were out of vacation time?”
“It’s fine,” he said, without even consulting Tavish, or making a mental list of pros and cons or worrying about what the boys’ teachers would think. “I’ll make it work.”
And he did.