Family Holidays without the Family.

 

 

 

If I could go back in time, what would I tell my 20 year old self ? Travel, travel and travel.

I didn’t travel as a child . My family weren’t travellers , hell we didn’t even go on picnics. The only way I learnt about the world was through Disney movies and World book encyclopedias.

I think it’s cool when young couples take their offspring on adventures around the world. Education right there.

Travel is something I really wished I had experienced before having children. Holidaying with no one to worry about but yourself. Wonder what that’s like?

A few years ago I decided to pretend that I actually didn’t have a family and one lunch hour during work I decided to book a holiday for just myself and my husband. Just a break away without the kids. As I tend to not do things by halves I sort of found myself on the Qantas website and I sort of happened to click onto 2 return air fairs from Brisbane to San Francisco. Yep , that should do it for me, that should whet the appetite for a little getaway. East coast of Australia to West Coast of US of A takes about 14 hours. This is where the fun times start for my husband because he has a massive fear of flying. Even on a 2 hour flight , he is rendered speechless and sweating , so yeah, fun times to be had.  ” Think of all the movies we can watch in peace, ” I said trying to make light of his phobia.

He had not long lost his father to cancer and I think he felt like it might do him some good so he agreed.

Oh yes, that’s right we have some kids! Damn , what to do? The 2 eldest stayed at grandmas and the youngest was passed around between a neighbour, friend and other grandparents. I had all details covered from enough money for school bus fares, lunches prepared and every medication known to man kind. Just in case one of them contracted the Ebola virus while we were gone.

I must say that I had absolutely no guilt at leaving them behind. None. Mother of the year award goes to .. ( not me obviously).

I was frothing at the mouth to do this thing It was like I was starved of travel experiences , well I was. Apart from a trip to New Zealand and the South Sea Islands I had never attempted anything like this especially sans children.

Who doesn’t want to go to America? This had always been my dream . I knew it would happen one day and I knew from a young age. An Australian girl that grew up watching endless Disney, Brady Bunch , Happy Days’ episodes and the rest of the American cartoons and of course teen 80’s movies. Molly RingWald , anyone??  I remember Sunday afternoons as a kid watching The Wonderful World of Disney , where at the start it shows the attractions of Disneyland with the Teacup Ride and the Jungle Cruise. I was obsessed with the teacups and the Jungle Cruise.

As a 7 year old I announced to my mum that “One day I was going to go on those Teacups”.  In that motherly reassuring way she simply replied “No you won’t dear, it’s too far away “. Ok then.

Fast forward  30 odd years as I touch down in San Francisco on the coldest day I’ve ever experienced with a heavy head cold and a husband that hadn’t said a word for 14 hours with plane fright. I was finally here.

Instant love at first sight with this place . Over the next five days San Fran showed off in every way imaginable. From the jazz bars to the baseball game to the huge redwoods in Muir Woods to Alcatraz and of course that bridge- the great Golden Gate. Breath taken. I’m in love. Like Tony Bennett said, I left my heart in San Francisco.

Over the next 3 weeks we cruised on the wrong side of the road from one end of California to the other. I face booked every second of it and left loving FB messages for my kids to which there were no replies . Yeah, they missed us, big time. My husband would ask , “Do you feel guilty ? Do you miss the kids? “.  I didn’t . I really didn’t ( she says with a devious laugh). “They will get their chance one day,” I told him with all the empathy of an Army Drill Sargent. That’s how much I needed this adventure. Care factor zero, zilch and nada. I had worked solidly for years with minimal breaks and now it was my time to shine. I made it up to them by buying ridiculous amounts of shoes, clothes and not much for myself.

The last 2 days saw us at The Happiest Place on Earth. No, not Vegas. Disneyland. Let me get my bucket list out and get ready to tick off those Teacups and Jungle Cruise.

This place really knows it’s shit. I mean really. The attention to detail in every little thing is mind blowing. Every kid needs to go to Disneyland. Except mine , they were at home. “Ok, now I feel guilty,” I said to my husband.

I noticed the Teacups in the distance. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe I did both. I could hear my mums voice telling me “They’re too far away,” in the back of my mind. To my husband’s relief we managed to get a pink teacup –  it was always going to be pink. Told you I was obsessed. We spun and spun and I fucking loved every second. So much so, we did it again.  Next stop was Jungle Cruise . My husband wasn’t familiar with the ride but I knew it inside and out because I had a book about it as a kid. I was near hysterical at this point as I recognised all the animals in it as I  remembered as a kid. I think he even dozed off during the peaceful boat ride.

We stayed at Disneyland until it was time to get the shuttle back to the airport for the long trek home. We arrived home more tired than when we left, the kids were happy for us and we were on a high for months.

Two years after this trip my eldest son did get his chance and went over on a Contiki trip and experienced much more than we did. I’m sure the other boys will eventually do the same.

This was possibly the most spur of the moment, crazy thing I have ever done as a mother . It fed my soul and spirit on so many levels and the memories have stayed with me for years.  I felt reckless , careless and free. Even if it was only 3 weeks.

That Bridge!

 

 

Anyone for a Jungle Cruise? Disneyland

 

 

My girl crush – Jessie the Cowgirl, California Adventure Park.

 

 

 

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

 

 

Marin coastline. SF.

Marin coastline. SF.

 

 

Mirror Lake , Yosemite.

Mirror Lake , Yosemite.

 

Tunnel View, Yosemite

Tunnel View, Yosemite

 

Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living

Storm trooper attack on Hollywood Blvd. $1 tip for the photo. Even storm troopers need to make a living

 

Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.

Hubby keeping it real at Roscoes in West Hollywood.

 

 

 

 

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Alcatraz

 

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Rec Yard , Alcatraz.

 

 

 

hooray for Hollywood

Hooray for Hollywood

 

 

Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.

Highway 1, Big Sur , on a rare rainy day.

 

Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.

Pick the tourist, that would be me, on the Walk of Fame, Hollywood.

 

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Teacups

 

Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don't know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.

Cheesecake Factory was our second home. I don’t know why we bothered with hotels, we should have just stayed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blame it on Mars in retrograde. Whatever that means.

Apparently we  are in the middle of Mars in retrograde or Mercury something or other and this is meant to cause some crazy shit within us. Inner turmoil , questioning our life moves and motives etc. The past 2 weeks I have seen many Facebook and Instagram posts with people just struggling. Struggling with what life is dishing out and feelings of unease with what the future holds for them. From illness, marriage breakdown , unemployment, money issues and family dilemmas. I am like litmus paper when heavy stuff is going down and I seem to pick up on everyone’s woes. I can see it in my friends photos, read the hidden meaning in their statuses and generally just feel it. It’s the Cancerian in me. image

I have definitely felt it within myself . I get that feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious , procrastinating and basically getting in a dither.  Over the years I have learnt what I need to do. For me it’s almost instinctual but it’s about getting  myself back to basics. Simple living. Simple food, simple work week , simple weekend , simple housework and simple conversation. I already only take on what I want to do. I say NO to unnecessary stuff pretty easily. I refuse to ferry children around to 20 zillion after school activities. Pick 1 sport kid and it better be on a Saturday morning so I can get on with my weekend. I suffered adrenal fatigue years ago which  resulted in a cool dose of glandular fever. Lesson learnt. I know my limits .

My lil  Mars in retrograde came to a crescendo last week with me waking Saturday morning feeling a bit poorly and bone achingly tired. Knowing I had to drive my child a half hour to a football carnival and stay most of the day filled me with dread. My husband couldn’t do it because he had football duty with the other son. Anyway change of plans happened and I hit the jackpot and got to stay home alone. I repeat , this never ever happens. I am never ever home alone. I waited until everyone left then I made an Earl Grey , layed on the bed with the paper , opened to the 2nd page and fell asleep for nearly 4 hours. Once again this never happens to me , I haven’t slept 4 hours in the day since I was 3 months old.   Obviously I needed it , my mother told me. Clearly I did.

It followed a couple of weeks of a list of things that just pissed me off. Nothing outrageous or life changing and for this I have gratitude ( word of the moment ) . Just a cumulative list of bullshit things that when aren’t addressed  immediately tend to sit in the back of your mind festering away until you need a 4 hour sleep in my case.

Assignments that got deleted , burnt dinners , children pushing limits, money issues, people letting me down and generally just feeling disappointed in the human race at times. Blah blah . Nothing heavy.

Outcome of all this resulted in some yucky texting ping pong with a girlfriend of 30 years over a damn holiday. Now this is when shit got real. I still have very mixed feelings over how this all went down but it played out something like this. 2 years ago I made a 3 hour drive to visit my girlfriend and stay the weekend. Over that weekend  on a Saturday afternoon we were laying around eating sweet and salty popcorn watching ‘Bridesmaids ‘ when she told me that in 2015 she will have 10 years service up at her work and will be offered 2 return tickets to anywhere. She asked me if I would go to New York with her but I would have to pay accommodation. Needless to say the answer was a big fucking yes, yes and yes. Did I mention that I said yes? Hell yes. No handshake , no contract signed and no damn pinky swear. Just 2 old friends making plans.

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Cue to last weekend when I received a text from her asking if I was still up for NYC in September next year? Um …..yeah. Let me go pack. In the text she mentioned another girlfriend was coming. Great ! The more the merrier. Excited texts back and forth regarding boroughs to stay in and so forth. I didn’t want to sound like a complete scab and ask about the free return ticket. I worded the next text along the lines of ” Is there still a discount with the airfair?” This is where I stop singing JayZ and Alicia Keys  “Empire State of mind “.

Text back was a blur of something like “Oh I’ve given the free ticket to ( other friend) . You will have to buy your own , but if she opts not to go , it’s yours. Don’t worry babe, I’m sure there will be some great deals with VIrgin or Delta”. I just sat and stared at the text and thought , WOW. Just WOW. I know my girlfriend is kinda ditzy at times and quite aloof and this is what I love most about her , but , Really? This brought all kinds of emotions up, disappointment , confusion, undeserving and feelings of me acting like a spoilt brat. I started to accept it and then the Mars Retrograde set in. Fuck this shit. I knew I was in no frame of mind to ring her and discuss so I continued on with the texts. I decided to jog her memory.

“Actually it was you and I that had this trip done and dusted 2 years ago. Remember ?”  I relayed the story about the popcorn eating afternoon talking about it. Apparently she could just recall it, only just.  ” Did I? Silly me. I’m sure I’ve got dementia. Oh well ” was the response. Awkward . What to do? She started to ring my mobile to which I ignored. I didn’t want to talk about how she had a “blonde”moment. The truth was it wasn’t ok, it wasn’t cool. Was I acting like an ungrateful brat ? Was I ungrateful for now having to pay my own way and sit 19 hours alone on a plane .She genuinely forgot, people stuff up and make mistakes , I get it. But how many times do we excuse people messing us over? It happened and I politely let her know my displeasure. So why now do I feel like the bad guy? I have no interest in going or reclaiming the ticket. Then the other friend misses out on what SHE has been promised. It’s all too awkward .

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