For some of you, perhaps those in South Africa and Australia, it's the middle of the year. Winter has arrived and life is moving along at its usual speed, you may even notice that you're settling in and the schedule is beginning to make sense. For others in the Northern Hemisphere it's a whole different story.
My girlfriend Cathy, once described the lead up to summer as being similar to the end of the spin cycle in a washing machine. It gets faster and faster and faster, and just when you think the washing machine is going to lift off the ground, it stops dead. Summer has arrived.
We're at the height of the spin cycle. Last minute assignments are being done for report cards. Projects are being printed with screams of "we've run out of ink!" I have two trips to make to the school today for different presentations. I calmed a twelve year old trombone player this morning while she sat on bed, she is sure that her Trombone will lock and it will all be a disaster. There is fairy bread to be made for class parties. Jobs that I've left on the "to do" list that now REALLY have to be done as I'm about to disappear for twelve weeks. There are the phone calls to Australia for confirmation; the hire car, the doctors appointment, the transit hotel, the hairdresser.
And the suitcase sits in the corner smiling it's big empty smile.
Every now and then I open a drawer and look at something and mutter under my breath "mustn't forget that". The laptop power adapter and the sim card with my Australian number. The invoice for the print I had framed in Adelaide last year and then forgot to pick up before we left. The scratchy instant money ticket that was never claimed at the news agency. I've pulled out the children's library cards and my reward program that I have with the local grocer. As I put them into plastic pockets I can see myself standing in the store using them. I'm at the newsagents on a Saturday morning flicking through a big fat 'Australian' newspaper making sure it has the magazine inside. I'm at the butchers talking about his son, asking if he's been over to Melbourne to visit the grandkids. I'm giggling at the hairdressers, catching up on ten months worth of stories. I can see myself opening my friend Penny's gate, walking along the side of her house, being sad for her when I remember that Bella the labrador is no longer there to slobber over our feet.
I'm so ready to get home. Events in the last week have left us all emotionally exhausted. None of us want to forget, but we all want to escape. I feel a great need to walk along the beach, watch the waves come in, smell the air, and experience the comfort of understanding where I am and how things work. It makes no sense, there is beach here in Qatar, but I want the rolling waves, the kiosk, the cliffs and the jetty. I need to get to Renmark and see the river. I need to see a local policeman, a fire truck and a council office, to be reminded of the order that comes with community and local government. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Maybe not if you're currently living in a developing country.
The little travelers are tired. The temperatures are in the high forties now and we've all had colds. The third little traveler has had an ear infection and cannot swim which is just cruel, but his ear needs to be better to be on the plane. I'm constantly filling them all with vitamin c, telling them to hang on. It's getting harder to get them out of bed and they, like me, already have their heads and hearts somewhere else. "What's the first thing you're going to eat?" I heard one of the boys ask the other "a sausage, and then a freddo frog and then a crumpet and then..."
The spin cycle winds up and continues to whir and shudder, but we're so close.