Posts tagged: holiday

Day 247

By , June 30, 2011 10:00 am

Monday 28th June 2010

Gestation: 39 weeks, 3 days

One year ago.

Our flight home is delayed by six hours.

So we spend the evening, our last unexpected evening, two hundred metres down the road from the airport, at a shitty old hotel, watching the last of our downloaded movies.

When we finally arrive home, at 3.30am on Monday, the pilot wakes us all with his announcement:

“Welcome to Melbourne, where outside, it is a frosty three degrees.”

There’s nothing quite like leaving your house unheated for nine days to realise how good its insulation is.

“I’m getting straight into bed,” Suse yells down the wintery hallway,  “I’m not even taking my clothes off.”

I walk into the room, and checking the electric blanket is on five, I do the same.  We huddle together, under our down-filled doona, like we’re on another adventure.

“That was fun,” Suse says, her beanie slipping down over her eyes.

We snuggle in close, holding each other tightly, as we drift off to sleep.

The holiday is over.


* * * * *

But it feels like we’ve turned a new leaf.  This holiday helped us to heal.  We’ve stopped taking it out on each other, using one another as an instrument to deal with our own problems.  We’ve regained the love.  And the pain is easing.

We’ve made peace with this whole pregnancy thing.

For the moment.


* * * * *

Day 242

By , June 23, 2011 10:00 am

Wednesday 23rd June 2010

Gestation: 38 weeks, 5 days

One year ago.

So again today, I run.  After realising yesterday how much I am reading into things, I try to drop it.  I try to stop reading into things, but it’s hard.  Because one thing remains constant.

Each day I run, each day in the parching, drenching afternoon sun, I run along the beach, each day clocking a time slower than the day before, each day feeling more and more sapped by the dropping sun.

And one thing remains constant.

As I double back, sprinting home through the spongy sand, my feet sinking in quicksand, I look out at the horizon.  And each day, each and every day, I see a solitary boat – a different one each time, and yet a solitary boat – directly under the light of the sun, infallibly dissected in half by the sun’s ray, slicing vertically through the water, spreading it’s shimmering beam into the azure waters below.

A singleton ship.  Out on the horizon.  Every single day.

In those same waters that our pink and blue boats sailed.

And only the pink boat floating on.

Continuing on, well after we left.

One thing remains constant.

* * * * *

Day 241

By , June 22, 2011 10:00 am

Tuesday 22nd June 2010

Gestation: 38 weeks, 4 days

One year ago.

Each day, I run.  And as I do, I make a choice.  I make a choice about my family, and what it will be.  It goes like this:


‘I choose the end result of a healthy, loving happy family.’


Running is my form of meditation.  I’m not like other people who can be still in meditation.  I get my meditation – my sense of centredness and presence – only when my brain is oxygen-deprived enough that I can no longer think at a million miles an hour.  It’s as if strangling me is the most effective way to slow me down;  hypoxia is quickest way to send me into alpha waves.

Sweating it out as I churn along the beach, I concentrate on my breathing, and I concentrate on my choice.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


There is a school of thought that says the universe is there for the taking, for each of us, wholly ready to provide.  That in essence, our lives are already mapped out, all the major steps already predefined;  like a massive dot to dot of life.

And, let’s say, if this is the case, that there are only about fifteen to twenty dots in total.  The rest of it – all the bits in between – is ours to choose.  We can get as creative as we want with the path.  We can do whatever we want with that line from point to point.

But understand that these points are predestined.

No point sweating them.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


However, there is a caveat to this.  And that is, that we can move the dots.  We can shift them around the page like a set of counters.  So in essence, we can move everything.  We can change everything.  Nothing is set in stone, other than birth and death.  Everything else, everything in between, is fluid.  If we can move the dot that makes the neck look crooked, we can change the complexion of the whole picture.

We can move the dots by changing the nature of our thinking.  Physics dictates that all energy will flow along the path of least resistance.  If the things that are most important to us are along a well-worn path that runs downhill – then the universe can’t help but to let it flow to you.

And me.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


So I choose my family every day.  I choose it every time I run this beach in Fiji.  I choose it every time I run around the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, every cold winter’s day when my breath is steamy and the air hurts on its way down, every time I deprive my brain of enough oxygen that it becomes as ingrained as a pathway in my consciousness.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


I make that choice, I burn that thought, I repeat it.  I stretch the creative tension like wires in my brain, connected by neurotransmitters, by dopamine firing off.  Each and every day, I do the same.

Bang, bang, bang.

As a synapse of belief, and of thought, that is constant and unchanging and there – physically there – a physical thought, that once started as a belief, but through conditioning, through thinking, through visioning that thought and imagining my family on a daily basis, has actually become as a neuronal connection in my white matter, it has become a fixed synapse.

In doing that, it becomes more true than not.

A fixed truth.

How can it not?

* * * * *

Today, as I run along the beach, I repeat my mantra.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


On this day, today, I struggle with this logic, my artistic brain at the tender mercies of my scientific mind.  It sits there in a headlock, a vicious half-Nelson that leaves my weak little pansy artistic mind panting.  Today, it is at the mercy of my brutal, beefed-up, loved-up, greased-up scientific thoughts, obliterating this philosophical waif of consciousness into a million smashed up thoughts.

And yet I continue.  I root for the underdog.  I cheer for the pansy.  I keep thinking about my family.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


As I run, I take in the world around.  I look at the beach, the children in the surf, and then I start to see it differently.  As I head along the coast, I see a plane, a solitary aeroplane, perched at the edge of the landing strip.

A singleton.

But then I notice its twin engines.  They start up, flicking over;  once, twice, and then whirring to life.  As I watch it, I see in the distance a second plane, a second twin-engine plane, coming in low and fast, flying in from out of the glare of the sun.  It is close, less than twenty metres ahead, on this island, the brother to its twin sister, already whirring, already fired up, already ready to take off in flight.

It’s twins.

The plane lands with a jolt, a puff of dusty air spewing up behind it’s wheel, on this strip – uncordoned – that I am to run over to get to the next part of the island.  As I go, the sister slows to a stop, and the brother continues in an arc, following his bigger sister’s path in, disappearing to a dot;  the same size as she was when I first spotted her, back out towards the sun.

As I continue, all I can see is twins.  Another couple, walking towards me.  Hands linked, twins.  Then a family, with two boys the same height, the same sandy hair.  Twins.

My scientific brain threatens to go into overdrive, yet the sweat of the day saps me of cogent thought, and my dream starts to grow.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


I follow the crest of the beach out.  As I go, the story changes.  This time, as I reach the rocky outcrop, the place we sailed the boats from four days ago, I again note the lone palm.

A singleton.

There it sits, all on it’s own, reaching out over the water, threatening to lean down and scoop it up and drink it in.

I turn and look, the light of the day fading.  There in the distance is the sun, shimmering on the deep still water, and on it, right on the brim of the horizon, right on the edge where it threatens to tip off the edge of the world, is a boat, sailing along, like a ridiculously beautiful postcard.

Another singleton.

I turn and head back, picking up speed.  There again I see one half of a couple I’ve seen from earlier in our travels.


And out of the bushes comes her partner, to join her, to grab at his hand and cup him in her arms.


I look back out at the lone sailing boat, the lone sun above it, only to notice, up to its right, balancing, almost laughing at me, subtle in comparison, is the moon – bright and pale in this early evening light.


I pick up my speed, the sun diving lower, the light starting to fade, the sweat coming harder, pooling in my eyes.  I cross the landing strip, my limbs getting heavy, the sand getting softer, the blood failing in its quest to provide oxygen, and in doing so, the clarity of the message, the choice I have made coming ever closer.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


I sprint the last berth, past another singleton, another set of twins, yet another set of twins, then a singleton.  And then in the distance, I can see it, my target, my finish line;  the end of my run.  I pick it up even faster, the sting of the sweat in my eyes, my calves cramping, and I push even further, pull even deeper, and I sprint, hard up the sand, to my finishing post, to my point, hanging there, like a bird perched on the edge of a branch.

I touch it as I arrive, panting, an outstretched hand.  It is Suse.


I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.


Twins.  Singleton.  Who cares?

I choose the end result of a healthy, loving, happy family.

I’ve already got one.  My wife, the second half of my self;  my own twin, my own singleton.

And so I realise:  fuck the symbolism.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is this:

The other day we released the spirits – two spirits – in a ceremony in the ocean, to let them know that we are now ready.

We are ready.


* * * * *

Day 240

By , June 21, 2011 10:00 am

Monday 21st June 2010

Gestation: 38 weeks, 3 days

One year ago.

We sit there, in the back of the speedboat, drinking in the afternoon sun.  As we head out towards the coral reef we wind our way along the waterline, passing the island’s main resort – twenty times the size of the one at which we’re staying.

As the boat picks up speed, we pass a ten-year-old boy.  One arm is waving, the other is pushing straight down into the water, holding something under.  His mother, without even looking, yells something incomprehensible between drags on her cigarette.  With that, his arm goes slack, and a smaller boy comes up gasping, arms flailing like a stabbed octopus.  Again, without looking, we hear the mother shriek:

“Good boy, Jy-dyn.  Good boy.”  I’m don’t know the spelling, or whether the boys were named Jy and Dyn.  I can only guess.

Jy looks pissed.

Dyn just looks waterlogged.

I look back at Suse, a grin across her face, before noticing the couple facing us, shaking their heads, the man mock-wiping at his brow.

“We left our little blighters back in Queensland with their Victorian aunt,” say the smiley man, just portly enough to lend his face an inviting quality.  “They love her, and she loves them.  We paid for her plane ticket.  And she pays us back many, many times over.”  His wife chuckles, never taking her eyes off her feet.  Her eyes are grey, deep bags under each.  She looks like Dyn would if Jy repeated his tricks for twenty-four hours straight.

“Happy to be away?” I ask.  She nods deeply.

“Well, hang on,” says the husband, “don’t get us wrong.  Have you got kids?”

“No, we haven’t,” I say, jumping in quickly.  “And we appreciate this time while we don’t have them yet.”

“Oh, it’s fantastic,” he continues, championing the cause.  “I love my kids.  In fact, having them was the single most amazing and life-changing thing we ever did.  Wasn’t it, Darl?” he asks, without waiting for a reply. “Kids bring a life to you that you just can’t imagine until you have them.  It is absolutely amazing.  No – in fact, I’d say it’s magical.  Absolutely magical.”  He stops for a moment.  “You guys should consider it.  You really should.  Don’t be put off by what we say.”

“Don’t worry, we won’t,” I say.  “We will.  When the time’s right,” I finish, completing the lie.

Suse and I smile, and look out to sea in unison, our body language sealing the conversation dead in its tracks.

Before the virtues of family life can be extolled any more.


* * * * *

Four hours later, we are in the restaurant, looking out over the palm-scattered lawn to the beach beyond.  The tropical breeze brushes against our faces as we sit by the light of the torch, like we’re on the luxury couple’s honeymoon-version of ‘Survivor’.

Through the darkness emerges the smilingly pudgy guy.

“How are you, guys?”

“Great,” I say, resisting the urge to lean over and pinch his cheeks.

“Look.  I’m sorry about what I said to you before,” he says apologetically.  “The second we were on our own, Michelle went through me.  She said: ‘It may have been magical for you, but it wasn’t for me.  For me, it was bloody hard work.  I didn’t sleep right for years.’   So I’m sorry.  When I said they were magical, I really should have said that they are bloody hard work.  That’s what I really meant.  Not magical.  Hard work.  That’s what I should have said.  So sorry about that.”

He stops, looking slightly confused, as if trying to remember a second part to his message;  one that has since flown the coop.  “There was something else,” he mutters.

Suse and I look at each other and smile, acknowledging that thing which Michelle saw that her husband did not.  There’s something in the sisterhood – maybe in the way that Suse and I sat in the boat, maybe our reactions, maybe the whiff of parental pheromones leaking out of our every pore – I don’t know.  But there was something that caused her to see.  To see the elephant in the room.  To understand where we are in our plight.  And as the brains behind the mouth, to demand a public broadcast of the not-so-pleasant side of the equation.  If even just to take the sting out of the barb, just a little.

The man continues to stand for a moment, squirming in his undies, his palms finally rising up in contrition.

“Nope.  It’s gone,” he says, almost to himself.

“That’s okay,” Suse says, “we’re under no delusions.  And like we said, when the time comes, we’ll be in for as much of a shock as anyone is, I guess.”

“Yeah,” he says, benignly.  “Anyway, I just didn’t want to… you know… My big mouth, and all that.  I just wanted you to… you know.”

“Thanks, mate,” I say.

He turns, a slight furrow on his brow, and walks away.  He falters on his fourth step, like he’s about to turn and add something, before deciding better.  As he disappears into the blackness of the night, he scratches as the back of his rich brown hair, formulating his story, ready to pitch to his wife, about just how little he’d managed to fluff his meaningful, yet unnecessary apology.


* * * * *

Day 237

By , June 17, 2011 10:00 am

Friday 18th June 2010

Gestation: 38 weeks

One year ago.

“You’ve got the tickets?”

“Of course I have, love.  Did you get the power in every room?” she asks.  The question comes out in a frosty plume, like a cartoon balloon.  Suse rubs her hands, standing by the car in the dull morning light.  “Then do it quickly!”

I jog back into the house one more time.  I check the laundry door, one last time.  The house is warm against my cheeks, as I stooping to flick off power points room by room.  I head into the study and crawl under the desk.  Flick.  Flick.  Flick.  Flick.  I walk into the bedroom.

As I do, I notice that the candle is out.


* * * * *

For two nights, its pink glow has left me sleeping sporadically at best.  Despite a face mask, I’ve woken every hour or so, looking across at my wife, slumbering deeply to candlelight, like she was in a Bronte novel.

I always thought she’d be better suited to a Bronte novel than me.

Of all the candles to buy for a ritual, Suse chose the longest lasting, highest quality, most incandescent rose candle she could find.

The fucking thing just kept burning.  It was like the Energiser of candles.

Last night, I turned to her.

“Couldn’t it just burn out like the cheap things we got the first time around?”

“Move it into the other room if it’s bothering you,” she’d said.

“Can you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Can you move a candle after you’ve made an intention?  After you’ve made passionate, baby-making love?  And after I said that the candle was for us to receive our kid, only once it had burnt out?”

“Well, on that logic, you need to have supersperm, buddy, because this thing has been burning for twenty-four hours now, and looks like it’ll go another twenty-four.  So are your boys going to hang around for two days before fertilising my eggs?”

We both looked at it, burning away.

“Okay, I’ll move it,” I said.

“I don’t know that you should,” she said sheepishly, “now that you’ve said that.”

We stared at it again.

“I won’t then.  I don’t want to affect it.”

“I never knew you were so superstitious, Dr. Nethercote.”

“I didn’t know that I was either.  That is, until we lost a baby on the day we moved into this house, you’ve had no end of back luck since then, and then a woman popped up out of nowhere to tell us that the reason we’d lost our child was because we hadn’t yet cleansed our house.  Oh, that, and that I’m a sensitive.”

“You are very sensitive, aren’t you?” she said, patting my face jokingly.

* * * * *

We’d decided to leave it here.  To let it burn to the quick.  This, despite the fact that this morning we are heading overseas for nine days.  We’d resolved to leave a burning object in our untended house.  Shit, we hadn’t even resolved it.   It had gone unspoken.  As if we wouldn’t?  My Dad would have apoplexy at the thought.  And yet, there was no other choice.

This is the level to which my superstition has risen.

But now, as I stand here, on my last check of the house, the candle has gone out.

I flick off the bedroom power points and head back out.  I lock the door, turning to Suse.  Her face is white, frozen in Melbourne’s winter morning.

“Did you blow out the candle?” I ask.

“No.  Is it out?”

“Yeah.  It was still going five minutes ago.  Are you sure you didn’t blow it out?”

Suse looks at me and rolls her eyes.  “No, Mark.  I’m here to fuck with your mind,” she says sarcastically.  “Of course I didn’t.  It must have gone out just now.”

“After burning for thirty-six hours, it goes out the minute we leave for Fiji.”

“The exact minute.”

I frown and jump into the car, reversing back, feeling the hairs stand on end.


* * * * *

We skim across the water, a dazzling sky above.  All around us it is dark, a blank canvas against which to see the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.

“Do you know how to tell which way is south?”  Suse shakes her head.  I point over her shoulder up at the sky above.  As I do, I cuddle into her, continuing my explanation.  She leans into me, her head resting on my shoulder, her face pressing up against mine, and she whispers into my ear.

“I don’t really care, honey.  You can always be in charge of directions.”  She kisses my cheek softly, before letting out a little mew, snuggling further into my crook.


* * * * *

We pull into dock, jump off the boat, and watch as our bags are transferred onto the golf buggy.

“Will they still have food available when we arrive?” I ask.

“I think they will, sir,” says the driver.

I look across at Suse.  The two flights, the boat ride, and five transfers are beginning to wear tiredly on her face.

As we pull into our resort, I see a group of people waiting.  The drivers flicks his lights switch.  Off, then on;  off, then on.  And with that, as we wind around in a circle towards the front entrance, the singing begins.

“Oh, my God,” says Suse with delight.

As we come around the corner, the palm trees clear.  And then we see a troupe of Fijians wearing traditional garb, there to welcome us.  One is playing guitar, one the ukelele, and all ten of them harmonise in a beautiful Fijian welcome song.

“Is this for us?” I ask, stupidly.

“Oh, my God!” Suse repeats.

We bundle out of the buggie, like instant celebrities in a wonderland.

“Bula!” one says.

“Bula!” says the next.

We shakes hands, all ten of them, there for us at 10.30pm at night.  A group of singers have welcomed us, all there to say hello, honouring us like family.  I see Suse hugging one.  It’s as if we’ve returned after a long trip away.

“That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen,” she says excitedly.

And here we are together.

It’s like we’ve come home.


* * * * *

Day 220

By , May 30, 2011 10:00 am

Tuesday 1st June 2010

Gestation: 35 weeks, 4 days

One year ago.

“I bought a spell,” says Suse, a wry smile on her face.

“Right,” I say.  It’s a safe answer when you don’t know quite how you’re supposed to react.   It says: ‘I heard what you said, and I have no judgements.’  Or that’s how it’s meant to sound.

I find myself saying ‘right’ quite a bit these days.

“It’s a ritual for fertility.  It’s meant to be done during a full moon.”


“We’ll be in Fiji when it’s the next full moon.”


“So we can take it with us.”

She looks at me, and I realise I’m frowning.

“Great.  That’s great, love.”  I pause.  “But… do you know what’s in it?  It’s not going to get us arrested, is it?”

“No.  It’s just got some herbs and things.”

“Exactly.  That’s exactly what I mean.  We’re taking a box labelled ‘Ritual for Fertility’ into another country?”

“We’ll be fine.”  Suse pauses for a second.  “Do you think I’m weird?”

“No more than I did before, love.”

“No, for getting the spell.  Do you think I’m weird?”

“Honey, after what happened with that soothsayer on the weekend, I don’t think anything is weird anymore.  I’m willing to try anything.”

“You’re happy to try a spell?”

“Sure,” I say with a little hesitation.

“You’re happy to take it to Fiji?”

“No, not particularly.  But that woman did tell us that this holiday was going to be a very healing time for us.  I think we need some healing.”  I sigh.  “So why not?”


* * * * *

What does it say about our situation, when a spell now seems as likely to work as the saliva and basal body temperatures that we performed religiously just two months back?   As humans, are we just in need of ritual?

Is science now our ritual?

We all require some sort of order, something to believe in, something to hang our hats on.  Science hasn’t worked for us thus far.

So, as a good scientist that I am, I’m willing to experiment.

I look at the box, a small cardboard coffin.  It has an A4 piece of paper around the outside, with the heading, ‘Spellbox’.  I won’t read the instructions, lest to mention that it has horsetail herb, stallion hair, a bell, a green and orange candle, some oil, and a sewing needle.  And an incantation.

I’m curious to open it, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to yet.  I’m not sure what the rules are.  After all, the moon isn’t full, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a thunderstorm anytime soon.

And the golden hair band around it looks pretty darn symbolic.

I’ll leave it be.

For now, I’ll leave it be.


* * * * *

Day 219

By , May 27, 2011 10:00 am

Monday 31st May 2010

Gestation: 35 weeks, 3 days

One year ago.

“So you’ve decided to go on holiday?”


“Great.  When?”

“Three weeks.  Well, not quite.  Two-and-a-half, really.”

The travel agent goes silent.  “Really,” she manages finally.  “In the middle of the school holidays?”  Her voice breaks slightly.

“Yep.  We’ve been waiting to hear about my wife’s jury duty for a while.  To see whether she would get it off.”

“You get it off for shitting in your pants, don’t you?  Wouldn’t have thought you’d need much of an excuse to get out of it.”

“My wife has a social conscience.”

“Okay,” says the travel agent, “one of those.”  I choose not to start a fight with the woman who may get us overseas.  “So what you looking for?”



“Island resort.”

“With just your wife.  No kids?”

“No kids.  Yet, that is.”

Jesus.  I’m like a broken record.

“You want romance for just you two?”


“And you don’t care where exactly?”

“Just somewhere relaxing.”

“Then you need a kid-free zone.  A resort that only allows sixteens and over.  Email through your budget, and I’ll see what the hell I can organise with two-and-a-half weeks notice, right in the middle of children’s holidays.”  I hear a baby cry in the background.  “Don’t worry, I’m good.  I’ll sort you out,” she yells over the noise.

“That’s what we’ve been told.  Joel put us onto you.”

“Ah, Joel,” she says, her voice swimming slightly.

“Yes, Joel.”  I let it sit for a second.  “So, I want you to think of Joel in his speedos, on holiday, and wherever that scene is, is where we want to be.”

The woman laughs so hard that the phone goes dead.

I’m not sure if she meant it, or if she dropped the phone by accident, or if this mother went limp at the thought of Joel.


* * * * *

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