Monday, April 11, 2005

No Practice Swing

We’re starting to get our travel plans in order.

The entire plan was to work for four months and then travel for two.
Two months seems like such a long time…until you start to plan a trip.

Suddenly it’s not long enough.

Thursday night Jeff, Nick and I sat down with a bunch of different brochures at our favourite Thai restaurant to try and pound out some of the details. It’s hard enough coordinating travel based on two people’s preferences…try three!

However hard it may be, we’re all determined to take at least one trip together during our travels, so we started looking at our options…

After dinner we ended up at PBH (Pyrmont Bridge Hotel) for a few rounds of odds and evens and wouldn’t you know it, we didn’t end up getting too much accomplished that night except for choosing the type of tour we might want to take through Australia (It’s called the Whipper Snapper, more details later).

Friday night, after pouring over the brochures again, we decided we had the perfect travel plans…all the things that we wanted to see and do were incorporated and the dates of departure on all the trips worked out perfectly (not an easy task).

This entire plan hinged on the fact that we could leave Sydney earlier than we had planned (May 26th).

We made a quick call to Jeff Grand back at home because we wanted to know what his travel plans were before we started booking anything (he’s coming to visit us!).

Saturday morning I get an email that says Jeff Grand is due into Sydney May 15th and due out May 29th.

Back to the drawing board.

But the more I look through the brochures, the more frustrated I get. Suddenly there isn’t time to do anything, none of the dates are working and that damn koala on the cover seems to be laughing at me!


Where’s the frustration really coming from, because normally brochures don’t make me cry (Almost everything else does at times, but brochures…come on!).

I feel helpless over here.

I wish I could be with her and hold her hand
I want to laugh at how feisty she is, even in a hospital
I want to be able to tell someone with certainty that she’s “looking a lot better, a lot stronger”
I wish that I could say I’ve made my peace with whatever happens while I’m over here and not be lying
I want to show her my pictures when I get back and regale her with crazy stories – like the ones I grew up listening to

I want to tell her again and again how amazing my trip has been, how much I’ve learned about myself and the human condition and how it never would have happened if it wasn’t for her…my first story-teller…my glimpse into the world unknown…my number one supporter since the first mention of my journey…my adventurous Grandmother.

I know better than to count her out.
She is strong.

But the news of her hospital visits and weakened state have forced my mind to go to places that are more real than I’d like

Leaving on a trip like this, you tell yourself that nothing will happen and everything will stay the same or even get better by the time you return…

that’s how you get on the plane,

that’s how you get through the first few weeks,

and that’s the thought you carry with you each and every day you cannot see those that mean the most to you

If she could decide, where would she want me to be right now?

Pick up the brochures and begin again

Our tentative travel plans:

End of May, probably May 30/31st we fly out of Sydney to Bangkok, Thailand

We do a 15 day tour of Northern Thailand – it sounds amazing…visiting temples, biking through small towns, riding trains, rickshaws, riverboats, visiting war memorials, staying overnight in local villages, learning Thai cooking, RIDING ELEPHANTS !!!

We fly from Bangkok to Darwin, a northern city of Australia…where we meet up with Nick. We see the sights Darwin has to offer (perhaps skydive there) then hop on the bus tour.

We make our way into the Outback…make sure to see Uluru, maybe even take a camel ride and have breakfast in the desert at sunrise

The tour then takes us to the East Coast where we can stop in Cairns to do some scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, maybe some bungee jumping, you never know

We work our way down the east coast jumping on and off the bus to see whatever we want (including a 3-4 day sailing trip which I’m pumped for)

Work our way all the way down to Melbourne

From there it’s either Tasmania or New Zealand…both of which are going to be mighty cold…so perhaps some night skiing in New Zealand or something…we can figure that out later

Then fly back to Sydney, giving us 2-3 solid days to say goodbye to the beautiful city and do it up right before flying back to Chicago, August 1st

We’re going to see most everything we want, and Nick’s going to join us for the majority of the trip through the Outback and down the coast…it works out perfectly

I’ll tell you all about it when I get home.


At 6:14 AM, Blogger Amy Boyd said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Amy Boyd said...

What a trip! Sounds amazing I can't wait to hear all about it and see your pictures when you return.
Your grandma is so proud of you. I remember visiting her a few days after you left. She was raving about her Mary and how proud she was of you! "World traveler, just like me".. she said. Rob & I visited her last week, she is weak but still very sharp and laughing. She told us not to worry about her and reminded us what the psychic told her years ago... she going to live to 92.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger KrissySullivan said...

I'm not going to pretend to know how difficult it is to be away right now. But know that she loves you and would want you to stay right where you are. She's out of the hospital and getting stronger.
Ilove you-

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Sorry about messing up your travel plans. If only I could have picked up the phone when you called!! It sounds like you three figured it out though. What a schedule; sounds incredible, you lucky lucky girl.

I was just thinking about your grandma last week; I haven't seen her in a really long time and assumed that no news was good news. Sounds like she's doing better and after all, she heard it from the psychic, which I think had told her things that have come true before. No worries, Mate.

Going to the Cubs game today; but that's nothing to being in Australia right now. Talk to you soon. Jeff (Grand)

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Your DADA said...

Your Grandmother is back in the Medical center at the BH - She arrived Sunday morning at noon - Very tired - but happy to be out of Hospital - Today at 3:00 I went to see my weak little Mom - She is feeling a lot better

When am I getting back to my room

These people do not get me what I want soon enough

I can walk fine

The doctor wants her to eat good meals and get adjusted to the new heart med's - They thinl that her tiredness was all the Med's zapping her strength

Yes she is frail - but she had that spark in her eye today - When she looks at me and gives me orders

That is a great sign to me - I as you Mary are at that point - Do I get on the plane - I know that she wants me to go visit HER MARY -

all my Love DADA

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Praying4You said...

It's just an amazing thing,but Grandma is like no other and always has been like no other. It gives her such incredible joy to know that you are out there traveling and exploring the world. I truly believe she is happier knowing you are there, doing what she loves, than she would be with you here holding her hand. She truly does not need anyone to hold her hand. Everytime I hold her hand, I know (and she knows) that I am doing it for me.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger KickinKangaroo said...

Hi maymay. Your plans will end up fabulous as long as you dont follow the plans! Always the case. So exciting to hear Grand is on his way! I am very envious.I think about you everyday.I miss you so much!

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Jay said...

Hey Mary Kay,
I missed your IM last nite - i think it was about 1am here. i no longer have AIM on my computer, i have it on my phone. i heard my phone beeping, but was too tired to go see who it was - i am mad i didn't check it!!
You miss me like you miss deep dish pizza... that's sweet. Deep dish pizza is pretty good - can you get good pizza in Australia? When i was in NYC, i had some New York style pizza - and i definitely don't see what anyone likes about it. Chicago takes the cake (or the pie, as it were).
We are planning the next cousin dinner and i am sad that you won't be there. Although, i am sure you will be the talk of the party, as you have been at nearly every gathering since you left. We all chat about your blog and all the neat stuff you are doing.
By the way - i borrowed a dress from your closet! i figured you weren't using it and i needed a dress for a wedding. It's at the dry cleaners right now, i promise to put it back as soon as it pick it up!!
Love you, Love, Jay

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love this trip of yours. What fun it has been for all of us. the surfing looked awesome! the trip sounds great. Don't pine away the time thinking of boring old home. We are all fine and I talked to your mom yesterday and she said your grandma is SO much better. So keep smiling! enjoy it before it's over Soon you'll be home wishing you were back there.

I love you!
Aunt Meem!

At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Nick said...

My Australian Affection, Affinity

My Dearest Mary,

I hadn't a clue that I would need a box of Kleenex handy to read your latest blog and its respective comments. Walking with you the past few weeks vis-a-vis a glimpse into that head of ever-turning wheels provides me with a stark illustration of the pictures in your heart.

M-W dot com defines 'affinity' as 1. sympathy marked by community of interest, or 2. likeness based on relationship or causal connection.

Whether it be mere coincidence or rather a strategic alignment of planetary patterns resulting in an esoteric surge of affection, our lives-yours, Jeff's and mine- have become fortuitously and inexplicably intertwined. There is no better way to characterize our incipient friendship than to recognize our affinity for one another.

Your beautiful outpouring of raw emotion draws me continually closer to your situation and allows me to both understand you (and the people in your life) a bit better as well as empathize with you more.

You and Jeff are my community of interest here in Australia and what is of grave importance to you is also important to me. I too was initially dealt a bad hand to come to Australia with. Fortunately, my game came to a close before I had to make any decisions. I respect and admire the decisions you have had to make thus far and further echo the people that love you most.

At this point in your life, while it may seem selfish to you, you have made the best choices possible and receive full support from those who matter the most.

While you have unrelenting support from your family and friends at home, know that here too, along with your wonderful boyfriend, I offer you unyielding support and love to help you realize that where you are at this very moment is exactly where you are supposed to be.

Now let's get ready to paint this country Red...raising a glass to Grandma in every last big city and outback town! Look out Grandma, Mary's coming home with enough pictures and stories to keep you awake (or perhaps help you fall asleep!) for days.

Love Always,


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