Australia, Day One: Weds 1/13
Richard and I had been planning this trip for years, it was incredible to think it was finally happening. Our primary impulse was to visit our friends Paul and Annie - - Paul Stoller is one of my best friends from college, we've been friends for somewhere around 25 years. I visited him in New Haven when he was in grad school at Yale, I visited him in London when he lived there for a couple years - - we had quite a few years of overlap in New York, he lived in Sunnyside, Queens and we saw a fair amount of each other. He met Annie on a visit to Sydney on New Year's Eve 2007 going into 2008 and they pretty much instantly fell in love. How could you not? She's brilliant, gorgeous, hilarious, a straight shooter, kind, extraordinary. I could go on and on, she's everything you could want in a wife or a friend. I adore her. They got married and now have had two sons: Anders is five and a half, Sebastian is three. They moved to Sydney about two years ago and we put a visit to them at the top of our list.
Our flight didn't leave Newark until 5:40 PM, but Richard and I took the day off work, which felt so freaking civilized. We had a nice leisurely breakfast, watched the Today show, watched Kathie Lee and Hoda, took our time packing, had a lovely lazy morning at home. I sent out a note to my list of friends about our trip and also giving a plug for my blog, and got many, many well wishes, which was sweet. We took a Carmel car to the airport, and it was maybe our greatest experience yet with Carmel: our driver was on time, he knew where he was going, he was nice looking, and he spoke English! I would be pleased with two out of four of those things, so all four was an embarrassment of riches.
Our trip through security was more dehumanizing than it needed to be. Nothing outlandish, but really not courteous or pleasant at all. We got to our gate and Richard felt like a cocktail. We went to a little Mexican place, he got a double vodka, I got a Diet Coke, and we split a burrito bowl with pork. Richard said he was concerned about the frequency with which I'm drinking diet cola - - I have one or two a day, which doesn't sound excessive to me. He said it's very high in sodium, but that doesn't make any sense. Diet cola isn't salty at all, why would it be high in sodium?
Here's our flight schedule: we left Newark at 5:40 PM on Wednesday 1/13. We landed in Vancouver at around 9 PM local time, after about six hours in the air. We both assumed they would feed us dinner on the flight, and I guess they did, but we had to PAY for it - - $8 for a smallish sandwich. Come on! Richard thought our plane was about 150 years old. Direct from Kitty Hawk. We were in the last row (the only place where we could have two seats together, one on the aisle), and the overhead lights didn't work, and the audio was spotty. We watched *The Intern*. Richard had wanted to see it in the theater and we never got around to it. It was very cute, not as good as it could have been. De Niro was adorable. I guess if you like him you would like this movie.
I also spent some time reading a new book, *Can You Ever Forgive Me?* by Lee Israel. She was a celebrity writer from the 60s and 70s, someone described her as "People magazine before there was People magazine". I read her biography of Tallulah Bankhead about 20 years ago. I read an article about her in the NY Times magazine's Look Who Died issue a few weeks ago and was ravenous to read this book. Here's the story: she hit a rough patch in the 70s, her work as a journalist was drying up, she was drinking more than she should. So she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and started a new business forging letters from famous people. She wrote over 400 of them, made herself and the dealers who bought the letters very rich, made the people who bought the letters very happy. She was caught, pleaded guilty, and served six months house arrest and five years probation. The ironic thing is she feels she was a better writer as Noel Coward, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, or whoever than she ever was as herself.
BTW I'm half joking about that diet cola/sodium comment earlier.
We landed in Vancouver and had a 15-minute walk to customs. A handsome, chatty young customs agent handed us over to a cute young guy who looked about 17 who handed us over to a lovely young woman who took us up in elevator and pointed us to our gate. Thank you, Vancouver airport, for your customer service! Please go to Newark and teach them a thing or two.
We had a couple of hours to waste at our gate. Of course we amused ourselves people watching. A young couple had a baby boy, the father had him in a carrier over his chest, the baby was probably somewhere around three months old. He was being a little crabby to they took a large shmatte and draped it around the father's arms and back, totally covering the baby. I guess they thought he'd think it was nighttime and would fall asleep.
ME: Look what they're doing! They're pulling the old parakeet trick on that baby.
RICHARD: He's not falling for it. "Hey people, you think I was born yesterday?"
ME: "Gimme some credit here, I was born three months ago!"
This is what it's like traveling with my husband. What a scream.