The final week has been a continuing whirlwind of activity. My lists seemed never to get any shorter, despite all the exhausting activity, and my assignment in particular seemed not to move one iota.
However, there was one important event: my farewell with my team, who had put so much effort into it. We had lunch at my favourite restaurant, the Spice Temple, and I got my nifty iPhone and a Neil Perry Balance & Harmony cookbook, autographed by the legend himself. A couple of the team were desperately trying to get Mr Perry to turn up at the lunch, and had him all lined up until earlier in the week when he had to pull out as he was off to Japan. DAMMMITTT! Probably for the best, as I might not have been able to resist embarrassing myself by gushing all over him (I once did this with Rod McGeogh after he’d won the Sydney Olympics, and reportedly stood there, shaking his hands, saying “I adore you”.) We left at around 5.30pm, and I headed home: no point in going back for one last look. I was free, free, free. At last.
I decided to set up the iPhone that was my gift when I left INGA, and loaded all sorts of useless and useful applications onto it, having bought a big data plan from Telstra (which I’ll cancel or downgrade once I am finished).
Apart from that, it was simple things like typing up what I knew of my itinerary, copying my passport and insurance policies, notes about my house for my brother and his fiancée, buying plastic sleeves to put my paperwork in so it didn’t get smooshed, getting a massage, and doing final lists for the last minute before I whisked out the door. Of course, there were the final walks with my dogs. Whenever I walked them last year, I would dream of time off. I tried to be in the moment with them, enjoying their crazy zig-zagging and sniffing and weeing on trees, remembering them enough to last me five months. The frenzy before I go means I haven’t properly enjoyed them – I am just there with them, but too often rushing past. Leaving them is the one thing that makes this trip hard; everyone else I can talk to over the phone, or email. With my boys, Max and Tyler, it’s a matter of memory. It’s hard, though, when I arrive home after a long trip, they almost seem foreign. Stepping over them, feeding them, has to be remembered again. I will miss them. Here they are, the little cutie pies (photo credit to Animax, the professional animal photo outfit):
The day before I am to leave, I receive an exciting call: a polite Qantas First Class dude! (I am travelling on points and, sadly, this class was the only option available). They would like to know if I want to visit the spa for a facial or massage – ohhhh, most definitely yessss. Booking in for a 50 minute facial, I also jotted down the number to call when I’m 10 mins away and gave them my passport number so they could pre-check me in.
My brother, Jason, and his fiancée, who have asked to stay in the house while I’m away turn up at 8pm to get the lowdown on how to work the place.
Eventually, I go to bed. Almost everything but the assignment is done, and even that I’ve made inroads with. I will leave the last of the assignment, and setting up my blog, to Santorini. There I will have nothing but time.