(Apologies to Marina Abramovic)
“Trans Tasman”- my oil painting of 1989, is a scene from Wellington airport (New Zealand). I don’t think they fly planes like these any more!
I have always loved watching planes taking off and landing. When our children were little, we used to take them to the perimeter of Sydney airport to watch the planes and identify them. This was a Sunday afternoon adventure. Little wonder that when they grew up, they all became travellers.
Do you remember ‘Fraggle Rock’, a children’s programme created by Jim Henson? One of its characters was “Uncle Travelling Matt”. Since learning of that intrepid traveller in the 1980s, it has been an in-house joke to refer to my husband, Matthew, as Uncle Travelling Matt. In recent years he has fitted this title more than ever as he travels ridiculously often for work.
Now and then I accompany him.
But boy, did he have to apply pressure to move me at first!
I was afraid of the big OS (overseas). I was especially terrified of going to Japan for the first time. This was in 2003. It was the first business trip where I was expected to accompany Matt and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. What was I scared of?
What wasn’t I scared of?
The trip was to include corporate dinners. I did not want to make a fool of myself. I couldn’t use chopsticks (so I might look stupid and drop food). I didn’t understand complex Japanese manners; surely I would offend somebody. It is hard for me to remember all the walls I had up against going on this trip but I was adamant that I DID NOT want to go. (SARS was happening right then too, just to make matters worse.)
Because I was so tense, I had no rest on the plane. I was a tight little ball of anxiety when I arrived, intent on having a bad time. However my tired eyes could not help but lift themselves to take in their new surroundings. They wanted to remain angry and shut but the wonder of it all was too much. My eyes and I surrendered! My emotional dial swung 180 degrees from no interest in Japanese culture to interest-in-nothing-else which lasted exclusively for several years.
Nowadays I have regained interest in other subjects and countries however Japan sits securely in my heart. It is quite safe from being usurped.
Matthew says I would have stayed in Karori if he hadn’t dragged me away to Australia. (Karori is the suburb of Wellington where I grew up.) That is another in-house joke.
A more recent bit of ribbing from Matt is that I only want to travel to places that I have been to before. OK, there is a bit of truth in that. Matt is the pusher of my boundaries. On our upcoming trip (in a few days time) he is stretching my horizons to encompass St Petersburg, Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Helsinki (Finland). That is after I get to spend a few days in one of my favourite places first; Kyoto. Then we will bookend the trip with my other favourite place; Paris.
Matthew’s Japanese business partners have a term for the pressure they apply to one another for ever-improving their performance. It is ‘pleasant pressure’. Now we say this inside our family. One of Matt’s tasks over our long years of marriage has been to apply pleasant pressure to force me across self-imposed boundary lines. In reply I always resist like mad.
Naturally he wins every match.
…because I let him!
Today I am writing to say au revoir for a month. We will leave on Sunday, returning in late April. As I don’t go on line when I’m overseas, I won’t be adding posts to my blog or moderating it. So if you are writing a comment for the first time after Sunday it won’t be ‘approved’ (ie it won’t show up on the page) until I arrive home again. (If you have written before, your reply will automatically show up on the page or post.)
To any scoundrels who chance upon this (not you, dear and honorable reader) the house will be fully occupied while I’m away!
I hope to come home with a memory chip in my camera full of artistic inspiration along with many new stories to share.
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