27. Point blank


Tonight I can feel the cold wind at my back
I’m flyin’ high over gray fields my feathers long and black
Down along the river’s silent edge I soar
Searching for my beautiful reward

Springsteen, My Beautiful Reward


Saying goodbye, with no clear certainty as to when you will see each other again, is not a thing you ever get used to. It tears at the heart and numbs the mind. Each time I have walked away from her it has felt a little worse than the last and, by that fall’s farewell, it had become a crushing weight pressing down upon us both.

Only for this woman would I ever endure such emotional distress, but because it was her, I knew I would endure it, for as long as was necessary.

This third departure was made that little bit more miserable by the fact that I had managed to catch a pretty bad head cold. I’d walked around South Street the previous day feeling increasingly shitty (something I opted to leave out of my previous post) and now it felt like my head was being squeezed in a vice; not a good state for flying.

We said our broken goodbyes and that soul-deadening moment descended once again as I turned from her and the kids and we each walked into our separate worlds. Soon I was caught up in all the usual ‘security’ nonsense which, for just a little while, served as an annoying distraction from my sorrows.

The first takeoff really didn’t seem too bad, despite my stuffed up head. Being in the air wasn’t too bad either, except for my having a little trouble hearing properly. Then we started our descent into Atlanta. It felt disturbingly like someone was trying to shove chopsticks into my brain through my ears. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt pain like that; sheer agony.


And I had another three landings ahead of me.

The one in LA was just as bad, Brisbane too, but the worst by far was Melbourne. That descent seemed to take forever. It was a long slow glide with several course corrections and every second felt like my ears were going to bleed.

I swear at one point, when we were only a couple of hundred feet in the air, the plane seemed to have slowed so much that we were just hanging stationary above the ground. I guess it was an optical illusion, but it seemed bizarrely real as I looked down through my window at a farmhouse that seemed disinclined to move out of view in the expected manner.


By the time I was back on the ground, my nerves (and brain) were shot. I collapsed into a taxi and actually to this day, can’t remember anything about the drive home.

Despite all this, the first thing I did was power up my computer and Skype with Jersey girl. She knew I was OK as I’d texted her upon touchdown in Melbourne as usual, but we always need to connect as soon as I’m back.

That first call is always tough. It’s so good to see the face of the one you love, but the knowledge that you cannot just reach out and touch that face is heartbreaking.

Neither of us knew when the next trip was to be and so there were a few tears and sobs punctuating the conversation. I knew that it would be like this until we got a little more space between us and those four weeks.

I also knew that I was due for a good month of deep depression. As usual, I was not to be  disappointed on that score.

Images used in this post are my own.



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