Airplane Thoughts: Family Reunion


Planned a few months before. Bags filled with well-wishes and the souvenirs of all the things that are needed for the big reunion of the siblings. It hasn’t been years since our last reunion. The latest was during my brothers wedding, some 7 years ago. My peeps have really, definitely changed, hairs gone a lighter shade and faces grown weary, but the spirit remains. It was totally a perfect reason to come to Australia and see everyone. There has been truly a remarkable gathering. Different stories, different angles. A lot of stories untold. A lot of experiences to be shared.

Airport Arrival Scene

Arriving at the airport a couple of hours later than expected. Eager to see everyone, wondering if they have already landed, gone through the immigration, collected the bags. The only line of communication was through the Internet, no one using SMSs or doing any voice call.

When I finally saw my brother coming to my direction, it was momentous. His face was familiar, but his stature not much. It must have been from being used to seeing taller and bigger people in Canada, or just remembering him as heavier. My nephew stood towering behind him, a grown young man.

Hugged and looked at each other. It has been years since I’ve seen them. Familiar smiles, familiar gaits, but not their stories, not their terms–they used so many Filipino slangs I barely understood. Nothing seemed fluid. It was discordant, with me haplessly searching for clues on what they just said.

The Reveal

We stood there for some good minutes before figuring out where we were and who we’re waiting for. Soon enough, we found ourselves being reunited again with our sisters who came out of the van hire. Everyone talked at the same time, too excited to even ask if we already had our “bio-break”, which we fondly call “Kali Moments”. Everyone eager and keen to share how its been and how’s life for them. It hasn’t been until we were all settled in the van (Aussies call it a bus) when I finally realized that we are together; and the conversation flowed easily and smoother. Panic-chat has gone and everyone is allowed to breathe a little slower again.

Excitement vs Jet Lag

The high energy in the van made me less drowsy than I expected. It was very unlikely, after literally skipping sleep on the plane. This was the breakdown:

  • 7:30-8:15 prep for work
  • 8:30-5:30pm work
  • 6pm-8pm final prep for the trip
  • 8pm-1:30am at the airport because trip was delayed
  • 15 hours airborne (16 hours gate-to-gate)

I’ve been up for at least 30 hours!

Flying Woes

The in-flight movie selections on Air Canada wasn’t too great this time. None were currently on the theatres–a stark difference from 2 or 3 years ago when the playlists were really good. Ah! Gone are the times. They have rather kept the ticket prices almost unchanged for at least 5 years, sans “luxury” and services dwindling away.

For one, long-haul flights cannot be on the cheap. After being on the plane for at the first two hours, you’d certainly feel the smaller seats; the tight squeeze when you enter your seat. Or the awkward “excuse me, coming through” requests through the aisle. I used to like window seats, but frequent bio-break and required leg movement from my arthritis ailment made me want to sit on the aisle on plane rides. And so I got it for this leg of the flight. However, in recent years, I noticed being shrugged off from aisle passers. I don’t think my shoulders grew a few inches broader, or that people have grown wider. I checked the aisle again: barely 3 hand spans.

“Ouchy Gouty”

I quietly curled in my seat with my hamstring pressing down on the tiny pillows–in an attempt to distribute my weight and off my bum. It aches–I must admit–even to a well-seasoned traveler like me, or I have just gone skinny on the rump. Long flights can be scary for gout sufferers like me.

Limited leg movement, dehydration and poor food choices could easily send me to a very painful arthritis ordeal. The last time I had a major attack was my Amsterdam-Vancouver trip 3 years ago, where I sipped on two or three cups of OJ’s to appease my grumbling sitting situation. Being tucked in the window seat didn’t help me get the much-needed leg movement. In no time, the attack was there as soon as we landed in Vancouver.

There will be no crazy meals and no food experimentation this year. It was all simple, my typical diet which is a mix of meat and more veggies to fill me up. It’s not easy to eat with meat lovers. The temptation is just way too strong. For me, I’d rather join them and be merry. No point reminding them how “sick” i am. I’m there to enjoy it too!

Perhaps, I should cook my own meals and bring my own casserole. Pretty much a single-serving cooking style. All veggies go in and all meat stay away and put to one side. There will be a range of recipes that I can prepare. Surely, I’d last a week easily without consuming too much purine or flush my system with water and dairy products.

There had been more than 3 mild attacks, which I tempered down by my medicine. After a long walk, my right foot just aches. A dull numbing pain that I can’t quickly shake off even when I had a good diet before hand. This could purely be to old age, after all, I turned 39 last week. But still not acceding to the fact that I’m getting weaker and less excited about things. Sometimes, I would settle with just a warm cup of hot chocolate on my hand while i watch the events go by in front of me. Not the type where I’d simply run off to the nearest festival and just snap photos of strangers. Nothing in mind, but just an exercise of my photography skills. It may take a while before i can truly practice and master the instinct for composing a good photo. Sometimes it is always about how i feel of the photo before i can say this is a good composition. Sometimes, it’s the attraction to the light or sometimes just the fleeting moment in front of me. There could be more to what I’m doing but I just have the urge to just snap certain photos sometimes. What I have in mind might not be captured by te photo, so that’s where I would write about it instead.

Eyeing for Beauty

If all goes well, and photos turn out at least 10% of good material, then I feel fulfilled. But having a digital format camera spoils me limitless. I’m still struggling to get it right the first time, but with practice, I shall face Ansel Adams and with pride I’ll tell him “I did it!”

(Photo Journals coming soon)

Author: Mind Crib

A computer analyst working in rainy downtown Vancouver who sees infinite joy and wisdom in surroundings, looming dark clouds or without.

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