When the kids announced they were moving to New Zealand for a year everyone said "Ooh we'll come visit!" I figured that would be about as likely as the million people telling us the same thing when we lived last year in the UK. The only transatlantic visitors hearty enough to join us were Tom's sister and his 88 year old mother. I told the kids not to bother renting a place with an extra bedroom. So they didn't.
Which is why I am scratching my head looking at this e-ticket that clearly indicates that a: it is my passport to Auckland next month and b: I have done it again.
I am bizarrely looking forward to 24 hours in the air (think how many books you can read in a day when it's impossible to sleep, there's nowhere to walk, the phone and internet are off and someone brings you food on a regular basis) and a week on the ground so that I can do it all over again, but am startled at its actuality. The kids and I had talked about our visiting them but not in precise terms and delightful as they are we rather thought we'd wait until at least one more of them was out of diapers.
Tom and I talked--could we bear to exchange our summer's plans for backpacking in the Highlands for winter in New Zealand? Could we bear not to? We agreed to forego a week at the Cape, the Scottish sojourn and all that summer New England offers for three weeks in July to see the littles who Tom seriously worries will not be allowed to return home once the New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks get a look at baby Lewis' solid thighs and prodigal walking. Replete with well earned air miles we figured a trip down under would be "free".
So where did this February ticket come from?
I put it down to the three I's: Impulse, Internet, Ice. The first two are not surprisingly, interconnected. Air New Zealand runs one of those websites with fare names like "Sweet Dreams" which dangle enticing prices for long journies with "free" stops in places like Papeete and Nadi only to snatch them back if you dawdle. I spent most of one cold Sunday trolling the competition, going back and forth to my calendar and my checkboook, adding in the number of lovely airmiles accumulated by traveling to the other side of the planet and back and daydreaming about a world which the kids reported was "too hot". The too hot may have been the clincher as it always is for those of us who have just shoveled another fifteen inches of snow and refilled the wood stove for the third time in four hours.
I call Air New Zealand whose 800 number rings you right through to Auckland where you get to talk to an enthusaistic agent who talks funny and complains about the heat-- and put a ticket on hold. That service costs more than the web but gives you time to come back to your senses. I have a cup of tea, take a walk in the snow, do some "real" work, come back, open the Air New Zealand page--and punch in the million numbers it takes to spend close to four figures. My gamble costs me missed opportunities for cheaper connections to Los Angeles but I am non refundably going to New Zealand in four weeks and already imagining hugging those babies, turning pages, and looking out the plane window at the Big Dipper hanging upside down.