Flying backwards

When I flew out of Melbourne on New Year’s Eve it was 32 degrees (that’s Celsius) at 9am. 44 bushfires were burning further north.
I get very confused at airports. I forget where home is. Deep in my being, home is Melbourne. But for the past seven years, it’s been elsewhere – the place where my partner is, where I live, where my books and stuff are waiting, where I work. But I forget.
This is nothing new. It was worst when I lived in Sydney and shuttled back and forth to Melbourne for work all the time. I’ve often tried to get on the wrong plane in those middle of the night transits in Dubai or Singapore, not quite awake and heading in the wrong direction.
At the weekend I remembered to stand in the correct check-in queue, even though it was only 7am, but by the time I got to the counter, my mind had wandered. Airports do that to me.
“And where are we off to today?” asked the Qantas man.
“Melbourne,” I said, confidently.
“You’re already in Melbourne,” he said gently.
“Oh, well – must be the other place.”
“You need to give me more of a hint,” he said. He’d probably been working since 4am. They were checking in four flights at once. “The possibilities are Japan, Shanghai via Sydney, Auckland or Hong Kong.”
“I’ll take Auckland,” I said, even though I’m desperate to go to Shanghai and Hong Kong’s one of my favourite cities.
I blame e-tickets. You don’t have a bit of paper that tells you where you’re flying, or, more importantly, tells the weary airline staff which flight you’ve booked. Well, I might have printed it out but it’s … somewhere. I need it pinned to my lapel, like Paddington Bear. If only I could figure out which destination to write on the label.

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