By MESHEL LAURIE
This isn’t the first natural disaster to hit a Laurie holiday. As Meshel sits in Bali hitting refresh on her airline’s website, she reflects on the two calamitous family getaways that taught her to just get on with it.
At the time of writing, I am one of thousands of Australians awaiting a wind change that might blow some volcanic ash away from Denpasar so that we can come home from our school holidays.
The airport is full of tired Australians who have carefully budgeted their rupiah, their prepaid phone credit, and their disposable nappies to last them until the exact moment of take-off, only to discover that moment has been postponed, indefinitely.
It’s a bit of a disaster, really. We all know there are worse fates in the world, but the disastrous holiday is a special kind of calamity that lives on in hearts and minds forever. I myself am a survivor of a family that vowed to never again attempt a holiday. It took everything I had to try one with my own children.
“You know what happens when we try holidays,” my mother warned as she handed me a chemist bag full of gastro medication and sunscreen. I swear she wiped a tear from her eye as she slipped in a pamphlet about dengue fever in under 5s.
Her dread was not unwarranted. We went on two holidays when I was a kid. Money was tight and in any case my dad doesn’t really believe in holidays. He resents people who take them, but then he also resents men who ride push bikes and buy chewing gum. He’s a man of firm opinions.
On two occasions he capitulated to mum’s nagging about family holidays. The first time we were to drive the three hours from home base in Toowoomba to Paradise central, the Gold Coast. We kids had heard about the water-skiing spectacular at Sea World, we’d seen rulers and pencil cases from Dreamworld, and finally it was going to be our turn.
Well, a few days before departure the weather man started making noises about a cyclone heading that way. People were cancelling their trips left, right and centre, but not us. Mum had paid for the unit in advance and there was a no-refund policy in place so the Laurie holiday was on, come hell or high water.
I’ll never forget, as long as I live, the stream of cars driving away from the Gold Coast as our old Falcon pushed against the tide, driving further and further toward the eye of the storm. By the time we reached our unit, palm trees were bending to kiss the tarmac at our feet, rain was pelting us horizontally, and trampolines were flying free toward new homes in neighbouring suburbs.