When someone asks me what I had for breakfast I pause for minutes, delving into the depths of my brain trying to pull out the image of my most recent meal. That picture of me spreading jam over my toast must be lost, lodged between the memory of last night’s bolognaise and last week’s cereal. But, when someone asks me for travel advice the memories come floating in within seconds; as though they were merely floating in that gooey fluid that surrounds my brain and not actually buried in the matter.
To write about travel comes easily but it comes in snippets. I could not recount for you a day by day journey across Europe, but I could tell you parts. About the time I missed a flight in Athens, the restaurant where I had the best four cheese pasta I have ever tasted, the coastal café where I saw the most beautiful Italian waiter. But placing these events into chronological order proves tricky. Here is my most recent adventure: a road trip up to Byron but lay out for you in pieces; memory fragments floating on the surface of my brain parenchyma.
We were in Yamba, our last stop before Byron Bay. Corey placed the 1950s, antique scrabble set on the top of the car. ‘That’s risky! Make sure we don’t drive off with that there…’ Famous last words. It was the fifth night of our road trip up north. We were on a budget so had grown accustomed to making up our bed each night in the back of his VW station-wagon. The car was emptied – scrabble set included – whilst we prepared tonight’s make-shift hotel room: 2 yoga mats laid across the boot covered by 1 big blanket with 2 pillows thrown on top.
We spent that night in a disastrous dichotomy: leave the windows open and risk mosquitos entering in their flocks or leave windows closed and suffocate in the summer heat. We compromised, leaving the windows a hand’s width open. I woke up early that morning with the sun as it streamed through the back window. I got out of the car and the air outside never felt so cold, I can remember that first breath of fresh, crispy air and the feel on the sun dancing across my skin.
We left that morning and headed onto the highway. I noticed that my Scrabble set was not resting in its usual place on the passenger seat dashboard. Then my mind flashed back and my body froze in realisation. Slowly, I turned to Corey and asked if he had collected the board game from the top of the car. I winced, already knowing the answer. Corey looked at me, eyes wide and teeth clenched, head shaking, ‘no’ he whispered.
We arrived back at the car park in Yamba and pulled up opposite our spot from 2 days earlier. The ground was empty, not even 1 letter was left. Spirits down, we hopped back in the car and headed up the hill to leave the car park, when suddenly we felt a crunch under the tyres. We both looked at each other and checked our mirrors. Lying in the road was what looked like hundreds of little cream flower petals. We stopped the car where it was and ran out. Strewn across the ground was the remnants of our Scrabble set. The tiles were everywhere, some crushed, some in perfect conditions. Letters strewn out like a kindergarten classroom: ‘ghaoft’, ‘afjfpsa’, ‘aqppfs’. But in amongst all the chaos, someone had placed a row of tiles down perfectly, in a sentence that read:
We couldn’t help but laugh at the creativity.