Ronan left for Australia last week, with a complicated itinerary that took him to two American airports before the long haul to Melbourne. “I’m so excited!” he said. “Tomorrow I go to Cleveland!” Oh well. The journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single step. And yes, he is now ten thousand miles away. You can’t really go any further on this planet without starting to come back.
He had a bit of a bumpy departure. It wasn’t our fault: I started packing for him weeks beforehand. The packing list was challenging in itself, as he is going on a school camping trip to the Badlands, and needs all sorts of things with Australian names, like gaiters, and a rash vest. I had to double check to make sure I didn’t send him off with crocodiles and a vest chosen hastily. Also, the little bugger has sprouted size 13 feet; his shoes alone need their own cargo compartment. In any case, we managed to get everything into one large suitcase (thankfully underweight), checked that he had passport, phone, American and Australian dollars, fully loaded Ipad, gum, melatonin to help sleep, and then made it to the airport in plenty of time to catch the flight to, well, Cleveland.
And that’s when we found out that he needed a visa to travel to Australia.
This trip has been almost a year in the planning, and no one either knew this, or saw fit to mention it. I remained calm, and forced my eyeballs to remain in my head, not wanting to panic the 14 year old who was all set to embark on the journey of ten thousand miles. Fortunately, the airline rep told us, you can apply online, and, if you don’t have any outstanding convictions or security issues, you can get immediate clearance. “Immediate” actually took three tries and close to an hour, but he finally got the OK, and then we had a mad dash to Customs and Immigration, then hasty hugs, and admonishments not to lose his passport and to try some sleep on the flight, and then … he was gone.
It was a quiet trip home from the airport.