Around the world balloons symbolise celebration – a sweeping statement but I can’t think of a time when the don’t. Sweets, cakes, friends, presents, music, laughter, family…love even. So a wrinkled one, while on one hand being entirely insignificant, is also pretty sad. Really sad. The shrivelled embodiment of impermanence and hopelessness. It will only get more wrinkled with time; it is only waiting. Waiting for when it has no air left and it’s limp skin is tossed away, mourned only by a child, if it is lucky. Or worse, it is put out of its misery early. Pop.
And with that in mind I have chosen the wrinkled balloon to head up my travel blog. Great beginnings.
I’m 33 and unavoidably, I am getting a bit wrinkly – nothing horrendous, well not really horrendous. For years, even before the wrinkles began, I talked about travelling. And, if I’m honest, it was getting embarrassing. To labour a metaphor I began to look as though I was full of hot air; the years passed by and I didn’t.
I talked so much, in 2005 my greatest friend presented me with the Lonely Planet of South East Asia, carefully inscribed with a message about spreading my wings, here it is:
Later that year – I can see it so clearly – I drawled into my seldom-seen uncle’s ear at a family wedding. The night was old and there I was clutching a warm glass of white in one hand as the other hitched up my too tight bridesmaid’s dress and all the while I slurred over the top of ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ (put in for atmosphere, I’m really not sure what tune) about only getting one life, not wanting to find myself at 40 devoted to ‘the man’ (that’s the corporate man, not the intimate one). Cringe. I remember him – which makes it worse, better to not remember at all – patient, head tilted while multi-coloured disco lights exploded out of the back of it. Cringe again.
Seven years later, I’m going. It has become too embarrassing to stay.
Prevarication is the most well-developed of my flaws. But there are some things that will catch up with you eventually – deadlines and the tax man are two that have caught me this year. And now my brave declaration that I will travel – damn it, I wish this one would have beat the tax man. Another lesson in why not to prevaricate.
I leave for the French Alps in just over a month where I will slave over porcelain – toilets, bathtubs, hot tubs, dinner plates…you name it, I can’t think of any more white stuff you might find inside a ski chalet – in return for the chance (maybe) of snowboarding every day. And from there to Kuala Lumpa, Nepal (where I will fix my feng shui after ‘the season’, as it is referred to – reference Jack Wills ad campaigns), Thailand and finally Sydney, Australia to see my wing-spreading enabling friend.
The Wrinkled Balloon is my record, chronicling how an anxious (reference age, death, the wrong shoes, inadequate travel insurance and everything in between), frequently socially inappropriate (wine, usually the wine, although I have been known to just say what my mind is cautioning ‘might be a bad idea’ without any other substance or circumstance to blame) and incurably insecure individual can make it around the world. In one piece – please, I have read enough about terms of repatriation – full, loving it and celebrating.