Special places

I can think of worse places to suffer a bout of food poisoning than Bangkok airport. Then again, I can think of better, too.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow of the whole icky story. Suffice to say it started with me feeling a bit weird shortly after I got off the plane from Laos and ended six hours later with me breaking my six and a half year “no-vomiting” streak and throwing up in the departure lounge bathroom while everyone else was busy boarding the plane. It must have been something I ate on the Bangkok Airways flight. Funny, in all these years of traveling I think this is the first time I’ve actually gotten sick because of plane food.

I was traveling alone (Mike won’t join me here for another ten days) so that sucked, but on the other hand I wasn’t toting a toddler around either. A six hour layover and a nine hour overnight flight is an awfully long to feel utterly wretched, but by some stroke of grace I also scored three seats to myself and was able to spend most of the flight flat on my back – which doubtless saved me (and everyone around me) from several lovely interludes with the airsickness bags. The whole trip took almost 24 hours, but I was very glad to see my father waiting for me at Brisbane airport so that I didn’t have to take the train for part of that last stint. As usual the whole thing was a mixed bag of things to sigh about and things to be thankful for.

And now I’m back in Ballina at my parent’s place – one of my favorite places in the world. It’s cloudy and cool here. The jacaranda trees are tossing purple in the breeze, the birds are flitting around, and there’s a lot of peace and quiet around. I woke up last night at midnight and came downstairs to get a glass of water and the moon was shining off the water in the river and way out to sea. This place soothes with a deep sort of calm. The sort that makes you remember that you’re breathing. The sort that only seems to come from being surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty.

The photo below is the view from the back porch of my parent’s place. Mike took it at dawn a year or two ago now. I have it set as the background on my computer, so I see it whenever I flip open the screen. There is so much for me to love about the image, not least is the fact that we got married right in front of that gazebo.

Mike and I sometimes joke about booting my parents off to do a year or more somewhere else (like Malawi, or Turkey – preferably somewhere we would also want to visit) while we housesit for them. Since we got married here I have also tried to explain to Mum and Dad that this place is now my sacred ground, that I therefore hold land rights, and that they should really sign it over to me and put the issue to rest. So far they haven’t bought it. Also, Dad has a bad habit of pointing out – while laughing – that I would not want to do even a fraction of the work it takes to keep this place running. In reply, I ask him why he thinks I married Mike.

As it doesn’t look like Mum and Dad will be handing over the deed to their house anytime soon, I guess I’ll just have to count myself lucky at being able to come home for the holidays now and then. And I do, believe me.

What about you? Where’s that special place? Can you still visit?

20 responses to “Special places

  1. Funny you should mention that… it reminded me of a post I wrote a while back.

  2. “This place soothes with a deep sort of calm. The sort that makes you remember that you’re breathing. The sort that only seems to come from being surrounded by extraordinary natural beauty.” (P.S. Love, love, loved that bit.)

    That quote made me remember this post as well:

    • Aha… and as life would have it I have been to your magical place called home and it is truly magical, majestic, extraordinaryextraordinary (because one extraordinary is not enough). It’s one of the few places I’ve seen that rivals here. The sort of place you struggle to describe.

  3. Tell me the truth, that last question was just an opportunity to canvas people on their understanding of ‘home’ wasn’t it? 😛

  4. I think a much more interesting question would be: Who of you friends/blog readers has the longest no-vomiting streak? 🙂

  5. @Lynne Hmm I have a definite hatred of vomiting- or at least I used to- but I think the last time I vomited was in December 2004 in Hyderabad, Pakistan, experiencing something moderately similar to what Lis just described. So, not too bad, but definitely not a record-breaker.

  6. PS- Lis, there’s a series on my blog “Moments in Space and Time” which capture 10 different ‘special places’ that I’ve loved, although they don’t have the comfort/homelike character you’ve described here.

  7. I will confess to a 20 (or so) year stretch from about the age of 7 (when I baptized the brand new carpet in the brand new house on the day we were moving in) till a bout of food poisoning in the Philippines two decades later broke the streak. It’s all been down hill since then.

  8. Lisa, I just read your book, “my hands came away red”. It is the most REAL fiction book I have every read. In fact, I read this book in two nights. Having worked for over 20 years with an international mission board recruiting healthcare volunteers, I was right there with all of you in what you were going through.
    I went on the internet hoping to find you had written similar books, but was disappointed. Understand you are in the process of writing another book, but of course, I don’t know what that’s about.
    Congratulations on your marriage!
    May God bless you in your life and your ministry to others.

    • Alvinia, thank you for those wonderfully kind words, and for coming to visit the blog! Yes, I am working on a new book (a memoir) and I’ll get back to that draft in January and hope to finish it next year before starting another novel. Thanks again, and hope you’re having a great week.

  9. I need a holiday at your parents place… deep soothing calm. Glad you on ‘home’ soil for a bit. Enjoy!

    • Yeah, I do luck out with this as a holiday destination, for sure. Glad I’m on home soil too. The difference between here and Laos is much more marked than the difference between here and LA so this homecoming has been particularly fun and novel.

  10. For me it is the highlands of Papua. I love the city I grew up in on the coast, but the muggy heat just doesn’t have the same serenity for me. Some of these beautiful, flowered mountain villages with crisp, cool air, wood fires…. that to me is peace and joy.

    • Yeah, I get that. Of all the places we lived growing up I’d love to go back and visit Zimbabwe the most. Jacaranda trees still remind me of there even now, after many more years of seeing them here in Australia than there.

  11. We are heading to my husband’s favorite place tomorrow morning. It is his grandparents’ farm in Southern Mississippi; we are heading there to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 70th wedding anniversary. Although it is not his childhood home, many of his most vivid memories of childhood were made on the farm. When we first began dating, he could not wait to take me to Mississippi and the place has seeped into my soul, as well.

    Even though I didn’t grow up in the state where my parents now live, when I go to their house, it is going home. How much of the specialness of your parents’ place are the people and how much are the physical environs?

    • Oh how fun! I hope you have a wonderful visit – and 70 years!!! What an accomplishment.

      It’s a mixture here, probably most of the reason this place is absolutely magical is because of all the time I’ve spent with people I’ve loved here. Special time. This place would be special without that I think, but maybe just special in that “wow, what a gorgeous place way”. But when you add special people to special place… wow. It all becomes sort of exponential.

      I don’t think I can actually use the work exponential like that, but I’m going to leave it because I think it makes sense, even if it’s not technically correct.

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