The day after our wedding, the mister and I left Australia to go backpacking. He had been working in a grown up job for two years and I had been working for one, and between us we had saved ten thousand dollars which we changed into US dollar traveller’s cheques on the day that the Australian dollar was at its lowest value all that year. Savvy.
Each fortnight I took my cheque (yes, we got paid by cheque) and took it to the Hindmarsh Building Society and put it into our backpacking account. If we wanted to take money out of that account we had to give them notice (maybe 24 hours, maybe two days, I don’t remember exactly how much). It was supposed to stop us making impulsive purchases. Not that the mister has ever made an impulsive purchase in his life (as far as I know).
I did make one impulsive purchase that year. A flute. Which I played slightly less poorly than I now play the banjo and which I packed in my backpack to take around the world. I cannot explain this to you, but it must have made sense at the time.
The only other thing I really spent money on that year was this: from time to time, I would go to David Jones and buy the mister a new shirt and tie for him to wear at work. I felt so sophisticated, so in love.
We were never entirely sure that we would reach our savings goal. The economic times in South Australia at the time were particularly uncertain, living as we were in washup of the State Bank disaster, and paying a high price for the potent mix of greed and ineptitude from which the state has still not entirely recovered. Like nearly everyone I graduated with, I was employed on a series of contracts and the mister, a structural engineer, came home from work each week with the news that someone else had been laid off. A junior drafter, an accountants person who had been with the company for twenty years, a receptionist… in many ways not much has changed in that respect. I’m self-employed now and have a casual contract with an employer and the mister…well, he lives a long way away.
Anyway, we saved our ten thousand dollars which even now seems an enormous amount of money and a fair proportion of that went on the plane ticket because plane travel was extraordinarily expensive then, and not saying that it’s cheap now but discount airlines and the interwebs hadn’t been invented yet. We bought a one way ticket and left some money with my dad to be sent to us when we wanted to fly home.
We were on an international flight to Bali, which transited through Perth. Adelaide had an international airport by then, though how many flights were going in and out I can’t say. We had one night booked in a fancy resort at Kuta and for the rest we had the Lonely Planet guide to South-East Asia.
Many lovely people came to the airport to see us off, including my parents who were in charge of bringing the passports. When they arrived, a little bleary-eyed (I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest possibly not entirely sober) I said, ‘Oh thank goodness you are here, can you please pass us our passports so we can check in.’
They said, ‘Oh! Shit! The passports!’
I said, ‘Yes, very funny, now just give them to me.’
They did not reply because they were running back to the car so that they could drive quickly to the place where they had not brought our passports from.
Anyhoo, this is Adelaide and it was early Sunday morning so they were able to go and get our passports and bring them back in time. We got on the plane with our traveller’s cheques, our matching backpacks (which we had bought on layby from Paddy Pallin and they were excellent backpacks but deadset the dude who sold them to us should have said, ‘Yeah, look, you don’t want matching ones though’), my flute, the mister’s doctor martins and almost zero knowledge of global geography. When the air hostess (for that is what they were called back then) found out it was our honeymoon she brought us a glass of champagne and gave us a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to take off the plane.
We had hundreds of plans none of which involved living in Berlin on a diet of apples dipped in nutella, letting post-wall punks’ pet rats run across our shoulders while we were on the train, then buying a ticket to Auckland and living in New Zealand for four years, but that’s what happened in the end.