Time to plan an adventure
7 DAYS LATER
The doorbell rings and I know it’s Emma. As I open the door, I see that she's wearing a flowy dress with little yellow daisies that I know for a fact is one of her own creations. Doesn’t matter that it’s the start of May, and it’s starting to get chilly, even in the middle of winter... Em will always be wearing her beloved dresses and skirts. In the whole 10 years we’ve known each other, I think I can count with my fingers the amount of times I’ve seen her wear a pair of pants.
“Hey, bitch! How’s it going?” She says with a grin.
“Yeah, not bad, pretty excited actually!"
Emma has been talking about the trip non stop during the last couple of days, and even though I’m really excited too, I’ve also been having plenty of second thoughts. This is so much further out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been… than I ever thought I would be.
If I’m honest with myself, the whole thing is actually terrifying.
Em walks in confidently, like she’s stepping into her own house and we sit in the dining room, where we set both of our computers on the table and get settled.
“So, where do we start?” Em asks after everything is in place.
“I was hoping you’ll ask that!” I say a little bit excitedly as I pull out a notebook and open it into a page that’s got an extensive checklist on it. Em is instantly laughing.
“Why am I not surprised that you made a list? You’re so OCD, sometimes you even make me think I’m normal!”
I ignore her comment, it’s almost 11am and we’re behind schedule because Em was obviously late. So I explain the plan: “Okay, the first item on the list is researching the activities and places we want to go to so we can start organising an itinerary. Rotorua is one of the obvious stops as mum said that’s the town where my father was born. Christchurch is the other one, as I want to see the city where they met. I’ll ask mum for places we can’t miss there. I have a list of other places we should research, and after all that is sorted… Well, then it’s the whole booking accommodation and activities process... but there’s a long road ahead until we get there.”
“Can I give you the good news now?” Em asks, and there’s a cheeky glow in her eyes that makes me wonder what she got up to.
“Oh my, what have you done?” I ask cautiously.
“I bought the tickets!” she says in a squeal, and then she covers her mouth with both hands, hiding a huge smile.
“Emma Alexandra Moon!!” I try so hard to look annoyed and sound angry, but I can’t help but laugh at Em’s expression, she just looks so thrilled. “Why am I not surprised?” I add, folding my arms over my chest and keeping my expression neutral.
I have to admit, a part of me thought about the possibility of her doing something like this without my knowledge. Emma has always been impulsive and sometimes even reckless. But still, I can feel my heart pounding on my chest like crazy. This is real, way too real now. We’re going, actually going, as in, we have plane tickets to go all the way across the globe! For a second, I think I might faint.
I’ve been thinking about it all week, but I still can’t believe I finally know who my father is. So many years of being in the dark, I feel like all this light is blinding me. I talked about him with mum a couple of times during the week, but I can tell it’s still hard for her to do it, so I don’t want to push. I’m hoping she’ll open up with time, and maybe once all this information stops driving me crazy, I can ask some questions.
“Well,” Em starts explaining, “We already knew the dates for your three weeks university winter break in July. And when we texted the other day, it was clear we both agreed on taking at least two weeks for the trip... So I thought there wasn’t a whole lot to discuss... And I found a pretty good deal on a flight ‘cause it had a bit of a longer route.” The way she says that makes me think that her 'a bit', will be more like a 'huge bit'. “It's crazy how much time one loses when traveling such a long distance, you know, but we have some solid days booked to be spent on the land of Middle Earth.” Em holds her breath for a second, undoubtedly waiting for my reaction. “And this way you can’t back down...” she adds with a tiny little bit of doubt in her voice.
I run my hands through my already messy hair, which is getting pretty long.
“What about my work?” I ask, “I haven’t asked for holidays yet.” It's taking me every ounce of willpower I have to keep my anxiety in check.
“Taken care of,” says Emma with a smile. My jaw must drop all the way to the floor, cause Em laughs out loud. “Don’t worry, I called your lovely supervisor, what’s her name again? Rosa? We had a good chat, and she agreed to give you all the time off I requested.”
I push my mouth shut with my palm, which makes Em laugh again. “How did you manage that?” I say, genuinely astonished.
“I have contacts, my sweet friend,” she says with a wink. “Nah, just kidding, do you remember my friend Magda? She needed some extra work for the holidays, and I thought that was perfect, so she’s gonna be taking over all of your shifts at the restaurant while we’re gone. She’s got experience and everything, so Rosa was delighted.”
I can’t believe my ears. Or maybe I do. It’s Em, why am I so surprised? My friend can accomplish absolutely everything she sets her mind to. And Rosa does actually like me, so she usually tries to please me whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t harm the restaurant’s operations, obviously.
“Oh well, when are we going?” I ask with a feigned nonchalant shrug. Might as well just roll with it, there's no use arguing with Em, like, ever. She always wins.
Emma grabs her bags, and after a bit of shuffling around, she hands me a wrinkled piece of paper. It’s a print out of the tickets she purchased, with all the information about the flights. It looks like we will be flying out on the 9th of July, have a layover of a couple of hours in Dubai on the 10th, late at night. Then the 11th magically disappears from our lives due to time differences, (which is absolutely crazy!) and we'll finally arrive in Auckland on the 12th of July, early in the morning.
“Wow, this is a seriously long flight! Well, more like multiple really long flights!” I exclaim as I look up at Em over the paper, “Didn’t realise how far away we actually were.”
"Yeah, as I said, it's not the quickest route... but it was the cheapest! You don't make money by throwing away your pennies," she says with a shrug. “We’ll make it up on the way back though, we pretty much leave and arrive at the same time, time difference works in such crazy ways! Well, it also helps that we're returning with a direct flight.”
The flight schedule is actually pretty good, we’re leaving as soon as recess starts, and then once we’re back I can have a weekend to plan everything before classes resume. Maybe not ideal, but I can get most of it done in the week before we leave.
It’s going to be a few really exciting and stressful weeks between planning this trip, studying for my finals, and getting myself sorted for our holiday as well as for the start of next term. My palms sweat at the realisation, but I tell myself I’m organized enough for this to work, I’ll make a monthly planner, schedule daily tasks and I’ll make it. Maybe. Hopefully.
“Well, let’s start planning this adventure,” I say as I settle in to start the investigation, convincing myself that I need to start with task one as soon as possible. I open up the browser, but I can feel Em staring at me, so I look back up over the screen.
“Do you really want an adventure, Sam?” Her worried tone throws me off a bit, so I consider this for a moment. Do I? Do I want to get out of my comfort zone and go to a completely foreign place? Do I want to spend some amazing quality time with my best friend? Do I want to get to know the place where I was born? I realise I actually really do.
Am I scared? Petrified.
Am I ready? Maybe not.
Will I do it anyways? Yes.
“I do... I want to be more like you.” I finally say with a smile.
A huge smile spreads on Em’s face, making the corners of her eyes wrinkle a little. She looks so pleased, but there’s also something so mischievous in her eyes that it makes me regret my words if ever so slightly. What am I getting myself into?
“Don’t say another word, I’ve got this,” Em replies with a wink, and then she looks down and gets fully into research mode, typing as fast as she can.
“Okay, it’s sorted then. We finally have an itinerary!” I say winking at Sam 4 weeks after our first meeting.
If it was my choice, I would have just put a few things together quickly and sorted the rest on the go, but I know Sam needed much more reasurance than that, so we’ve been meeting twice a week for the past month to get every single detail about the trip sorted. Not gonna complain, it was fun, and it was a perfectly good excuse to see my friend more often.
And to get out of my house.
“I think I’m starting to get excited, we only have two weeks left until we go, and everything is in place,” says Sam with a little timid smile, “I think I might catch the travel bug after this!”
I stretch my arms over my head and moan loudly as I watch her tidy up the mess we’ve made in the last couple of hours. As I watch Sam tying her hair back into a ponytail, a random thought crosses my mind.
“Sam, how come you didn’t dye your hair again?” I ask her.
She looks confused, her eyebrows almost touching.
“What do you mean? I dyed it not too long ago,” she says, playing with her lilac hair and moving it in front of my eyes to remark the obviousness of the matter.
“I know, I know,” I say as I shove Sam’s hair off my face with an annoyed grunt, “but...” I trail off for a second, not knowing how to say this without offending her. I should have thought this through before bringing up the subject, “You know, you always dye your hair a different colour when something big happens...” I look at Sam, making sure she doesn’t look annoyed or upset before I keep going, “And after what happened with Brad, and then finding out about your dad... I was expecting a change, that’s all.”
She seems to be pondering my words, her mouth pushed to one side, her fingers playing with the cord of her hoodie, and she finally shrugs.
“Dunno,” she says, and she walks out of the room, taking the empty mugs into the kitchen.
Sam’s crazy hair colour is one of my favourite things about her. She’s always playing it safe, but her hair is the one thing that’s always been bold. During the time we’ve known each other, Sam’s had short spiky hair in her naturally dark colour, a short blond bob, which she then dyed to add pink highlights, and after the pink came blue, then purple, and I will never forget the time it had been a deep dark green, which had led to a thousand jokes about Sam looking like a tree. I mean, brown skin and green hair? I couldn’t call myself her best friend if I didn’t joke about it. She always came back at me saying that she'd rather think about herself as a wood nymph, or a troll, which I thought was hilarious.
Sam’s hair’s boldness always gives me hope, because it means deep down, Sam really is that brave girl I believe her to be. She just needs a tiny little push to realise it herself.
Note: Hi! Thanks for reading this far! Means the world to me, and thanks to the ones leaving me cute comment! It does mean so much💕
And because I'm in a good mood... I'm doing a double update! So you can scroll straight to the next chapter ☺️