The hostess glides in stage right, how she can keep all those glasses steady on the tray one-handed, I will never know.
‘Would you like a glass of champagne, Madam?’
And this, just this, is the moment I have been waiting for. The horror of preparing to leave the family, the lists, the notes, the emails to teachers, the meals prepped, the beds changed, and instructions typed and printed. The social media scheduled, the articles ready to post, the photos sorted and prepped. Hurry, hurry, rush, rush. The sure knowledge that there will be punishment for this trip, this escape. The calls from screeching, sobbing kids, the piles of washing to come home too, the food going off in the fridge, the last-minute scramble to get assignments in, the messy house, the dusty bathrooms, scummy sinks. It is so, so stressful as a mother to go off on a trip on your own. But, as soon as you sit down on that plane, then and only then is all the preparation over. Put the phone on aeroplane mode… and drink that champagne.
The tall slim glass, impossibly elegant, tawny yellow, with golden bubbles slipping from the bottom, watch them slowly rise up to the top, pop and disappear. Chilly on the tongue, frothing as the cold champagne hits warmth, warming as it slides down, effortless swallowing. Perfectly fitting into my hand, condensation wetting my skin, the sharp cold of the drink making my grip tighter. Try, try not to drink it all down too fast, try to taste it, sharp, sweet. Try to feel that warm hit in the stomach, and the glow and ease spreading outwards.
In a life full of rough and tumble, bikes crashing and great splashing leaps into pools, somersaults on trampolines and plastic cups skiting across floors, plates dropped, running legs pounding up down and upstairs, where all utensils must be tough, where pans and cups must be pushed far from table and bench edges or else they will be knocked over, where music blares and voices chatter and yell and whisper all day long, where peace and quiet comes very late at night, and still it’s so hard to feel that peace and quiet in your own mind.
That tall, still, silent glass of champagne, in no danger of being sent flying, just neatly placed on its little round paper coaster. It marks the end of chaos and the start of real relaxation, freedom and calm. It has become a fixed notion in my mind. How could I ever give it up?