written by: Joanne VanR
“Should I stay, or should I go now,” the words bounce against the walls of my mind and will not dispel.
‘Today’s earworm brought to you by – The Clash,’ I say to the universe as I switch down a gear.
Gliding along the familiar bends with ease, my car slices through the long shadows as evening approaches.
“If I stay there will be trouble,”
Yeah, maybe. Mine is the only name on the list of who I’ll be letting down.
“If I go it will be double…” I hope this visit will decide that.
My friend Jamie phoned me two days ago.
‘My magazine is looking for new photographers. Here’s a chance to be recognised as the great photographer you are.’
‘Thank you, you’re biased, but I will think about it.’
The opportunity to photograph orangutans and other monkeys, as well as the exotic flora at Leakey Camp is the score of a lifetime. Getting paid for it, a bonus. Before that phone call, I didn’t even know where Leakey Camp was. I asked Mr. Google who advised me it is in Central Borneo. Two planes to somewhere called Pangkalan Bun. Then I would travel by klotok up the river to the Tanjung Putig National Park. Apparently, I could take a local flight, but the magazine’s budget decides the choice of travel. Anyway, the chance to photograph wildlife along the river would make up for that three, maybe, four-hour river trip.
If I pass this up, I know I will regret it. I have a history of letting opportunities slip by because of my obliging nature. I’ve been told to be more selfish. I’m determined this time. But…two things stand in my way.
Mum, as always, is standing at the top of the drive as I pull up. How does she know to be there waiting at the right moment?
Dinner finished, dishes washed, we now sit at the table with our coffees. I tell them about the career-changing opportunity.
‘Well of course you should do it. Why do you need to ask us about it?’ asks Mum.
My parents have always supported the decisions I’ve made.
‘Do you need help with money?’ asks Dad.
I shake my head.
‘Travel and accommodation are covered by the magazine. I have savings that can help with any other expenses.’
‘I’m confused. What’s the problem?’ asks Mum.
‘If I decide to go, it will be for three months. I’ve come to ask … well….’ I start to cry. ‘Can you mind Sadie and Cherry?’ Sadie and Cherry are my two beautiful Maine Coon cats.
My parents look at each other and laugh.
‘Is that all? Of course, we can help with that,’ says Mum.
‘Why are you laughing? They’re my babies.’
I smile at them through tears. For the first time since Jamie’s call, I allow sprinkles of enthusiasm to seep through.
Two weeks later, my passport is stamped, and I take a deep breath. I’m here.
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