Change of plans – see you next lifetime

This week has been a great reminder for me on how a change of plans can sometimes happen instantly or has been something a few years in the making. Either way, you can’t dwell on things too much for too long..

We’ll see you next Tuesday – the instant change of plans

It felt like we were on the last lap of a very long race with the finish line in sight when all of a sudden a race marshal had a quick look at the programme guide and realised that no, there were at least another 50 laps to go.

change of plans
‘You’ve got plenty left in the tank yeah?’

It was the day before my son went in for surgery, an operation to partially remove a tumour that’s been giving him a fair bit of grief across this year since it was detected back across Easter. And since then there’s been a barrage of tests including MRI’s, cognitive tests, working out how his brain is wired, blood work and even vision tests because the operation might knock out his top peripheral vision. He’s been down because of all the tests, beyond tired because of the tumour occasionally kicking him right in the middle of doing something where he can’t focus or explain what’s going on for at least 60 seconds – as parents we’ve been down watching him battle through this. And after all the hurdles, we finally landed on the day before the big operation.

But it wasn’t to be – we’d got up early for an appointment that was incorrectly booked ‘We’re sorry we had you down for 8:30am but it’s actually 1:30pm’ and while trying to clarify if meeting the anaesthetist would be on the phone or in person, they warned us there was a chance of the surgery being postponed due to a more severe case coming in, the change of plans you really hope doesn’t occur.

A text message later that morning told us surgery was now the next day. Jack was a little disappointed but at least it was happening. But during the meeting that afternoon, things changed again.

‘So you would’ve been informed that surgery has now been moved to next week so we’ll see you next Tuesday..’

‘But the text message we got this morning says Wednesday?’

‘That’s strange, we don’t do these types of surgery on Wednesdays, I’ll have to look into who sent that…’

After 3.5 hours on the road to get there, timing my last day at work just before it so I could finish one thing and shift my entire focus to where it needed to be, packing our bags, organising the brother in law to house sit and look after after the cat as well as turning up at mum’s place with enough stuff for a two week stay away from home while our son recovers from the op…look I probably don’t need to paint the picture of how we were all feeling at that moment. Suffice to say we shuffled out of our last appointment heads bowed, minds reeling.

The hospital does have meerkats though, so that was a bonus.

But as we talked our boy though things, it became abundantly clear that even with this change of plans, things were still going to happen. He was still going to have his surgery, just in a weeks time. He will still be looked after and cared for by some of the best in the business. We were still going to spend some time in Melbourne with family, Xmas especially. And even though surgery for him didn’t go ahead yet, another little boy going through a similar situation was hopefully coming to the end of his painful journey.
And as a parent, I could imagine the sense of relief this kid’s mum and dad must be feeling now that they finally have a surgery date after seeing what he went through. Just because the change of plans moved a lot of things for us, it did help another kid in trouble and I can’t really argue that, not when the hospital has been so on top of things as they have.

Next week then – all fingers, toes, hair, everything crossed. We’ll drive down and try again next week.

I appreciate everything but won’t be moving back – the long term change of plans.

I grew up a Melbourne city kid for the first 18 years of my life, so close to the CBD side of things that given a spare hour and something to enjoy on my Walkman, I could stroll there easily enough if I chose to. What was out of walking range was easily accessible via public transport or a friends car and I spent quite a lot of time trawling the city from playing all the games on the electronics level of Myer to enjoying the hot jam donuts and getting lost in the throng of the Queen Victoria Market crowds.
I went clubbing at places like Metro nightclub and Heat at Crown Casino. I drank at places like the International Lounge and Young and Jackson’s and took many a last train out of Flinders Street Station to get home.
A small coffee at a pop up street cafe was just a shiny $2 coin where a $5 note would add a slice of chocolate cake to it. Fried rice and orange juice at Australia on Collins was my hangover go to and many an hour was spent rifling through the comics at Minotaur (which has changed locations at least four times in my lifetime by my count).
This was home for me – I grew up there, went to school there, then high school and uni, fell in and out of love around Melbourne and learnt plenty of life lessons along the way right up to the time I ended up getting my license (just).

So with such a personal history invested over close to two decades, it was no wonder I was happy to jump onboard the radio university general plan of attack – which according to my lecturer at the time (onya Jim!) was one five years in the making.

‘You start off somewhere in the country and then over the space of five years, keep working up, taking jobs closer to things until you find your way back to a big city and a job at a radio station there.’

-Jim B, radio lecturer.

A solid plan really and which budding radio student wouldn’t want to heard across the city they grew up in within five years of working in the industry? The idea worked for me – well until I realised it actually didn’t and that this one size fits all notion was actually subject to change.

Because five years down the track I was only half an hour closer to my destination than from where I’d started and there was still a solid 3 hour gap to go anywhere. I’d moved up in station size from my first (with a tiny pay increase) but I certainly wasn’t on the outskirts of the Melbourne city area knocking to be let back in.

(Funnily enough I got my first ever ‘chat with the CEO’ meeting in my 2nd job and he put that question to me: Where do you think you’ll see yourself in five years time? I told him at the very top of things meaning as an announcer in a Capital City radio station but I think he thought I meant I’d be trying to topple him for his job. Sorry for the confusion Stephen, you certainly wouldn’t want me at that level of things, I know Mark doesn’t currently.)

Within ten years I’d made it an hour down the road and if conditions were right, you could probably tune in from Melbourne and hear me fill in across various shifts in Geelong. But then after a while there was a change of plans again when I decided I wanted to do breakfast radio – and if they didn’t let me do it there, I’d find somewhere else to do it.

Long story short: They didn’t let me do breakfast there. So I stuck to my guns and moved even further away from the five year plan goal that had well and truly become stretched to over ten and now closer to fifteen years and counting without a single shift on the commercial airwaves of where I grew up..

And now 23 years later..

Okay the good news is – I did get on air in Melbourne. Well from the Gold Coast filling in for a couple of weeks, but it counts – especially when a mate of mine text me to share he was listening to my shift. So my five year plan eventuated…sort of.

Just 18 years later than expected and only briefly.

(Amusingly my current job still in radio still has me three and a half hours away from the Melbourne CBD, what goes around comes around.)

But on the day when we were supposed to be distracting ourselves while waiting for the results of Jack’s surgery (yesterday at the time of writing), I got a nice little reminder on how sometimes a change of plans can take quite a while and look completely unrecognisable at the end.

Dejected by the delay, our little family decided on a sight seeing trip of the city instead of hitting the road and driving three hours back with me playing tour guide. We hoped on a train and before you knew it I was leading them all over the place checking out toy sales, the Myer Christmas windows, Melbourne Central, every food court under the sun, the latest Minotaur comics location and so much more. And being December, absolutely everywhere was practically jumping and teaming with people, crowds flocking everywhere.
So much so that I reminded myself that while the place is great to visit, I no longer have a yearning to live there.

change of plans
Myer madness at its finest

Yep, seems the city kid had to say goodbye to the CBD sooner or later. Melbourne hadn’t changed but it looks like I did.

I know the basics but not the finer details

I know the major streets of Melbourne and the buildings that have been there longer than I have. I know the public transport situation in and out and if it’s an absolute necessity, I can drive you in and out (it’s Melbourne traffic, I’d really prefer not to if possible.) But I can no longer tell you where specific shops are or the best food courts or your favourite shops because everything changes every time I visit (once a year or so).
My intimate knowledge of the place came to an end circa 1998 and you can imagine what’s different about the city since then.
But then my likes and tastes have changed a lot too.

I never noticed the teaming crowds before, that was just a part of city life but getting slowed down my people glued to their screens is really noticeable now. The noise? Background atmosphere once upon a time but now I find myself really attuned to it and wishing there was a volume button I could punch.
Traffic? Well nothing’s changed there – well apart from me being a touch more aware of idiot drivers than when I was growing up.
The place is absolutely pumping as it always has been…but I think it’s me that’s come to the realisation that I really like where I am and the yearning to be back and a part of it left by the wayside quite a while ago.

Crazy for someone who grew up there but now I much prefer a fleeting visit than moving back.

A VR experience is a great distraction for a kid having a bad day though..

As a kid a trip to the city was exciting and while it still is today, we were very tired when all was said and done. And when I got back to the calm of mum’s house on the outskirts, I suddenly found myself appreciating the quieter rural areas I’ve come to call home now over the last 23 years.
Yes it’s a hike to get there, yes there’s less variety, less excitement and far less hustle. Yes the pace is slower and the party ends at 10 and Sunday afternoon is super quiet – but that’s okay. Sure I sound like an old man (given what’s on our plate in the last few weeks getting set for surgery and not sleeping right I’m certainly starting to look like an old man!) instead of a career hungry take over the radio world student but guess what five year plan me if you’re reading this, it’s okay. I’m happy here – still working in radio, still loving what I do, just not in the heart of Melbourne like first promised. We’re fit and healthy (well Jack will be soon post surgery when it happens) and looking forward to when the world calms down a little so we can get on with life again.

Sorry Melbourne, bit of a change of plans there. Not everything goes to plan – boy howdy do I know that this week – But I still love you for everything you taught me along the way.

Now to continue on with life and make next year my best year…

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