My daughter moved to Canberra in January. Not long after, we made arrangements to visit her for her birthday at the end of May. Since then, delays in the sale of our house have meant that settlement, and our subsequent move to a new house, have ended up coinciding with our return from Canberra. It was likely to be a hectic few days.
My anxiety levels were already at ‘eleven’ before landing in Canberra. I spent the entire flight worrying about all the things I had to do when we got back. My daughter, E, and her boyfriend met us at the airport. They then proceeded to argue all the way to our hotel. Canberra is a small city, but its road system is designed to cause the maximum frustration and confusion. Often, traveling from point A to point B is no simple matter. E and her boyfriend argued about the best way to get to our hotel, then about their comparative driving skills. By the time we got to our hotel I needed some tranquilizers and a soft pillow.
We were only in Canberra for five days, but it seemed a lot longer. Every morning I woke at 3.00am and lay huddled in the freezing dark worrying about things I had forgotten to do at home, or imagining all the things that could go wrong on ‘moving day’. I imagined the removalist’s van bursting into flames. I imagined them not turning up at all, and our possessions left by the side of the road. By the time I got up I felt sick. I spent the rest of the day stumbling around like a zombie.
Concerned about my debilitating anxiety, my daughter gave me a hypnosis cd that promised to provide peace and tranquility. I listened to it in the evening after we’d returned to our hotel room. A monotone voice soon lulled me to sleep. Unfortunately, I still woke up at 3.00am the next morning. I didn’t feel at all tranquil or peaceful. I was cold, tired and pissed off. I tried listening to it a few more times and either fell asleep or developed a headache.
Meanwhile, our time in the national capital passed pleasantly enough. We visited galleries, museums, restaurants, shops and monuments. We also went to Cockington Green, a village of miniature buildings. I wasn’t as awful as you might imagine, although I did find myself fighting the urge to impersonate Godzilla and stomp on the little people and buildings.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I relaxed the entire time I was in Canberra. It wasn’t the fault of the city or my daughter or even the hypnosis cd. I just couldn’t stop worrying about the upcoming move. From the moment we arrived back in Adelaide I was busy packing and making lists of things to do.
On the day of the move itself I awoke at 5.00am. By the time the removalists arrived at 8.00 I had all of our possessions ready to load into the van. I’d done everything but actually drag the stuff down the driveway. The removalists were two beefy guys who made moving enormous pieces of furniture looking simple. I tended to heighten this impression by attempting to move things on my own and appearing weak and pathetic. Within an hour or so they had everything we owned stacked neatly into the back of their truck.
Of course, the van didn’t burst into flames, and everything was delivered to our new address and unloaded without incident. That night I slept more soundly that I had for several weeks.
I have to remind myself that worrying doesn’t achieve much besides encourage stomach ulcers, tension headaches and wrinkles. And the things I worry about never actually happen… do they?