I BOARD the plane and realise I've lost it.
I found it in 2005, when I set off overseas alone for a new life in London, and last time I checked (about 2009, in the Americas), I still had it.
But in the intervening three, nearly four years, I've lost it altogether.
The art of travelling, that is.
Being able to jump on a plane (or boat, or tram, or rickshaw), brimming with excitement about what might happen next; not knowing exactly where you're going, or how you might get there, but embracing that prospect, rather than shrivelling in fear at it.
This week I took my first solo flight since becoming a mother 18 months ago.
Only to Melbourne, mind you, but it might as well have been Nepal, the way I felt about it.
I booked it months ago, when a favourite band announced an Australian tour.
By then I'll be ready, I thought. No longer would I be feeding, or getting up all hours of the night - my son (and husband) could manage his bedtime and morning without me - 24 hours of freedom!
On Wednesday, D-day, I was perfectly calm until the airline texted to tell me my 2pm flight wouldn't leave until 5pm. There went three hours of my trip. That's an eighth of it, I thought angrily.
I cursed and then tried to focus on the mantra of changing what you can, and accepting what you can't. I look for a silver lining ... the best I can do is figure that on a 5pm flight, a swift G&T is more acceptable.
So instead of beginning my journey by leaving home at 12.45pm, I had a relaxing lunch with my son and three of his grandparents, then a stroll to the park where I managed to get both the top and bottoms of my travelling outfit dirty (deep breath).
The trousers took some brushing; the top was changed and then I was off to the airport at last. Hurrah!
By the time I've checked in and am seated in the departure lounge, I'm sweaty, tired and can feel a migraine coming on. All of Launceston is there, and shouting. It's going to be a long night.
When at last I'm belted into my seat on the plane, there are three babies wailing somewhere behind me, and instead of rolling my eyes, I feel a pang of tenderness for them. Then I catch a glimpse of two gorgeous little girls in the seats behind me, aged maybe three and five, and I suddenly feel really sad - why I am going away without my little man? What if the plane goes down?
But, after a night of silliness at a gig where I scream the words until I'm hoarse, I get up at the crack of dawn (useful Mum skill #25) and cram in breakfast with a friend, shopping on Chapel Street and a photo-shoot with my brother (by which I mean propping my point-and-shoot on a boxed set of Friends atop a clothes horse), all by 11.30am.
And all of which I achieve via taxi, tram and train (with excellent instructions), assuming at some stage I will end up in the wrong place, but don't.
On the plane home, it's the tough Aussie bloke next to me who grimaces when the plane starts to buck with turbulence. I just smile back and flip through the pages of the (other) airline's in-flight mag and think, where to next?