It’s not a vacation if you don’t have to go home at the end. This is the first trip I’ve been on that I would happily extend indefinitely, but once I see a date on a ticket my mind starts to prepare for the return journey. I’ve been ready for a while, but Melanie’s really unhappy with her job and feels like she’s got nothing to return to at home – she’s pretty much unconsolable. For my part I look back over my notes and I get a sense of the loose freedom of the first half of the trip gradually giving way to a more reserved appreciation of my surroundings as departure approached… leading up to now. We exchange tearful goodbyes with Eric and Cindy at the little Queenstown airport and pass through security, surrendering ourselves to the return itinerary. We’ll fly to Auckland, our only stop in the North Island, and change planes for the long haul to Los Angeles.
Eric and Cindy will stay another day in Queenstown and then spend a few days exploring the North Island. Today Eric will take that gondola up above town to bungy jump from a tower high above Lake Wakatipu.
In the upstairs food court at Auckland Airport I fill in the last page of my little journal book. My shoulder’s sore from lugging that heavy bag around, and I’m a little steamed about the surprise exit fee (NZ$20) – not a lot of money but nickle-and-diming people trying to get home leaves a sour taste. With the remaining space I ponder our job situations (Melanie’s unhappy and I “can’t say I’m feeling a love vibe” about my company) and commit myself to growing as a musician, working on the playing and singing and trying to find a public outlet, be it open mike nites or some kind of band. But spring is on its way back home in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means Melanie will plant some flowers and I’ll try to resurrect the lawn and fix the million things that break in the house; June will come and I’ll get to sit out on the back deck with the last traces of sunset late in the evening, at peace before the late summer bugs start their racket.
2000 will turn out to be a pretty big year for us. I’ll be the first to jump ship, landing a great new job within walking distance of our house. Melanie will find that elite position she always knew was waiting for her, and she’ll find that it’s not as stressful as she thought it would be. I’ll join two bands, record some studio demos and start to sing with a lot more authority. We’ll lose one awesome cat, but adopt a new little charmer who’ll fill the bathtub with toys when we’re not looking. Eric and Cindy will move from the West Coast to a spot near New York City within a few hours’ drive of our place. It’ll take a year of writing, tweaking and procrastination for me to put this whole story up on the web, and when I’m done I’ll feel that no matter what else happens to me from here on out, at least I’ve had the pleasure of chronicling this great trip.
Things are good.
Thanks for reading along. See you Down Under.
Silver Spring, MD
March 24, 2001