I'm In Australia !
Deanne and I decided to surprise my Mum and Dad by sending me on a two week to Australia ! It's just me, though, because Deanne has so much responsibility at work with her promotion to Product Line Manager. I haven't been back home since we emigrated in July 2000, so there will be a lot of catching up to do with friends and family...and lots of baby names to learn !
The trip itself went smoothly, starting with a 5.25AM flight out of Florida, then to LA, then Tokyo, then Melbourne. I had to go via Tokyo because that's all that was available. It wasn't too hard to pass time on the flights - I had two seats to myself on both of the long flights (about 12 hours each) and I had a good book and good movies to watch.
When the taxi dropped me at Mum and Dad's house around 10 AM I left my bags by the front door, knocked, and stepped around the corner. He answered and I waited a few seconds, then slowly stepped out to see his stunned face, mouth wide open. Big hugs and a few tears and laughs later we settled down and had a little drink and waited for Mum to come home from her weekly bridge game. She sometimes goes to lunch afterwards, but thanks to Dad's cousin Rose (who knew I was coming) inviting herself over for lunch she had made sure Mum would be here to see me nice and early.
When she got home and beeped the car horn so Dad would open the garage for her, Dad, Rose and her husband Ray all went outside to say hello. Instead of lifting the door though, Dad just hit it and said "Open Sesame !" She looked at him like he was crazier than usual, but when he hit it again, the door slowly lifted to reveal a set of skinny hairy legs...then khaki shorts...then a blue and white baseball shirt...and then me ! The car lurched forward as she was so shocked that she'd tapped the accelerator instead of the brake !! "Whoah !" says Dad and Mum just stopped the car, got out and gave me a big, big hug. It was really nice to be able to surprise them both - thanks Rose and Ray !
Australia hasn't changed much since I left, of course, but it was interesting to see what I'd forgotten that I'd forgotten. The soft curve of the blue taps in our bathrooms, the earthy, salty smell of the creek behind our house, and how closely packed all the houses are in our suburb. Everything looked a little smaller than I remember too, but it seemed cosy and comfortable to be home again. I'm very happy to be back for a while.
I went back to Westgate Concert Band, a community band that I was involved with for more than ten years. I turned up un-announced, as it gets a good reaction and there were a lot of wide eyes when I walked in. But it got better ! They were just about to rehearse a vocal duet from Phantom of the Opera, "That's All I Ask of You", but the male singer hadn't shown up. No sooner had I sat down to listen to the band rehearse than conductor Roy Hamilton put the music in my hand and said "Can you sing that ?" Wow...two minutes after walking in after four years away, I've got a microphone in hand and warming up to sing a duet ! It went really well, with harmonies and everything - what a great way to walk back into band ! Roy said afterwards he'd just been wishing I was there because it was the kind of song that would suit my voice...and then I walked in :) ! I said hello to everyone afterwards, of course, and played trumpet in the second half of the rehearsal. It's a great feeling to be part of a group again, musically speaking, and I was surprised at how quickly everything came back to me. I'm going again next week and hopefully some of my old friends who weren't there this time will be there.
In the afternoon I helped Dad get set up for his show at the golf club, and met all his friends there - very nice people indeed. He's got a nice setup for doing a show; karaoke machine, speakers, amplifier etc, but Mum and I were feeling too tired to make it to the actual show. But he's doing another one today in Yarraville, so Mum and I will be there for that one. We also stopped by to see my Uncle Percy and Aunt Carmen in their beautiful new house. He's doing a really nice display of Christmas decoration, so watch out for when you drive by !
Lastly I want to thank my wife, Deanne, for her support in getting me to Australia for this visit. She's got a lot to take care of while I'm away and I really appreciate what she's doing for me, Mum and Dad.
I'll start calling some friends today and organizing lunches, dinners and large amounts of drinking (in at least one case) to catch up.