Journal of Alan Howard
Thursday - 6th December 2001
Holiday in Australia...
While I was in Australia, I kept a notebook with me all the
time and wrote in it each day. It's transcribed below.
(Photos have been placed in here to help accentuate the
description - 10th Dec.)
26 November, 2:35pm
After a relaxed morning of chatting with Kylie and a few final
emails with friends, I'm now sitting here at the Wellington
airport. I've got an hour and a half to wait for my
flight. I bought myself a CD walkman, but I can't pick
that up until I board the plane. I think I'll have to just
read a book or take some photos of people to keep myself from
28 November, 12:40am
My watch broke. I just noticed it as I went to check the
date and time for this entry; the day doesn't want to move.
<sigh> I hope it doesn't cost too much to fix.
Last night was fun! After having dinner with Peter and his
wife, we role-played (without his wife) for the night. A
friend of his, Ken, joined us for the game and it was a really
good night. We played Star Trek, the roleplaying game, and
I played an old character of mine who I last played some years
ago. He had started out as a lowly shuttle pilot (a
Lieutenant, junior grade), and in the years since I've played
him, he's still been active as an NPC (Non Player Character) in
the game, getting into a number of different missions and
experiences. He's gone up in rank and is now a Lt.
Commander, in command of a scouting/reconnaissance ship. I
had a great time...
Today Peter and I had a huge lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and
then played a computer game together until the evening.
He's been watching TV while I was phoning up my friends. I
don't get to speak to them too much on the phone over in NZ, so
it was a nice experience to do so tonight.
28 November, 11:30pm
Today has been pretty exciting... I got a plane this
afternoon to Canberra. I picked up a hire car that
I had booked, and they upgraded it for free (from a Toyota Camry
to a Mitsubishi Magna)! Awesome. I then drove to
Darlene's, and it was great to see her again. We chatted
for a while over a drink and then I went to have dinner with
Mel. That was great too, catching up with her. It
looks as if she's got Friday and Monday off work, so we're going
to try and do lots of stuff in the time that we've got.
I feel as if it's just not enough time.
Tomorrow's going to be full. I'm renewing my Aussie
driver's licence - which expires tomorrow! I'm having
lunch with Darlene and then another lunch with James. Then
I'm going to go see a movie (Training Day), then I'm taking
Darlene out for dinner tomorrow night.
Those are the plans. I wonder if that's how it'll be
29 November, 11:50pm
Happy birthday to me! This has been one of the best
birthdays I've had, and I didn't even do anything 'birthdayey'!!
I renewed my licence for another year instead of for five years,
'cause a NZ licence is valid in Oz as well, so I'll get one of
those for a while after I get back.
Had coffee with Darlene mid-morning, and then lunch with James.
I gave him some CD's to copy. Then I had lunch (again)
with Darlene. Then I bummed around town for a while,
having a really relaxing time drinking cold drinks and watching
the people, and enjoying just sitting back and actually being in
Canberra again. I soaked in the energy of the place, which
was really nice and relaxing. Then I had a fantastic
massage at my favourite aromatherapy massage place, and went
'home' after that to have a shower. Darlene and I went out
to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and after dropping her off
home, I went to pick up David and we saw Training Day.
Then I came home and wrote in this...
Over lunch today I had the opportunity to talk about the past
with Darlene. I've known that this holiday will allow me
to get the closure that I thought I needed, and so we spoke
about that. For the first time, I found out why she ended
the relationship. This didn't affect me as much as I
thought it might, probably 'cause closure has already happened
somehow, somewhere. I looked at photos yesterday of her
and her husband Jeff, and felt no remorse, unhappiness,
jealousy, etc. I was only happy that she was happy.
This has been good for me, 'cause now I KNOW how I feel, whereas
before I was curious and didn't know.
30 November, 12pm
I went to see Tiga this morning, and had a Tarot reading.
It was very interesting and enlightening. One of the
things that came up was that something will happen in 8-10
months that will cause me to return to Australia. Cool!
Tiga told me before Michelle came onto the scene last year that
I'd be travelling overseas. At the time I laughed, but it
happened. So I don't laugh any more...
2 December, 11:50am
Ok, the rest of Friday went something like this. I had
lunch with Mel and her family. Her dad's birthday is the
day after mine (his name is Alan too), and they were having a
birthday lunch at a Chinese restaurant which Mel invited me to.
Nice stuff, but I stayed away from the chicken feet!
After lunch, Mel and I went for a drive out into the country and
sat behind an old church and looked at the countryside, which
was really relaxing and enjoyable.
All photo thumbnails on this page will open a new browser window
when you click on them.
Mel behind the
with the binoculars
A tree behind the
Me behind the
not wanting a photo taken!
That night we went and had dinner at a restaurant - all my
friends were there. Peter C, David G, David N, James,
Jason, Shannon, plus a few others, which was nicely surprising.
After a bit of trial and error I worked out how to use the
camera with the flash, and I hope I got some good shots.
L-to-R: Shannon, David
N, David G, Peter, Simon, James, Me
Peter and his jug of margarita
Shannon, David N and
I got drunk that night and ended up getting to Darlene's at
about 3:30am, after visiting a number of different clubs and
pubs. Because I didn't have a key and the door was locked
at 2am (due to a pre-determined curfew), I slept in the car for
So that brings us into Saturday. I visited Bec, a friend
from before I left Canberra. We haven't been keeping in
touch and the friendship we had has died away, but it was still
good to see her again.
Mel and I went out again. We went to Cotter Dam and then
went to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and had a picnic while watching kangaroos.
Very relaxing, but we were short on time so had to go after
being there for only an hour or so.
| We returned to
civilisation and visited Estera. It was great to see her
and her son Michael. Man, he's growing so fast!!
Estera and me
After taking Mel back home, I drove to the coast and caught up
with Kath and her son Drew. On the way there, I had an
interesting journey... Because of my lack of sleep the
night before, the trip to the coast was done while very tired.
I realised that I was almost 'drifting' off to sleep at one
point, so I pulled over and just sat there and relaxed briefly,
getting myself out of the bored mode that I was in, which was
causing the drowsiness. It worked alright, but was only
temporary, 'cause it began again shortly after. Then I was
passed by a car going faster than me, so I used it as a shield
against speed radars and followed it at the same speed.
Because of the fact I was going faster than normal, the
concentration was much higher, and from that point on, I wasn't
tired at all! Hehehe.
Anyway, I ended up at Kath's place safely, which is just around
the corner from where Darlene used to live. Lots of
memories... Kath and I spent most of the night talking,
and then we went for a walk by the ocean. It was so good
to catch up with her. It's been over a year since I last
saw her, so there was lots to catch up on and so little time to
do so. Near midnight, a couple of friends of hers came
over and wanted us all to go out, but since I was knackered, I
declined. It was fun having them there, as they were half
drunk and in party mode, but I just couldn't be bothered going
out partying again.
Nick and I
I came back the next day and after having lunch with my friend
Nick, I went over to pick up Mel again.
We went out driving and saw some sights of Canberra from Black
Mountain Tower (lots of photos of Canberra from there), and then
had dinner and saw Training Day (second time for me, but it's a
Tomorrow is my last day here. My last opportunity to tell
Mel how I feel about her.
3 December, 6:15pm
After having another aromatherapy massage in the morning, I went
to pick Mel up and we went to the Botanical Gardens, where we
wandered around the tropical rainforest area.
After that, we
went into town and had a coffee with Darlene, which was
nice. It was the last time I'll see her again for a
while. I thanked her for letting me stay at her place, and
how great it was to see her and her kids again. We hugged
and said goodbye.
Mel and I went to Lake Burley Griffin. We were going to go
for a paddleboat ride on the lake, but they were closed, so we
just sat by the side of the lake and relaxed, before going to
the airport, where I was to fly out of Canberra. I was
Nearly two years ago, I met Mel for the first time. I was
attracted to her from the very beginning, but she was only
interested in friendship, so nothing ever eventuated. This
past week, however, has been really intense. I've spent so
much time with her and gotten to know her better than ever.
Events on Friday night helped me realise that I was interested
in more than just being friends. Trying to sort through my
feelings since then has just made me realise that I've fallen in
love with her. There's a number of problems though.
1) We live in different countries
2) Signs from her of being interested in more than
friendship have been ambiguous
3) When I expressed an interest in her when I first was
getting to know her, she said she only wanted friendship, so I'm
assuming the same is true today.
All of this has been going through my head since Friday. I
felt I couldn't tell her because of those issues, and I never
wanted to do anything that might spoil a friendship.
When I saw Kath, I tried to get some advice from her through
talking to her about this, but there was no resolution.
Today, as the afternoon progressed while in Mel's company, I was
becoming more and more conflicted about what to do. Leave
without saying anything, or risk her resentment by letting her
know how I felt?
"It's better to attempt something great and fail, than
attempt nothing and succeed."
So I told her - unfortunately it was 10 minutes before I boarded
the plane out of Canberra. I know it wasn't very fair on
her, but it took me that long to realise that I just needed to
say how I felt, and find the courage to say it. I
certainly felt a lot better afterwards for having said it.
Now, because I've had 3 days to think about this (since Friday
night), she's going to think about it as well, over the next 3
Interesting... I don't know what to expect, but I do know
nothing's going to happen between us for some time, if ever.
I'm sitting here in the departure lounge at Canberra airport.
Looking out the window, I'm extremely sad that I'm leaving
again. As I was looking out the window at Canberra a few
minutes ago, I almost started crying. Maybe I still
4 December, 10am
I'm on the plane back to Wellington. I've just left
Melbourne, where I met Sally for the first time (my very good
friend from ICQ who I'd never met until last night), and caught
up with Tricia, who drove me to the airport this morning.
She was the last of my friends that I saw during my visit to
Australia. Interestingly enough, I came into Australia and
stayed with Peter, who I first became friends with in 1992.
I left Australia after staying with Tricia, who I also met in
1992. Apart from Dan (who is in Brisbane and who I last
saw in March), those are my two longest serving friends.
And now it's today, and the transcribing is finished.
Out of all the times that I've been back to Canberra since I
moved to NZ last year, this was the first time that I felt like
staying. It was the first time that I thought about having
to come back to my home, to all my friends. Canberra is my
home, and it's where I need to be. Maybe Tiga was right,
that I'll be back there in 8 - 10 months. We'll just have