Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day which we say good-bye

I dreamed about a girl being attacked by a shark. Someone had filmed it. The film showed her poking at the shark, trying to annoy it so he'd let go.

I had hoped to sleep in a little that morning, since I needed to catch up on sleep. But Jack and I both woke up around 6:30.

It was the day we'd have to say good-bye.

I kept having this irrational fantasy. Tracey and her family would end up staying a few more days. Maybe they'd even stay for another week. I knew it was silly, but I couldn't help hoping.

This was a harder good-bye than the Tasmanian one. In Tasmania, there had been the possibility of them coming to Sydney in a few weeks. We all knew this good-bye would involve a much longer separation. We weren't coming to back to Australia for two years. There was talk of them coming to America, or us all meeting in Hawaii. But it seemed more like fun dreamy talk--wouldn't that be cool if......

I got a message from my friend Suzanne. She had kept pushing up the visit because of health issues. Originally, she was supposed to come the weekend before Tracey came. Then she was supposed to come on Sunday. That didn't work. Now it was Monday. And she was finally on her way! That cheered me up somewhat. We'd be losing Tracey and her family. But Suzanne would be here, and she's one of my best friends. I think the only thing I worried about was that she'd come WHILE Tracey was still here. I do love for my friends to meet each other. I like my friends to be friends with each other. I love to have a circle of friends rather than a bunch of individual friends who don't know each other. But this was one case where I made an exception. Suzanne is one of my best friends. We've never met each other in real life, though. I think meeting for the first time is a pretty intense thing. I didn't want to be meeting her for the first time while also trying to say good-bye to Tracey and her family. I wasn't sure I could handle that. There'd be too many emotions going on at once.

I have, in my notes, that there was more scary bushfire news; a threat of another Black Sunday type thing. Did that ever happen? I can't remember. I know there were more fires, but I'm guessing the extreme horror of Black Sunday wasn't repeated.

Tracey and her family checked out of their hotel and brought their luggage to our apartment. Then we walked to Darling Harbour for the aquarium. Tim had gone for a run and still needed to take a shower. He walked over by himself. Tyrone and Alex went to return a defective Korean lock. So Jack and I walked with just Tracey, Tara, and Molly. We'd meet the others at the aquarium.

We stopped at a bank. Tara and Jack sat at a table and practiced their writing. It was really cute.

Molly gave Tara and Jack old cards that she didn't need anymore. She gave Jack her old bus pass. I'm not sure what she gave Tara. Jack was so excited about it. I'm not sure why. I have a whole damn drawer full of old passes for him to play with. I guess Molly's stuff is more exciting.

Jack pretended the card was a credit card and had so much fun with it.

We all kept walking. We ran into this cute little cupcake shop. You can get mini-cupcakes. We all indulged a bit there. I thought the cupcakes ended up looking better than they tasted. I kind of remember Molly being disappointed in hers as well.

We got to the aquarium.

We were meeting Michelle there, along with her sons Gabriel and Hugo.

Jack and I had passes to the aquarium. Everyone else did not. And we probably all gawked at the price. It's expensive to just get a single ticket. Tim tried to figure out what to do. He wasn't a fan of the aquarium. I mean he liked it. But for him, he had enough of it in 2007. This year he usually opted out of aquarium and animal places. However, it was our last day with Tracey's family. I don't think he wanted to miss out on these last hours with them.

We paid and went in.

It was crowded!

I don't know what the deal was at Darling Harbour in those weeks. The previous Monday had been very crowded as well. I thought February in Australia (at least during the week) would be fairly empty. Maybe not empty. That's kind of an unrealistic dream. But I did expect much less people.

When we first got into the aquarium, they took our picture. It's a thing they do now. They take everyone's picture when they enter. This must be new because they didn't do it to us in 2007.

Here is the photo.

The photographer snapped the picture. We smiled innocently not at all realizing the significance of this one photo.

It would be the only photographic memory we have for that weekend together.

The aquarium was nice, but it was hard keeping up with everyone. It's hard to walk through crowds, try to talk to your friends, and also at the same time make sure your child has not gone missing.

There was a lot of: Tim, do you know where Jack is? Where'd Tara go? Have you seen Gabriel?

Tim went crazy taking photographs and videos. He drives me nuts when he does this. It's fine to take multiple photographs with a digital camera. That's the beauty of having one. The problem is he doesn't edit the photos. If it wasn't for me, he'd just upload all of them. To me, it's easier to edit in the camera rather than having to delete photos once they're online. Or maybe that's my personal preference. Either way, I'm the one left editing. I'm the one having to decide, out of the twenty giraffe pictures, which one should we keep. And....

Sometimes I end up deleting the wrong photo.

I deleted his favorite emu picture.

See, Jack takes tons of photos too....usually just for fun. He doesn't care if I delete them. Once in awhile, he'll tell me he has a favorite and asks me not to delete it.

Anyway, so Tim was going crazy with the camera. I tried to ignore it. I figured he was bored and this was the way to keep himself occupied. I do remember hoping that he was taking more photos of our friends than fish.

But now none of that matters anyway.

He did take some awesome video of the sharks being fed. I sometimes wonder what happened to our photos and videos. My biggest hope is those pictures still exist somewhere, and there's someone out there trying to find us. If not, though.... Let's say someone stole the camera. I wonder if they bothered to look at our pictures and watch our videos. I'm hoping if they deleted them all that they felt at least a twinge of guilt and regret.

Oh well.

While at the aquarium, I got a message from Suzanne. She was feeling sick again and was going to stop off and have a sleep before driving again. She'd leave for Sydney on Tuesday morning. I think I was a little worried but not much. I figured she'd have her rest, be better, and we'd see her tomorrow. It gave me something to look forward to.

We finished up our aquarium time with a visit to the gift shop. Jack found a pen that wrote in even more colors than the last pen he had found. He bought it with his allowance. Tara got a big turtle stuffed animal.

Michelle had to leave so she didn't join us for lunch. I didn't have to cry for her, because we'd see her again later in the week.

We ate at the Lizard Lounge which is close to the aquarium. You have to order food at the counter. We were all kind of going back and forth between the counter and our table. I remember at some point I was alone with Tara at the table. She held her turtle, and I took a picture of the two of them. That's the last photo I remember taking.

We had a fairly nice lunch. The company was good at least. The food was okay...nothing to rave about.

Now earlier in the day, and maybe a few times during the weekend, I had mentioned that amazing ice-cream place that Jack and I had found. I said maybe we'd run into it, and they could try it. I wasn't even sure of the name honestly. Passion something? I knew we had found it on the way to Darling Harbour. The problem is I always took a random route over there. So, I wasn't sure what street we had seen it on. I did remember it being somewhat near the QVB.

I sort of hoped we might run into the passion-whatever on our way back to the apartment. It seemed possible. But it turns out everyone else wanted to do more than just hope. I guess I had mentioned the ice-cream place enough times to make them interested. We started to actively search for it. Tim went on his TomTom and looked it up. PassionFlower.

TomTom said it was on George Street. We walked along George Street. At one point, Jack wanted his magic Molly credit card. He asked me to get it out of the backpack. I did a brief look, but then told him it was better to look for it when we got to the ice-cream place. I didn't want things falling out of the backpack while we walked.

Eventually we found Passionflower. I was a little apprehensive. I had gone on and on about how wonderful this place was. What if none of them liked it? What if they were disappointed in it? Did I put us through all this work for nothing?

Now this is the place where you're not allowed to eat inside if you've ordered take-out. I think I might have quietly mentioned this to Tim. I don't remember what he said, or if he even heard me. I might not have even said anything. I might have just thought it to myself.

I remember them asking though if we wanted to eat in or take out. Tim said we wanted to eat there. But when the guy started handing us menus, Tim said we just wanted to get ice-cream. They put the menus back.

We all ordered. I remember Jack got sticky rice. I got red bean something. I think Tim got the black sesame. I think Tracey got the Jaffa. Jack says Tara might have too. Jack thinks Tyrone got orange sherbet. He has no memory of what Molly and Alex got.

We tasted a few things. I tried the Durian. I've heard a lot about that flavor. It's supposed to taste quite weird. And it did. It tasted like cheese to me. I can't say I loved it, but I'm glad I tried it.

I think those who already got their ice-cream sat down while the others finished getting their ice-cream; someone paid, etc.

Then we were all sitting, eating our ice-cream in cones and disposable cups. The Passionflower staff watched us nervously. I had a bad feeling. They then told us that we were not allowed to sit there since we had take-out. Tim argued politely that he had told them we were eating in. I think they then said that in order to eat inside, you need to order from the menu. It turns out that the menu prices are much more expensive. Tim offered to pay the difference so we could stay. But I think some of the rest of us were annoyed with this rule and said forget it. We're not paying extra. We saw some stairs next door. We figured we'd all just sit there.

We left and sat down on the steps. Everyone bickered about how horribly rude Passionflower was. I felt embarrassed, because I was the one that had suggested it in the first place.

A few minutes later, a security guard came out. He was very nice and apologetic but said we weren't allowed to sit there. Then he was kind enough to inform us that there was a food court right next to Passionflower. We went there and sat down.

I realized we needed napkins and decided to go back to Passionflower to get some.

I was mad by this point. I was feeling bitchy. So I said to the woman who worked there. Can we have some napkins, or do we need to pay extra for them? I used a very polite and calm tone, but still.....

Oh! You should have seen the look she gave me. Yikes. She just GLARED at me. She did give me the napkins, though.

I went back with the napkins feeling triumphant and clever. I bragged about what I had said. Ha! I had gotten my revenge through clever bitchiness.

We all complained more.

But then Tracey said something like, Yeah, but this IS really nice.

And I realized she was so right. I don't care how expensive and rude Passionflower is. Their ice-cream is fabulous. I sat there thinking why the hell was I rude to that woman? We have almost a week left here, and now we can't return.

It all reminded us of The Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. The question is: Is there food that's good enough to make us willing to put up with rude service?

My feeling is Passionflower's rule in itself is not that horrible. I mean I think it's a bit stingy. You must pay extra to eat at our tables. I think they need to be more explicit about their rule. When Tim said we just wanted ice-cream, they should have said Okay, but the only way you can sit at our tables is to order from the menu. Then we could have made an informed decision.

The most rational and polite thing for them to have said is We're sorry. You can't eat at our tables if you don't order from the menu. But don't worry. There's a food court right over there.

Because there's a food court right there, it really isn't a big deal if we can sit inside the restaurant or not. So, why the hell did they not tell us that? That's what I don't understand. The only thing I can think of is that they truly ARE extremely greedy. They don't want people to know about the food court because they WANT people to pay extra to sit down. If that's true, shame on them. Who cares how good their ice-cream is? It's good. But not that good.

I personally would rather go to a restaurant that has good food and very friendly service than a place that has super delicious food and very rude service. That's just my own personal preference, though.

After we ate, we walked back to the apartment. I remember feeling sad. There was just a general sense of melancholy.

Tracey and I had a deep discussion while we walked. She told me something that made me angry and very sad. I remember having tears in my eyes. It wasn't the last time that would happen that day.

We got to the apartment and waited around for a little while.

I remember Molly and Alex drank some cans of weird Asian drinks.

Then we all left for the train station. I remember I didn't bring my backpack which is a little unusual. I usually bring it everywhere. I just took my keys and that's it. Maybe I took my phone too?

There was something so sad about it....all of us walking with the luggage.

Tara took my hand and we walked together. That was very special to me.

We got to the train station and went inside.

I felt very emotional, but I felt there might be a chance I could hold myself together.

We all exchanged hugs.

Then I got to Tara. I don't know why but that hit me the hardest. I remember hugging her and not being able to talk. I knew if I opened my mouth to speak, I'd start bawling. So my good-bye to her was silent.

As they walked through the turnstile, I fought back my tears.

We watched them go.

Then Jack suddenly ran away from me and Tim and rushed to the turnstile. He threw his arms around Tara.

Oh shit. That got to me.

I'm crying now as I write this.

I honestly think this was one of the most emotional good-byes I've ever had.

Tim, Jack, and I left the train station. I think we walked through Hyde Park. Maybe this is when Jack and Tim climbed on a tree.

I think we were all sad, but we were trying to be okay.

We talked about what we'd do next. I think the plan was to return to the apartment, go grocery shopping, and then return to Hyde Park.

At one time, Tim said we should have brought our Travel Passes to the train station. Then we could have rode with them part of the way. I said yeah, but we'd have to say good-bye sometime. We joked about how we probably wouldn't. We'd probably end up paying extra to take the train all the way to the airport. Then we were so damn attached to them, we'd probably just buy a ticket to Tasmania.

Yeah, we'll just join you on the plane! We'll say good-bye at the Tasmania airport.
So probably good that we hadn't brought our train tickets with us......

I don't have any memories of what we did next.

The next thing I remember is us returning to Hyde Park. I saw a woman bending down near a trash can. I asked Tim what she was doing. He told me not to look. She was vomiting. And you know me and vomiting......

I was really grossed out.

It did make me think about something, though. She was throwing up in the bushes. So....if you have to vomit in public, what's the best place to do it? Is it best to do it in the bushes where people aren't likely to step? But then no one might see it and it might sit there for a really long time. Is it better to splatter right in the middle of the sidewalk? Yeah. It's in the way of everyone. But it's explicit. People like me can see it and avoid it.

I don't know.

I think I was traumatized though.

Vomit does that to me.

We went to the hill where we had sat during the food and wine festival. It was so empty without Gina, Tracey, Tyrone, Molly, Alex, and Tara.

I had promised Jack that I'd try rolling down the hill. Before I had excused myself from the task because I had been wearing a dress. Now I had shorts on though.

I rolled down the hill, feeling a bit germaphobic. What if the woman had vomited elsewhere in the park. What if someone else had stepped on it and walked on this very grass I was rolling on.

Yeah. I really do have a phobia here......

While I rolled down the hill, Tim sat there watching with the backpack. He decided he wanted to take a photo of Jack and I being silly together.

Next thing I knew, he called out. Hey. The camera's not here.

No panic from me yet.

I figured it was in the wrong pocket. OR....I had probably just left it in the apartment.

No big deal. People don't lose two cameras on one holiday. Totally impossible! It just doesn't happen.

He searched through the backpack.

No luck.

Okay, I started thinking this might be bad.

I still had hope about the apartment, though. I had vague memories of taking the camera out at some point. I had asked Tim to upload the photos. Yeah, that was it. No worries.

Tim said we should keep rolling and having fun. He'd go back to the apartment and get it. All would be fine.

But then a lot of time passed and I didn't hear from him.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I knew this was bad. If I had taken the camera out, it should have been in a place that was easy to find. And then I started thinking that it wasn't today I had taken the camera out for photo uploading. That had been yesterday.

Things were not looking good for us.

I think Jack and I went back to the apartment.

I was not in a good mood by that point. I was sad and worried.

Our biggest suspicion is that we had left the camera at The Lizard Lounge. That's the last time I remember taking a photo. Tim went online to get their phone number. But they were already closed. He decided to run over and see if some workers were still there.

Jack and I stayed behind in the apartment.

At one point, my child cheerfully announced that I should look what he had done. The kid thought he had done something brilliant and I'd be incredibly pleased.

Instead I was a mean mom and snapped very angrily at him.

He had drawn on the aquarium photo. He had wrote the names of each person on top of the photo and then drawn lines and arrows to the corresponding person. Now I look at it and think it's absolutely adorable. It makes the photo a million times better....even though poor Michelle has a line going through her face.

But at that point, I was absolutely furious at him. I knew by this point there was a good chance we'd never find our camera and the photos. This is all we had; plus a small postcard of the same photo.

Poor Jack was very hurt. He had thought I'd be pleased, and instead I was angry.

I tried to explain my point of view. How would he feel if I drew all over his Fudge-a-Mania book? Just the thought of that, made him angry at me.

He had thought what he had done was great, but now that I was angry he decided it wasn't so great. He wanted me to buy him a new photo. That made me even more angry. I said the photos are very expensive. He made the mistake. He'd have to live with the consequences. I reminded him that he had liked the drawn-on photo a few minutes ago. He told me now he had changed his mind.

It was all a mess. I felt angry. And I felt guilty for being angry. I hated that I had made Jack sad. And I felt like a failure as a mom. I felt like a failure as a human being. I'm the one who had made the biggest mistake. I'm the one who lost a camera twice. Tim had been so forgiving about that. And here I am losing my temper with my child.

We made up fairly quickly. We had cuddles. I gave a little lecture on how for now on we need to ask if we plan to write/draw on anything besides paper. Jack agreed to all of this.

We were still sad, though.

Our friends were gone.

Our camera was gone.


Before or after the photo incident, I got a phone call from Suzanne. It was the first time I've ever spoken to her on the phone. Unfortunately, she called with bad news. She was feeling very sick and would not be able to make it to Sydney. Not only was I disappointed, but I was also very worried. She was staying in Albany with a friend which is hours away from her home in Ballarat. She was going to stay another night and then drive back in the morning. It scared me because she was not in good health. I wished her husband would find a way to pick her up, but she said that was unlikely.

Oh lord....

What a day.

But as Tim says to me, when you go on a long holiday, you can't expect everyday to be a good one. There's going to be some boring days and there's going to be some sad days.


Tim returned without our camera. Lizard Lounge had been closed, but he had gone to the aquarium or Wildlife World to talk to them. They were very nice and told him it was best if he talked directly to the Lizard Lounge. They told him they had some kind of safe where they keep stuff that has been found.

We still had hope we might find it tomorrow, but I was doubtful.


  1. Oh sweetie...

    Such a sad day... and yet so wonderful to spend it with such lovely friends.

    And that Mummy-guilt when you snap at your child because YOU are feeling stressed and unhappy! It's awful. Still, I think that it's okay because there was a real message there... it wasn't okay for Jack to draw on YOUR things. Soundsl like, sweet soul that he is, that he understood it.

    I wish I could have given you a hug on that day. Sounds like you needed it.

    And the SHOCK of losing a second camera. Unbelievable.

    Oh... and I am boycotting PassionFlower. Forever. For you.

  2. What were we talking about on the way back that made you sad/mad? lol..I can't remember now!

    Passionflower - yes my sentiments exactly. I couldn't believe that there was a food court RIGHT there..they even have a door leading to it and told us we would have to go out on the street.I remember Tim buying the teenagers Krispy Kremes for the trip home, that was so thoughtful and lovely.

    I loved meeting Michelle. She was so so lovely. It was a great morning.

    The good bye was so hard for us all. We felt so flat and blah for days.

    The camera :-( I will never again not pull my camera out and take photos and think to myself "ohh I don't need to take any as I can just copies from Dina and Tim". We'd have had memories to look at if I had not have been so lazy :-(


  3. I don't think we have Passion Flower in Melbourne and I am fairly certain we don't have ice cream parlours with two price scales. Phulease, it is ice cream, not a five star meal. Given the single photo taken by a photographer, I guess you did not get the camera back. (I was about to be critical, but better that I wait for the next installment)

  4. Oh, and yeah. The vomit would be cleaned up overnight by possums or some critter.

  5. Fe: Yeah. I feel so bad when I snap at Jack. But I think you have a point. He shouldn't have drawn on the photo. The photo did belong to all of us--not just me. Jack knew that. I think he just hadn't understood that you don't draw on something that belongs to everybody. I actually told him I don't want him drawing on ANYTHING besides paper (even his own stuff) without asking me first. I don't want to go into his room one day and find he has doodled on everything!!

    I think I needed a huge hug that day. Thank you : )

    I'm touched by your plan to boycott Passionflower. It IS really good. Although it's kind of creepy too. And they ARE rude.

    Tracey: We were talking about Tara's relationship with her grandparents. I thought that was really sad : (

    I forgot about the donuts!

    I remember when you left, I kept thinking about Hawaii. We kept talking about it. But I didn't know you guys were seriously considering it. Then we emailed each other and you mentioned looking at houses in Hawaii. I was so happy to hear that!!!!

    Andrew: Critical? Why are you going to be critical?

    Thanks for the vomit info. That makes me feel better!!! I agree about the ice-cream. Having two price scales is very greedy/ least I think so.

  6. I don't think you were all that rude to the girl. It was a pretty fitting comment.

    I have infinite patience when it comes to poor service, but on the rare occasion I actually let a zinger out...ouch. Sometimes I feel bad, most of the time I don't.

  7. Rebecca,

    Thanks : )

    I think I would have felt worse if the woman seemed embarrassed or something. But she didn't. She just looked scary.

    Who know though. Maybe she's really nice and just has a rough exterior or whatever. You never know.

  8. Never thought I'd have a discussion on the etiquette of vomitting, but since you brought it up. No pun intended, but I'll take it. :^)

    Please, not on the street. That is truely gross. As efficent as one hopes local council is on keeping the streets clean, it can be there for days. Find a shrubbery and let the animals take care of it.

  9. stephen,

    Thanks for the vomit advice!