Stardate: November-December 1990
So this relationship had potential. It had a number of shared activities – dinners, concerts, the theatre, walks, and picnics. It had conversation. It had serious moments. It had laughter. It had chemistry. It had thoughtfulness – such as when Neil had met me for lunch after a most difficult morning (including both my major Education Department Interview and the funeral of a family friend) -sans the beard that I wasn’t too keen on.
What it lacked was time.
But I was determined to “Carpe Diem” and pack in as much as was humanly possible, until Neil was due to leave for America for “Exchange Studenting Mark II” at the end of January.
But I didn’t know the whole story.
Eventually, Neil admitted that he had a few other commitments. Firstly a week or so in Tasmania to do some Family History research of convict records on his Genealogist Mother’s behalf.
Secondly, he was meeting his Parents in New Zealand for …wait…back up?
It seems that Neil had figured, rather than not see his folks for an entire year, to fly them out to New Zealand and spend vacation time with them for a month, in-between his Student Terms.
So far, so logical. But… a month… ?
Well…Neil hedged. This had been scheduled and booked long ago and… well, he hadn’t planned on meeting a girl, and… “Why don’t you join us?” he offered brightly…
“Join us”? Meet the Parents? Travel to another country with this (admittedly charming, handsome, well spoken, interesting, charismatic) guy I barely knew?
What would my Mother say?
AND… this sounded awfully SERIOUS all of a sudden. What did this mean for this new romance?
I took a deep breath. (I was a cussed Young Lady).
Ohh Kay…I exhaled.
“Would you be able to give me ten good reasons why I should go to New Zealand with you and Meet Your Mother???”
“Hmm”, mused Mr. Organised. “I will need to think on that. Can I get back to you tomorrow?”
So “Tomorrow” we met up and went for a quiet walk. After a time we stopped, sat down on some large rocks under a tree, and he carefully extracted a multiple-folded piece of paper from his shirt pocket. I could see through the page it was a handwritten list.
And off he went.
ONE. New Zealand is the most beautiful country. You will not believe the scenery, the mountains, and the clean air.
TWO: You’ve worked hard all year at Uni. You deserve a break.
And on he continued. Lots of very good, valid, interesting reasons. To all of which I agreed: “Yes”.
Then he got to Number 7.
He looks over the paper and says…”I’m not sure if I can come up with the whole ten, but here’s a good one…”
I listen, am both shocked and delighted, and then say “Righto, you get Double Points for that one. Don’t worry about any more”.
We join hands and walk back towards Mum’s place.
The decision, in principle, is made.
So I start working through the entire Phone Book of travel agents and ask if there is any possibility of getting a flight from Adelaide to Auckland on….er … 27th December? One after another, they laugh. “No Way, Lady” says one. “”We’ve been booked out for months”. I become more and more creative …Wellington… Christchurch…via Melbourne?… not a sniff.
Finally I talk to the “Flight Centre” in town. The Manager listens to my story. At least he doesn’t laugh, but he’s not optimistic either. However, he does promise that should anything, by some fluke, come up, that he would let me know. I give him my contact details and privately decide to give up.
Ah well, it was a good idea at the time, I think.
I take Neil to the train station to catch the “Overland” to Melbourne, the first leg of his Tassie trip. Just for fun, I plant a lipsticked kiss on the outside of the window against which he is sitting. Later he tells me the mark stayed on for the whole journey, a little reminder of me. While Neil is away, we have our Breakup Party with our Grad. Dip. Ed. friends, which I have helped organise, in a local park. It seems strange that we will soon all be going separate directions.
Neil returns and we continue “Dating” (I guess). He comes over and helps decorate our Christmas tree, meeting my Grandma in the process.
My elder sister Jill is to be home for Christmas – making us four “girls” plus Grandma. I wonder if this will be the last time. Neil and I both enjoy the company of Martin and his family, delighting in “hooning around” in their Vintage “Dodge”.
One Sunday I even take him along to Church. He sits in the pew between my younger sister Stacey and I.
After the Service, the elderly ladies opine to Mum (in my hearing) that “Kylie’s Young Man” “Must be a Good Lutheran Boy” on the grounds that “He said the Lords Prayer and the Creed so confidently behind us” and “Has such a lovely singing voice”.
No hope of anonymity any more!
All this time, the clock is inexorably ticking, as Christmas gets closer and our time together seems to evaporate away.
Then one morning I receive a phone call. It is the nice chap from the Flight Centre, City Cross. “Kylie”, he says. “You won’t believe it, but I have had one cancellation on a flight to New Zealand. Are you still interested?”
“Which Flight?” I asked. “Flight ANZ 118 from Adelaide to Auckland on 27th December”, he answers.
“You’re not serious!” I exclaim. That was the exact flight on which Neil was booked!
“I can only hold it for you until noon”, he added, “then I am bound to put it on general sale. Would you let me know before then”? I quickly agreed and got off the phone, stunned.
Wow. Where to start?
First, I rang the Seminary, looking for Neil. He was in class. So I dictated a Cryptic Note to the student who answered the phone, asking him to affix it to Neil’s room Door, saying:
ANZ 118, December 27th, YES or NO?
Then I waited.
20 minutes later Neil rings. “YES! YES!” he exclaims.
I get in the Car and drive around to nearby Ridge Park where she is playing Tennis with the “Kindy Mums Tennis Club” (Note: formed when my elder sister Jill was in Kindy circa 1969, and still playing weekly 20 years later).
Mum comes off the court and I breathlessly explain the situation. I have my arguments prepared, if necessary.
She looks me searchingly into the eyes. Time seems to stop for a moment. She just knows this is important.
She simply says: “Yes. Now GO!”
I practically run back to the car, hang a left turn and drive straight to town, park up, and scoot into the Flight Centre.
There at the counter is Sarah, my delightful school friend. (Sarah, who has always been special to me, and has held a particular place in my heart since she made a point, a few years previously, of attending my Dad’s funeral to support me).
I briefly explained my purpose there, and she, too, is excited for me.
I confirm the seat and purchase the ticket.
The Cancellation. Mum. Sarah. These were signs. I knew it.
This was meant to be.