While we flew west across the Pacific and lost a day, I dozed off and on and listened to the “Erotica.” Classical music had been an acquired taste.
My wife looked over at me without joy. She wasn’t sure about this. It had been her idea to join the Peace Corps, but now that we were in the air, and it came down to leaving behind all she knew except me, she wasn’t sure.
But I hadn’t paid her much attention. Did she really want to turn back? Was I worth it?
She wasn’t sure. She grew up being overwhelmed about many things.
And this wasn’t what I was tuned into as I dozed off and on and listened to the “Erotica.” I was more interested in looking at the clouds as we followed the sun. It would be a long flight. I wasn’t interested in the in-flight movie, a silly flick I had already seen.
We were being sent to Philippines instead of somewhere in Africa because my draft board had been in hot pursuit of me. This was in 1969. I had been deferred to allow me to complete graduate school. I was working in a regional professional theater and going to school. It had been a very busy time, and that was why I liked it. My late nights meant my wife spent most of her nights alone in an apartment she never got use to, and she never felt safe there with all the comings and goings in the park in the neighborhood. In a real way she was glad to get out of there. There was never a better illustration of this than on the night she smelled cigarette smoke just outside our bedroom window. She had to also commute to school. This had been especially hard for her because she hadn’t been use to big-city traffic and had just learned to drive. On her first day at a new university she took one wrong turn and it took her all day long to find her way home. She never made it to school that day, and my first thought when she told me wasn’t that sympathetic. This made her feel very stupid. We knew we were different. I didn’t say much. I was too wrapped up in a production of one of my plays. It was all about me and I had classes in the morning and rehearsals in the afternoon while she drove a hundred miles both ways; and my evenings were filled with shows, one beginning as soon as one ended; and after performances, there was always homework.
That was how it was the first year of our marriage. We hardly had time to speak to each other. It’s hard to believe now; and that first year I don’t see how we made it as a couple. The production of my play went very well and people seemed to like it, no doubt because of Paul Baker who directed it, an honor for me as his student because he was the Managing Director of the theater and only directed one or two plays a season. That, believe me, was something else. I have to tell you I appreciate it all more now than I did then.
Now I want to go back to the plane ride. You must believe I was excited. But then how many times had I been out of the country? None. Or we may have walked across the border into Juarez on our hurried honeymoon. Peg had never been on an airplane before stepping on the one in Dallas that took us on the first leg of this journey that would last five years and take us around the world. There is a lot more about all this that I want to say, about the countries and the people, and the adventures we had, and the gifts from all of that we received. It will be impossible to remember everything now, and some things I’ll get wrong. Clearly I have my biases, good and bad, that a reader will have to put up with. There are also things I’d rather forget that I may not write about.