(If you missed part one, you can read it here.)
Oddly enough, at age 25, I was not looking for a romantic relationship. I had been disillusioned by the dating game, and was content with my job at the Christian school. My delightful fourth grade students (27 that year) were more than adequate substitutes for having children of my own. I had some friends with whom I could hang out, and was mostly independent. Yeah, well, I still lived in my parent’s home. With my gross salary around $6,000 per year, it was a viable option. And yet, those beautiful red roses perfumed the house even as I resisted their implication.
On Monday, I took a rose or two and put them in a vase on my desk. The students noticed and asked questions, of course. But there was little to say about them at the time. Full time teaching leaves little time for daydreaming and speculation.
I wrote a letter to Harry thanking him for the roses, and told him that they were beautiful. Then, I added that they had arrived on April Fool’s Day, and waited.
Email was not widely used at that time, so our correspondence always went snail mail. Air mail, to be more exact. Harry’s reply came in short order. He was, in fact, a tad miffed with whoever was responsible for delivering the roses on April first. He explained that he had asked that they be delivered a week earlier, for Easter. On March twenty-fifth. It was an explanation that didn’t answer my real question. But, then, I hadn’t asked my real question. He had signed off on the letter, “Love, Harry” — for the first time. So, then I had two questions. Given that the whole of my senior year in high school when we were dating, Harry had not used more than maybe 250 of his words at most over the course of the year, I might have made an educated guess. But, I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to know the answers.
|School is over, oh! what fun!|
Anyone who teaches (or has taught) school knows that once April Fool’s Day is past, the school year runs down to the end in a blink. Achievement tests are added to report cards. Students are already feeling the euphoria that the freedom of summer will bring; it all contributes to the general mayhem.
Harry began writing more frequently, and always signed his letters: “Love, Harry.” I enjoyed hearing about life in Portugal, and continued to reply to his letters. They seemed to be coming more often. Sometimes I’d wonder where he had been keeping all of those words the year that we dated. Occasionally I’d catch my dad looking at me in a forlorn tone of “voice.” After the roses arrived, he, at any rate, had no doubts whatsoever about what Harry meant! And he was feeling a bit depressed about the whole thing.
In early June, I opened a very thin, light envelope with a letter from Harry in it. He wrote that the missions team would be taking a group of Portuguese teens to Germany for camp, and asked me to come along. He said that he would pay my expenses while I was there, and asked me if I could buy my airline tickets. (His salary was also bare bones.) It was my turn to have no words. But I had the feeling we might be getting closer to the answers to my questions.
Next installment: here