Saturday, February 10, 2007

Love Story Chapter 10: "Bis aufs Wiedersehn." Salzburg, 1969

It was time to wake up: the Salzburg Dream was over. (See all Salzburg posts.) Our semester abroad ended, the 14 final days touring Europe rolled into each other, and we flew home June 12th. Towards the end of our long flight, all 65 girls (it seemed) changed into our new dirndls, so we could greet our parents looking like a giant von Trapp Family. (The boys kept their dignity, with normal attire.) When the wheels of the plane touched down, the whole group cheered and some of us cried. We arrived very late, after midnight, and our families had been waiting for several hours. Dee's parents had already gone home. His mother had received a diagnosis of MS earlier that day, which must have been extremely upsetting. I can't remember who gave us that information, but we'd heard it by the time we found my parents. I assured Dee he could stay with us.

I had feared the big meeting with Dee and my parents, since our airmail correspondence had been so negative. I was excited to be home, and anxious for everyone to like each other. I flew into my dad's arms, and hugged my mom, and then introduced them to Dee. It was cordial, but stiff. Then I informed them that I had invited Dee to stay at our house since his folks had left. Their polite faces started slipping, and I suddenly felt defensive. In later years my mother would become very hospitable in this kind of situation, but it was the first time a stranger (to her) had ever stayed overnight. It was also the first time I had announced such an intention without asking first. We hadn't interacted like this before. Since I was the oldest child, it was new for our family, and a little awkward. I felt like I was walking into a stiff wind, but it worked out OK. It was great to see my family and sleep in my own bed. Dee slept on the family room floor.

Did you see Father of the Bride? It was so reminiscent of our experience. My dad was very suspicious of the new man in my life, and my mom was restrained. Emotionally, I had become a woman and they still saw me as a little girl. (It had only been 6 months...) I'm sure they assumed I would come home and everything would be the same, that I would be the same. I wasn't. I had allowed an intruder to become the biggest part of my life, leaving my family on the sidelines. None of us knew how to interact.

My mom had planned a special welcome home dinner for me with my grandparents, and I, of course, invited Dee. He was aware of the irony of his status (not at all welcome), and became reserved and quiet. This was a side of him I hadn't seen before and it made me nervous. My parents were not showing off very well, either, and I felt extremely tense and uncomfortable. Halfway through dinner something happened that I have never forgotten. My Grama leaned over the table and whispered (in a Grama whisper that everyone could hear) "Marty, he's real quality." I appreciated her so much at that moment! I needed approval and encouragement from someone I loved, and she had given the thumbs up.

So now reality set in. Although Dee lived only an hour away, it was as if we were on different planets. We were back in our parent's homes, without a car between us. Telephoning long distance was expensive and reserved for emergency 3-minute calls, so we had to write letters. After spending all day, every day, together, this was a shock and we were miserable. We had no income, work, or savings, and according to my dad, no future. My folks figured if they ignored the situation, it would go away. I had no one to talk to, or dream with. It felt like our whole romance had been imagined.
Dee immediately got 2 jobs, and I went back to work in my dad's Optometrist's office. Two weeks later, Dee surprised me at work, arriving in his new (used '67) light blue VW bug. He asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I got grudging permission from my boss, and we strolled around downtown, to the Assembly Hall. It was the middle of the afternoon, we were all alone in a beautiful room, and Dee told me he hated for us to be apart. He thought he had a solution to our difficult situation. He pulled a box from his pocket and there was a beautiful, antiqued diamond engagement ring. He figured we could get married in 2 months. "By then we'll be rich."
(We've been using this line now for 38's a good line.) I was overjoyed! It was for real.

We went back to my dad's office, but he'd left for the golf course. Dee drove me home and we just happened to pass my Grampa driving on the freeway! We pulled up close to him, honked and waved and I pointed to my new ring. He honked back, making cheering signs, grinning from ear to ear. My grandparents were awesome!

We got to my house, anxious to announce our news. Nobody was home. We talked and planned and waited. Finally, I heard my dad getting out of the neighbor's car. I ran out, flashing my diamond, squealing with delight. Dad took a look, opened the trunk to get out his clubs and went into the garage without a word. Mr. Glazier hugged me, shook Dee's hand, and congratulated us with exuberance. Dad walked into the house and got in the shower.

When Mom came home, she reacted with surprise and reluctant acceptance. Over the next few days she got excited about planning a wedding with all the trimmings. That was ironic, because I didn't want a wedding. I wanted a small dinner. I had always thought it would be silly to spend the biggest night of my life shaking hands with my mom's friends, and my dad's business associates. (This was a classic Marty/parent situation. I wanted my life one way, they wanted it another. They knew I'd be happier if I did it their way. Then I was considered "spoiled" when I didn't appreciate their efforts to do it their way. While I did appreciate the gesture, most of the time I didn't want it! It's hard to explain. I basically wanted to be respected enough to make my own choices.) But, whatever.... I was getting married!! Let mom plan her wedding and invite her friends. I was getting married!!!

Dad wouldn't talk about it for 3 days, and then he started suggesting that we wait a year, or at least until December. He said he couldn't afford a wedding so soon. (Why wasn't anyone listening to me??) By then, mom was talking dresses and florists, photographers and invitations, and eventually Dad realized it was happening with or without his approval. It actually took another year or so, and the birth of our first baby for Dad to accept this marriage. For the first several months when we visited my folks, Dee sat downstairs and read National Geographic because nobody would talk to him!

Although our engagement was short it seemed endless. Dee worked at a golf course and didn't get off until an hour after dark, so by the time he could get to my house it was 11:00 pm. We'd talk until 3:00 am, when he'd leave because his other job started at 8:00 am. This schedule allowed us to see each other only a few hours a week. In Salzburg we had studied, walked and talked, and now we wrote letters. The only real date we ever had was the day we went to get our marriage licence. We went to a movie afterwards, and as cheesy as it sounds, the movie was Sound of Music!

Our obsession and loyalty to all things Austrian can be traced to our beginnings. Our semester abroad in Salzburg was more than either of us had expected. While living in central Germany for 2 years, Dee had planned to return to Bavaria to study. As a sophomore in high school, I had a student teacher who introduced the idea of going to school in Salzburg. In our separate worlds we had both worked and saved until the perfect time and opportunity presented itself. It started as a dream and it became a dream come true.


kenju said...

This is a wonderful story. I do hope that your parents came to love Dee as you did!

"They knew I'd be happier if I did it their way. Then I was considered "spoiled" when I didn't appreciate their efforts to do it their way." That reminds me SO much of my mother!!

Stie said...

Aren't you glad you married him anyway? We sure are!

mama jo said...

and here you are...still happy after all those years...

gramakas said...

These stories about you and Dee "back in the day" could be used as material for a few more seasons of "The Gilmore Girls"!!!
Such drama... but with that "happily ever after" ending!

♥Maren said...

I love that you met on study abroad. So romantic! And that you saw Sound of Music... very sweet!