Valentine's Day, 1969, started as usual. After breakfast I skipped upstairs to get ready for class, and there on my table was a little bouquet of daffodils. A blue piece of airmail stationery was folded and propped up with a note that said Zu die Marty für Valentine's. I remembered my solicitation for flowers and knew Dee was the delivery boy.
My roommates came in and the news traveled quickly around the hotel. I was a celebrity . . . a very minor celebrity, but we didn't have any others that day, so it was exciting.
Dee met me on the stairs, and I asked quietly, "Was it you?" He nodded, I gushed and blushed and we walked to class. At lunchtime there was an incident. A guy in our group, (who wore bright turquoise levis, by the way) was offended that someone had singled me out. He said we should be careful not to pair off; we should just be a big, happy family during our semester abroad. He didn't want anyone to feel left out, so he had a big bouquet of flowers with a card that said, "To all the girls, from all the boys." There may have been a few who were touched by this gesture, but I privately thought it was lame. Besides, I liked being singled out.
That night at dinner I looked around anxiously, having planned all day how I would casually sit down by Dee and flirt a little. He didn't come. Maybe he was embarrassed by all the notoriety.
Getreidegässe and bought gloves, scarves and hats, took pictures of the horse baths, and looked inside a few churches. I was distracted—shivery, weary and queasy. I hadn't received any mail from home yet, and suddenly six months seemed like forever. The novelty was past, washing my clothes in the basin was a pain, my bed was lumpy and I wanted my mom. Homesickness was new to me and it was awful. My heart started racing, I felt dizzy and like I was going to throw up.
Looking back, I think I had a panic attack. Realizing that I couldn't call, or get in touch with anyone I loved, thinking that someone could die while I was gone . . . all the emotions of being far from home for the first time overwhelmed me. Plus, I figured I'd blown the whole daffodil surprise completely out of proportion. Obviously Dee wasn't even going to talk to me again. It was a pretty miserable day.
After they got to the ski area, Dee made sure everyone could get along OK, and then took his first ride up the lift. At the top he saw our buddy (the turquoise levi boy) laying in the snow, bleeding profusely. Getting off the ski lift, he'd stabbed himself in the leg with his ski pole.
Dee got the ski patrol and then stayed to translate, skiing down with the stretcher. He ended up riding in the ambulance back to Salzburg. It was his only experience on mountain curves at high speeds—his ski day was over.
The next afternoon, I was studying when Dee knocked on my door. He suggested walking down the hall to a little office. When we got there, he said he'd been anxious to apologize to me. He was afraid the daffodils had offended me! I quickly assured him that I was thrilled to get them, and we started talking. I told him about being homesick, and how I missed my family, and all about them. I thought later what a great conversationalist he was . . . he just listened and let me talk about myself for two hours! How cool can a guy be?
There was a poem on a calendar on the wall, and I asked Dee to translate it.
"You are mine, I am thine. This must you always remember. You are locked inside my heart, and the tiny key is lost. You must stay inside forever."
Our hearts were opening to each other. We were getting ready to invite each other in, and we were completely unaware of what that would mean . . . forever.