One summer, when I was in college, and facing the prospect of three months of boredom at Shannon Airport, I made a bold move, and got hired, with a little help from my Dad, by Aer Lingus at Kennedy Airport. I didn't know a soul in NY. When I arrived, a friend of Dad's organised an hotel room for me----and, having deposited me safely therein, airily waved goodbye! Seeing my horror-struck expression,[you're leaving me? Here?? Alone??? Waaah!] he assured me he'd see me at work the next day. When I got to my room I couldn't find the key to my suitcase. Consternation. I lay down on top of it and bawled my eyes out. And wondered why nobody had thought to dissuade me from such a hare-brained scheme. And thought longingly of the deadly boring job I'd had at deadly boring Shannon Airport the deadly boring previous summer. And bawled a little louder. And cursed my big mouth for ever asking my Dad to help me get a job in NY.
But I had to stifle my sniffles and show up for work. It was fun meeting and checking in passengers, and most of the summer hires were college students too. But Americans my age seemed so relaxed and at ease. I felt like a country bumpkin. Being of limited means, after that first night in the hotel, I spent the next few nights on the couch at Heather's apartment. Heather was a ground hostess from Dublin, another of Dad's friends. She was pretty and single, and to my bumpkin eyes, very glamorous and sophisticated. The second night I was there, a handsome pilot she knew was going to be in town. Oh dear. What a dilemma. A romantic evening in the offing for sure. With only one fly in the ointment. What to do about the Irish bumpkin on the couch, who didn't have a life? Or, more specifically, anywhere else to go, or anyone to go there with? Oy vey.
Heather was a rare bird, a Jewish Irishwoman. With Jewish friends. One of whom was pressed into service for the evening. He was male. And ugly. And free with his hands. And I hated him on sight. And Heather too, for so unceremoniously dumping me on him. And for whatever unfounded promises of ribald Irish sex she must have made to him. Because he certainly gave the impression he expected to be thusly compensated for babysitting me. All I remember of the evening is feeling the desperation of a hunted animal, fending off his persistent and slobbery advances, and deciding then and there that ugly, sex-crazed Jewish men were not my cup of tea.
Heather helped me find a room to rent in the house of an elderly Jewish woman. So I moved off her couch, leaving her free to entertain all the handsome pilots she could find. Mrs. Eliafson was a harmless old bird. Strict in her insistence that no young men were to darken the door of my room. They were to wait decorously in the entrance hall. Since hordes of lovesick suitors weren't exactly banging down the door, that presented no problem. Her only other requirements, apart from prompt payment of the rent, were that I do small chores for her, such as switching on the lights on the Sabbath! I was fascinated that even such a simple thing was forbidden, but happy to oblige.
Meanwhile, back at the airport, I'd made friends with two co-workers, MaryAnn and O. On our days off we had fun together. We went to Manhattan, shopping, or to Jones' beach, or to parties after work. Sometimes O's father, when he came to take her home, would give me a lift to my digs. He bragged a lot about his brainy son, O's twin brother, who was away at AF summer camp. In the fullness of time this prodigy returned, and got a summer job with Lufthansa, next door to Irish.
One day O's father came in to chat with us at the check-in counter. We were planning to go to a party that evening after work, and he wondered if his son could come with us. Since O had a date, this suggestion was aimed mainly at me. Being an agreeable, easy going person I said it would be fine. Besides, "party" gives such a jolly impression. The party venue was a nearby pub, where the music was usually deafening. I didn't exactly enjoy them. They were just a better alternative than going back to my lonely room to pick lint from my navel.
The last flight of the evening left for Shannon. Work was done. Time to party. People and cars started leaving. No sign of the prodigy. Not wanting to be stranded alone at the airport, I made a call to O's house. The prodigy answered. Was he coming? Or should I catch a lift in the last remaining car?
I later learned he'd been sitting in his boxer shorts watching sports on TV. He had blown off his father's plans for him, thinking I had probably agreed just to placate the old man. He didn't know that I wasn't some bored, blase American cheerleader type; that if I'd said I'd go to the party with him, I'd be waiting until he showed up; that if he didn't show up it would confirm my status as a social outcast.
Ten minutes later a car screeched to the curb outside Irish. Out jumped a guy of slender build and average height. He had short dark hair and was wearing AF issue 'birth control glasses' [so dubbed because they were SO ugly!] But behind the glasses were the most beautiful dark brown eyes I had ever seen. He was wearing god-awful greenish pants [his mother still dressed him in those days] and falling over himself apologizing.
When he dropped me off at my digs that night he asked if I'd like to go to the beach the following week. I said I'd love to. To me, a finely tuned brain was the sexiest attribute a guy could have. Especially if it was covered with dark brown curly hair. And looked out on the world from soulful dark brown eyes. Only much later did I find out that this also surprised him. Only much, much later did I find out why. He had recently been dumped by one of the aforementioned cheerleader types and was still nursing a wounded ego. I might have been slower to fall if I'd known I was catching him on the rebound. But I didn't know that. And I drowned in those deep brown pools.
That was forty tempestuous years ago. Who knew forty years could go by so fast? Five children and eleven moves, and when my head stopped spinning we were in Florida. Why Florida? To be close to the out-,I mean in-,laws, to help them in their declining years. Hmmph. Turned out it was too close for the OC. He lasted three years before an old friend lured him north with an irresistible job in rocket science. But I know the truth.
It's a little bit weird, it's a little bit lonesome. But I enjoy my own company; I putter convincingly; I have a cheerful telephone voice. I visit the AO's regularly. And gamely listen to all the new and interesting aches and pains. And the same stories over and OVER. If I were my MIL I'd have shot my FIL long ago, and hang the consequences.
But I digress. I miss those come hither brown pools. And so I come hither every now and then. We've weathered a lot in thirty seven years. It's tough enough for two stubborn people to live together in relative peace. Throw in five more cut from a blend of those two cloths and you're not looking at a Norman Rockwell painting. We've sailed through turbulent waters and weathered severe storms. Sometimes the boat was on the verge of sinking. But the sun always came out again, eventually, and we always got back to calmer waters. As each of our five set off to chart their own courses we've crossed our fingers and held our breath, and spent time on our knees negotiating with the Guy in the Sky.
As one of my blogfriends so wisely said----"The only person we can really do anything about is ourselves... we can help and guide others, but when it comes to the crunch they have to make their own way. We can be there, we can love, we can hope. To thine own self be true. We all have to keep moving...." A wise woman, that. I knew it, of course, just needed a reminder. Thanks Ali!
So. Thirty seven years---a lifetime---and still hangin'. They say men marry women hoping they'll never change, and women marry men hoping they will! That's a bit simplistic. If nothing and nobody ever changed, I'd die of boredom. The OC is a rock. On which I have often bashed my stubborn head. My attempts to change him perished on the rocks of futility. But time wrought what I could not! He is now as mellow as he's probably ever going to be. And, finally, I'm fine with that. He has stoically withstood the emotional, illogical, and often incoherent onslaught of me. For which he should probably be awarded a medal. He is the clearest thinker, the best problem solver [which is fortuitous, since I am probably the best problem maker] and the most logical person I know. But better than all that--- he still has the power to make me laugh. And that's what keeps the boat afloat.