Wednesday, February 13, 2008
une histoire d'amour... la partie une
she boarded the plane bound for frankfurt after a long year in missouri without her family. she had gained the "sophmore 10" in her case. she was depressed. two flights and twelve hours later she landed with a plane full of military members ready to start their new assignments overseas. all she knew was she was unhappy and was looking forward to a summer in europe. upon sensing her depression her mother signed her up to be a red cross volunteer and informed her she would be completing the dreaded college algebra class that summer through the university of maryland's overseas campus in order to keep her mind from wandering too much. the volunteer work was fun, she began to smile, then began exercising again and lost those extra pounds. she traveled to normandy, france to see where US forces landed on D-Day. she traveled to amsterdam (with her grandparents) visited museums, saw where the Frank family hid, was locked in a room with diamonds, peeked at the ladies in the windows when she thought no one was looking. then ate creamy chocolate and learned about tapestries and the stories they tell in belgium.
she started the dreaded college algebra class. she quickly realized the chain smoking engineer who was teaching was not, in fact, teaching algebra but instead a sort of foreign math language which did nothing but jumble in her head. she transferred to a "beginner" college algebra class. math had always been her bane. in the new class she chose her seat, out of character for the usual front and center girl, a desk dead center. while insignificant to most, was important to her. this class proved to be very remedial, but hopefully would prepare her for something that would fill the college algebra requirement. the instructor drooled, a lot.
someone in the front got an easy equation wrong. she looked up to snicker. but instead saw a g.i. out of uniform, wearing black workout pants and a white t-shirt. she noted his very nice arms. later in the week she passed him in the gym and smiled. he intrigued her. she began to take a very long time loading up her bag after class. maybe she could lure him into a conversation. he seemed to like apples, for he ate one most days.
after a couple of weeks of taking 10 minutes to put one book away, perhaps it was going to be her who spoke first.
"do you live here, or on bitburg?"
"oh no reason, if you lived on bitburg i was going to ask you for a ride"
"i can give you a ride, its not a problem. just let me drop my bike off first and get my car."
she walked with him to his dorm. up the flight of stairs and down the hall, past the dirtiest messiest room she had ever seen they arrived at his. it was clean. there were books. a friend of his wanted a gyro from a restaurant in a neighboring village. they all went in the 1983 white mercedes with navy blue interior together. while the friend went inside for the gyro, the two stayed in the car. she found out he was from texas. he had been stationed in japan before germany. it was sunny that day, she smiled as she spoke. when he dropped her off she realized she was happy.
her mother was also intrigued and pleased. her previous boyfriend had not been up to par with the mother's exacting expectations. a few days passed. as she was walking to the bus stop, he asked her if she need a ride, because he was actually on his way to bitburg. she accepted. two days pass. she has secured a ride from another woman in class, whom she had met in the clinic where she volunteered. he stopped her in the parking lot.
"a couple of us are having a bar b que tonight at the dorms if you what to come."
"sure. here is my number. oh, how would i get there?"
"i can pick you up. do you need a ride now?"
"no, she is giving me a ride, just give me a call in couple of hours. i need to change."
her eye had been bothering her for the past couple of days, she had been wearing her glasses. she hated her glasses, they made her self conscious and they felt heavy on her face.
her mom drove her to the bx at bitburg, he was to pick her up there. she did not have a european driver's license. she felt like a 12 year old having her mom drop her off. he didn't seem to mind. the US mission in kosovo had just ended. all of the g.i.s were more than happy to not be working twelves anymore and were showing it by the amount of beer they were consuming. he only had a couple. some of the airmen were playing volleyball. he joined in. she was never coordinated with balls and decided to sit it out, lest she end up with a bloody nose or black eye. plus, she was still wearing those awful glasses. he took off his shirt. she nearly fell out her chair. later everyone decided to go to the Bash, it was 4th of july weekend and the base was having a carnival in celebration. they rode rides together and they both nearly got sick. that was unlike her, she never got sick on rides.
someone mentioned the bitburg pub. they joined the group. it was dark, smokey, it had wooden walls with pictures of proper english men drinking guinness and bulldogs on them, a pool table. it was packed. she ordered a guinness, she didn't like them much, but they were on the wall and she didn't want to seem silly ordering something too feminine.
late that night he drove her home. through the village, then the forest, down a hill to the very old backesmuhle. an oasis, really. large flower boxes, a garden, a barn, a chateau by a creek. she leaned over to kiss him. they smooshed noses. she was horrified, he cupped her chin and brought her in for a kiss. they kissed, once. she left the car and went inside.
they agreed the next day that they would go to the movies in Luxembourg. he was late, very late picking her up. she wasn't worried that he had stood her up though. he had gotten lost returning, had turned down the wrong road and could not find the forest before the house. they missed the movie. instead they wandered upon a square filled with shops and restaurants. there were tables set up in rows in the middle of the square. the ground was old cobblestone, the buildings were more ornate having a french influence, but still very germanic in nature. they noticed a mexican restaurant and decided on a margarita, laughing at the thought of having mexican food in europe for they had not yet discovered wine, nor french cuisine. sitting at the white tables in rows under strands of lights strung from building to building they listened to everyone speaking french. it was warm and humid evening. she noticed little sweat beads forming on the small of her back and hoped he did not notice too. they went for a walk venturing down into the grund. a valley in the middle of the city, with walking paths, trees, flowers, and casemates. surprisingly a natural landscape, for most of the area had perfected the organized garden. she realized she was vulnerable down here with him but was not scared. after an hour of walking, they walked back up the path to return to the car. they somehow managed to wander into a private estate garden, it was well manicured. shaped bushes and tidy paths. he pulled her in and kissed her for a long time in that well manicured private garden in Luxembourg.
to be continued....