The Repository - Chapter 10
 

Making It Official

 

 

            After Gregg’s nap we ate a quick lunch, barely making a dent in the repast Bozhena had left.  Then we went into the living room where the air was filled with the strains of a new recording of Donizetti's Lucia de Lammermour, one of my mother's recent acquisitions.  I heard the clock strike five o'clock and fully expected to hear Bozhena's car at the same time.  Then it was five thirty and she still hadn't arrived.  When she said about five o'clock, what she really meant, baring divine intervention, was five o'clock exactly.  Then I heard her car.  It seemed that a few days ago the muffler on her car had a slight altercation with a curb.  I couldn't exactly envision it, but evidently the curb had won and now her car could be heard from quite a distance.  Well, it helped to warn pedestrians and drivers alike as to who was approaching.

 

            She was loaded down with more food and asked, "Would one of my handsome sons please get the packages out the back seat of the car?"  I told Gregg that I could do it and discovered that there was almost more than could be carried in one trip.  Now I knew what she had been up to all afternoon—another of her infrequent, though usually extravagant, shopping sprees. 

 

            She made both us of sit on the sofa since she announced that she had a little surprise.  She was about to open the first package when the celebrated sextet scene in Lucia began.  She stopped, closed her eyes and it was evident we were expected to do the same.  "Krasni, krasni —beautiful, beautiful," she murmured.  And it was.  First one voice, then a second joins the first, followed by a third until all six are joined in the most exquisite harmony imaginable.  In a play if six people attempt to talk at the same time it becomes noise, in opera six voices in harmony, though singing different words, and it becomes divine. 

 

            "And now something for my handsome number one son," and she handed me a package she had previously peeked in to be assured of the contents.  It was a beautiful, long sleeved dress shirt with a pale green collar and slightly deeper color to the body.  "For handsome son number two."  Gregg had one that was similar except that his was a rich deep salmon with a white collar.  I noticed that the boxes they had been in were from Armando's, an exclusive men's shop in Pasadena.  My next package contained a very nice polo shirt, once again in two soft shades of green and a pair of white bermudas and they appeared to be made of some type of linen.  Gregg's had a polo shirt of pale blue combined with an deep electric blue and a pair of the same white bermudas.  Then she showed us an exquisite black dress she had purchased for herself.  Gregg started to get up but Bozhena motioned for him to remain seated.

 

            She went over to her purse and extracted two identical, small boxes.  I thought they might contain cuff links or a perhaps a tie clip, and at the same time thought it rather odd.  Still standing, she peeked first in one box and then the other.  She almost began to speak and then hesitated as if unsure of exactly how to begin.  The momentary silence was most unlike my mother.  First she handed a box to me and then one to Gregg.  They contained identical rings.  A plain, simple, broad gold band.  Elegant in their unadorned beauty.  At last she spoke, "You can of course wear them on either your left or right hand, however you feel most comfortable."

 

            The opera had finished and the loudest noise in the room was the steady movement of the pendulum on the clock.   Then after pausing she continued, "You know that many individuals might not accept your relationship.  In this house ve do.  I do."   The rings were beautiful in their simplicity and without measure in their significance.  She turned and went into the dining room.  Gregg came over, had me put the ring on his right hand; I had him do the same for me.  They fit perfectly.  He held me in his arms, gave me a little squeeze as yet another seal of that eternal bond.  No word was spoken, nor necessary.

 

            Bozhena returned with three small Czechoslovakian liqueur glasses and the slivovitz.  Uh oh, I remembered what had happened last week when the two of us got into the slivovitz.  Turning to Gregg she said, "Now you vill learn some more of our customs."  

 

            She filled the glasses and we all toasted, "Na zdroviye! - Na zdroviye! - Na zdroviye! - To your health."  At this time she also mentioned, with a twinkle in her eyes, that on Saturday we were expected to make an appearance at Zorbas.  And added that we had new shirts, but were expected to furnish our own pants.  I kept looking down at my right hand and was still finding it difficult to believe that all of this had happened.  It was too much like a fantasy.  Several times I noticed Gregg doing the same.

 

            Gregg and Bozhena spent the evening seated at the piano enveloped in the magic of music.  And the three of us also managed to polish off the slivovitz.  Gregg had already put on his polo shirt and Bozhena commented that the colors were nice but she should have gotten him a yellow one.  She was positive he would look marvelous in yellow; he agreed that it was one of his favorite colors.  I listened to their conversation and thought to myself that he looked great in any color, well maybe not lavender or purple, but also knew that he also looked super in just his birthday suit.  Eventually I cooked dinner, relying on the abundant leftovers from lunch, since it appeared that it would be the only way anything would ever appear on the table. 

 

 

            Later that night, cuddled in each other's arms we were remembering Bozhena's little game during the last evening of our previous visit.  She claimed that she could test intelligence, imagination and creativity with a piece of paper.  She had folded and flattened a piece of paper into a quarter inch band and then held it around Gregg's finger.  When it obviously wouldn't slip past his knuckle she announced, "I knew you vould pass the test!"  She had done the same to me, but insisted on using a new piece of paper.  She obviously had secreted away those papers which, she later confessed to me, were marked with her fingernail indentations and served as a guide for the size of our rings.  I had thought at the time that her charade was sort of dumb, and even questioned it, but had gone along with her little game.  She must have already decided that if we were going to be lovers, we deserved to have some physical evidence of that bond. 

 

            As we continued to talk, Gregg revealed that he really wanted to discuss our relationship with Bela, but felt that he just couldn't do it yet.  In the same breath he mentioned that just last week he had finally told Aunt Gina about himself— and about us.  I could almost hear the smile in his voice as he continued, "Well evidently it wasn't any great revelation, as she had suspected it for some time.  As to our relationship, she seemed especially pleased that we had found each other.  She also mentioned that she thinks you are one of the sweetest, most sincere people she's ever met.  Of course I agreed."  He paused briefly, "I've often wished that Gina would meet someone and get married, but she seems to be content with her somewhat solitary life.  Since my folks died she has almost been my second mother; maybe that and her job is enough for her."

 

            I realized that we hadn't really hadn’t talked much about Bela.  "Oh ,she's just fine although she seems a little lonely.  And by the way, she also doesn't know that I'm here with you.  She thought I had to leave early because the government had changed the plans.  I just didn't have the heart to tell her the truth.  But we had a super visit." 

 

            Then he went on to tell me that he'd finally found out how Paolo had gotten his broken leg.  Giovanna had told him the entire story.  It seemed that Paolo had gotten a young lady friend pregnant, and when confronted by Bela,  had refused to accept any responsibility for what had happened.   Bela didn't agree with his attitude and felt that since he had been having a relationship with her he should be responsible enough to marry her.  As usual they couldn't come to an agreement.  She told him to get out of the house and he started to leave and then turned around to argue some more.  That's when she closed the door and with sufficient force to break his leg. 

 

            Gregg continued, "And you know I've been mentally reviewing when she closed the refrigerator on my arm.  She probably should have done it to my neck."  He chuckled for a while at the imaginary scene of Bela closing the refrigerator with his head inside. 

 

            "Now, this dedicated lady had cared for me for much of my life—from the time my parents died.  She washed my clothes, cooked my food, held me when I was sick, sang to me when I was frightened or lonely, told me marvelous stories and jokes.  I was her life.  In turn I adored her and she could see and feel the love on a daily, hourly basis.  Sure we argued a bit, actually a lot, but that is part and parcel of the Italian temperament; arguing and yelling a little is another way expressing love.  Then suddenly I had closed her out of my life.  I spent very little time at the house."

 

            "I told you about when I discovered that there were lots of guys out there who liked to play with other guys....I went a crazy for a while.   Sure, I came home for clean clothes and of course to fill the cavity in my tummy.  "Hi Bela — ciao Bela."  She had put up with it for a couple of months and then WHAM.  God damn that hurt, my arm was purple for two weeks.  But I got the message.  If you're going to come home and wolf down my manicotti, at least acknowledge that they're delicious, and while you're still chewing why don't you at least say you still love me."

 

            Gregg asked if Bozhena ever got violent like that.  I explained that as children she had a favorite hair brush that she used, though rarely.  I related that when I was thirteen I had transgressed some major rule, though now I couldn't remember what.  She was really pissed, grabbed her brush and attempted to put me over her knees and discovered that I had become so tall and lanky that it was no longer feasible.  I began to laugh and then she did too.  We laughed until we were almost crying, and the punishment sort of got lost in the merriment. 

 

            No, her 'violence' was verbal and she didn't even have to raise her voice.  All she had to do was say that it was time to 'have a little talk' and both my sister and I knew that it was the worst punishment possible and we would see the logic of her thinking and wind up crying.  Although one time she did threaten to rip out my tonsils.  Gregg loved that story about my French Parisian 'rrrr's'.  He then squiggled around a little like a cat, and finally comfortable, purred, "Night, see you in my dreams."

 

            The next day Gregg began talking about the future when we would be in different parts of the Far East and was eliciting a promise that I would write every day.  I didn't have to mail the letters every day, but I had to at least think of him every day.  He gave me explicit instructions that upon waking each day my first action was to look at my tattoo and know that he was looking at his.  Then added that we also had identical rings as a second reminder. 

 

Then came a discussion about military censorship of mail since we were working for an organization relentless in their insistence and vigilance on security.  We decided that perhaps if we wrote in a foreign language they might just ignore it.  Then came a better idea, to invent an alphabet which would look foreign but was really nothing more than a basic letter transliteration with a few simple devices to defy easy detection by all but the most minute scrutiny.  We had taken basic cryptology in Fort Devins and hence were aware of those exact methods which were used in deciphering coded messages.  Gregg was enthusiastic and chuckled, "We'll beat the fuckers at their own game.  And if we get caught, then we'll just spend the rest of our lives in bed making love."  Sounded like a great idea.

 

            So between us there evolved an alphabet based on Greek, Russian and purely invented letters, with certain random characters which would serve as a camouflage and help to avoid easy detection.   Most of our letters would be in English and when we wanted to say something of a personal nature the clue would be, "aunt Hepzipah or uncle Ezber, or any other ridiculous name, wrote and told me that......  Gregg giggled and commented, "And who would know that in this line we were writing about something which they could never comprehend, even if they could decipher the letters.

 

            Actually we spent much of the day working on it and then making refinements until we were satisfied with how it looked and functioned.  One of the first things that Gregg wrote down and then handed me to translate was a portion of a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

 

 

      How do I love thee?

           Let me count the ways. . .

 

           

 

       On Friday evening, after dinner, Bozhena excused herself and explained that since Mrs. Henson, the next door neighbor, was still in the hospital she was going drop by there to see her and visit for a while.  Gregg and I had spent a few minutes visiting with her earlier in the day.  Actually we had gone to a jewelry store to find something for Bozhena, as a small gift from the two of us.  The hospital was only two blocks away and I had told Gregg that our family had known her since the first day we moved into our house.  She and her husband had been the perfect neighbors; always available in case of any need and yet never invasive of our privacy.  She also made the most delicious oatmeal  cookies in the world.

 

            Gregg was stretched out on the sofa reading.  I had been curled up in one of the large comfortable chairs—I put down my book and went to the piano.  I loved to play the piano and enter into that special, magical world inhabited by such greats as my mother, father and Mozart, of course.  But playing in front of Bozhena still made me a bit apprehensive for fear that she somehow wouldn't approve of my technique or if I hit a couple of wrong notes she would get all squinty eyed and scowl.  I rummaged through the piano bench for something and then saw the book of Chopin Nocturnes.  Yes, it was time. 

 

            I turned to the page of the Nocturne in F minor.   It was now over three years since George’s death.  And yet this composition had also become a part of the relationship which Gregg and I shared. Then as the notes flowed from my fingers I knew that it had come to have a new significance.  In essence this had not been George's farewell.  It had been his gift to me for my future.  It was because of these very notes that Gregg had sat by my side and first put his arm around my shoulder, in that incredible gesture of tenderness and caring.  I stopped thinking, not even considering the notes on the page in front of me, and just let the music flow.  I had been so involved in the music that I wasn't aware that Gregg had gotten up and was sitting by me once again.  Yes, he also knew that this particular Nocturne was very special for both of us.  And seeing my smile he knew that I was now playing it especially for him.  It certainly wasn't as fluid as I would have liked, but each note was a vibration released into the universe as an affirmation of my love, vibrations which would continue without pause for all of eternity.

 

            When Bozhena arrived I was still seated at the piano, and still with Chopin.  My fingers, which had been rather stiff when I began, had limbered up a bit.  I had been so engrossed in the majesty of Chopin's music that I didn't hear her enter, I wasn't aware that my 'teacher' was standing nearby; I didn't have to be fearful that she was critically evaluating, not just the ability and technique to reproduce the printed notes, but something much more important, how much feeling I was able to convey.  Was the music really a part of me?  I had just finished the Prelude in E minor when she came over and kissed me on the cheek.

 

 

            "Vhen I came in the back door I knew immediately that I vas hearing your father.  I knew that it vas him.  And then vhen I came into the room and saw you it vas like stepping back in time.  I saw him, heard him and felt him once again.  Thank you son for making your mother very happy and giving me this grand gift.  You play just as beautifully as he did and I am very proud of you." 

 

            I knew she was exaggerating, but appreciated the praise.  Gregg had gotten up to give Bozhena kiss on the cheek.  Then he bent down and kissed me on top of the head, saying, "I’m happy too."  It was the first time there had ever been an overt display of affection between us and I must have had a slight look of apprehension on my face.  But when I looked at my mother she had a marvelous smile and her eyes were twinkling.  I remembered that many years ago when we had first come to the United States and the kids in school had taunted and teased me because of my foreign accent and occasionally different ways of expressing or doing things she had told me to never, but never be ashamed of who I was.

 

            That night in bed Gregg and I were, as usual, chatting before going to sleep.  He then began to talk about my playing the Nocturne in F minor and how beautiful it was.  He had heard the entire story about George and I explained to him that this evening I realized that the F minor had actually been a gift from my cousin George; and because of that gift the two of us had made our first contact. 

 

            Gregg then interjected, "But it was also because of the gift of Doug."  I had no idea what he was referring to.  Then he continued,  "First of all I believe that every person we encounter in life has a gift to offer us.  Mainly something we can learn from them or about ourselves by our interaction with them. 

 

            "But to continue with Doug.  It was about a year before I joined the military that I first encountered Doug.  He was a graduate student at Boston University and working on his Master's in Business Administration.  We met at a gay party and were almost immediately attracted to each other.  We left the party early and drove out to the Cape, in his brand new, cute little T-Bird, and sat and talked until the sun came up the next morning.  Just talking, no coochy coochy — well not that first night, not the first 24 hours.  He was absolutely brilliant, tall, handsome and very masculine in appearance.  We started going out together and soon were seeing each every day and going to bed together every night.  His family was one of the oldest and most influential in Boston.  Abundant money and the power that goes with it.  He loved the theater, music, opera.  He was obviously a Knight in Shining Armor, and the shine was pure gold of course." 

 

            "Doug started talking about our getting a place together and making it a permanent arrangement.  Of course our little hideaway would have to be outside of the city, far enough away so that his parents would never know about us.  He added a number of other limiting conditions, but I felt I could deal with them.  Now mind you my family has always lived well, but there was never a super excess of money.  His offer was definitely appealing.  One morning I woke up, and I know it had something to do with a dream that I couldn't remember, but I realized there was one minor problem with my relationship with Doug.  I didn't love him.  I had lots of affection for him, was even physically attracted to him, but it wasn't love.  After avoiding and attempting to skirt the issue for a week or so, I finally told him no—that I couldn't do it." 

 

            "I recall that even as those words were coming out of my mouth there was a part of my brain telling me that I was really a dumb shit and had just thrown away a permanent ticket to that fabled Easy Street.  But I had to be honest with him and honest with myself.  I still wanted to be friends with Doug, but he insisted that we not see each other for a while.  One night when I came home Bela handed me a package and explained that a young man had left it for me."

 

            "Now about two months previously we had gone to Boston Symphony Hall to a concert by Arthur Rubenstein.  It was a varied program and absolutely incredible.  The only Chopin he played was the Nocturne in F minor and Doug and I both agreed it was the most beautiful thing he had played.  As you have no doubt guessed the gift from Doug was the album of Chopin Nocturnes, the very same one I played for you that first night when you entered my life.  So sweetie, it was not only the gift from George but also the gift from Doug that helped us to find each other."  We embraced, knowing that it had to have been something even greater that had put it all together.

 

            Saturday evening and decked out in our new shirts, with pants provided by the owners of course, we were ready to head for Zorbas.  Bozhena looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her.  Her beautiful multihued blond hair had, that morning, been cut and shortened a bit, styled to reflect the new youthful look of her face.  Somehow she seemed much, much younger than she had just a few months ago.  She was wearing her new black dress, simple and very elegant, with pendulous gold earrings and around her neck a simple gold chain with the zodiac symbol for Capricorn.  The accessories a gift from her 'handsome sons' that afternoon. 

 

            When we entered the maitre 'd beamed and immediately said, "Good evening Mrs. Stefanos, we have your usual table up front."  He then greeted us and led us to a table near the dance floor, off to one side.  On the way Gregg and I gave each other questioning glances —what had Bozhena been up to during the month since our last visit?  Without being asked the waiter arrived with a bottle of white Retsina and he also addressed her by name, but both times they had said Mrs. Stefanos, a slight variation of our actual surname. 

 

            Now it was time for Bozhena to tell us what had been transpiring.  It seemed that she had been visiting Zorbas about once a week since first coming here two months ago.  She confessed that she just couldn't absorb enough of the music and atmosphere and if you included the food, well it as close to heaven as she would ever encounter on earth, unless of course, she got to Greece, and it seemed she was considering that.  As for 'Stefanos', well someone made a mistake when she called for a reservation and since she liked the sound of it, and it was a legitimate  Greek name, she had just never corrected them. 

 

            Dinner was ordered, the musicians had arrived and Gregg had of course already been on the dance floor twice.  He came back to the table just as one of the slower dances for both men and women had begun.  Bozhena stood, took him by the hand and they went back to the dance floor.  Somehow I just couldn’t imagine her doing a Greek dance, though I remembered that in Czechoslovakia she had loved to join in the traditional Slovak dances whenever she had the opportunity.   Many of the Greek dances were for males only.  How did she know that this one wasn’t?  She may not have been quite as fluid as some the others dancing, but she was without a doubt the most beautiful.  Some of the steps were a bit complicated, yet she moved as if she had been dancing them all her life.  At one point Gregg looked directly at me, opened his eyes as wide as possible in amazement and smiled that special smile of complete contentment. 

 

            It was a joyous occasion and I was trying to not let those other thoughts intrude.  I attempted to keep them at bay.  This would be the last night I would be with my mother for three years.  And it might well be the same with that other part of my being, Gregg.  How could I possibly live apart from the two people who helped to sustain my life and give it meaning?  In this place, and at this moment I was surrounded with the joy of life, with happy, carefree people, enchanting vibrant music and yet I was dying a small death inside.  I had not yet learned the art of living completely in the moment.  Something it appeared that both Gregg and Bozhena were capable of.

 

            I had talked to Dwight several times during my leave, but we couldn't arrange a time to get together.  He had asked if Gregg and I would like to go with him to the airport since Reginald would be driving.  I asked if Reginald would mind if Bozhena went along and he could drop her off on the way back.  No problem, all was arranged and they would come by the house at about 4:00 so there would be plenty of time to make our 6:30 flight to San Francisco. 

 

            Before Dwight and Reginald arrived Bozhena announced that she had decided that she would not be going to the airport.  She explained that she enjoyed seeing people arrive, but, 'departures were not pleasant'.  She smilingly promised Gregg that she would not get married until we got back so that we could go on her honeymoon to Greece with her, and if her husband to be didn't like the arrangement, she would just find another one.  Gregg also added that if she decided to not get married, then just the three of us would go.  In fact he even had a couple of unmarried relatives over there that she might be interested in.  They both giggled.   She confided that she would be in Greece next week, well the closest thing to it.  Before leaving Zorba's last night she had made reservations for this coming week.   Surprisingly not a tear was shed as we said good-by, but all three of us were biting our lips and I just knew that Bozhena's would swell up like a great big, bloated, pink lizard.....or some other marvelous simile that only my mother could invent. 

 

            It was a rapid flight and we arrived at the San Francisco airport at a little after 7:30 pm and surprisingly there was a military bus going directly to the Army Base located in Pittsburg, about an hour and a half to the north.  The three of us were billeted in the same barracks as Sven and all of the other ASA Language School graduates that were going to the Far East.  There were also hundreds of other soldiers whose destination was either Japan or Korea.  No one seemed to know when we would be shipping out and whether it would be by air or ship.  The most prevalent rumor was that the orders would be posted tomorrow morning.  Although the Korean Armistice had been signed, after five years of devastating war, there was still considerable movement of 'peace keeping' troops headed in that direction..

 

            The day dawned gray and foggy.  Really dismal.  I felt that it was somehow yet another sign, an external manifestation, of the internal depression that was enveloping my being.  I had mentally attempted to envision how I could possibly say farewell to the person who had given me the greatest happiness I had every known and now sustained my daily life.  Try as I might, there was no way I could envision it.

 

            Everyone was assembled at 9:00 am for the information was to be read and then would be posted as to who was leaving when and by what means of transportation.  I couldn't help but notice the difference in the general atmosphere.  Those of us who had been in the Security Agency for the past year and a half had been living in a world where people, who were at the same time human beings, were treated with respect and human decency.  Once again, like Basic Training, we had entered a world of superiors and inferiors, the latter treated as sub-humans.  Officers and 'cadre' barking and screaming orders, nothing was uttered in a normal tone of voice.  It was demoralizing and added to the bleakness of my emotional state.

 

            After what seemed like hours of endless names, primarily those of the regular army units, they finally began with the Security Agency personnel.  Specialist Adams, Charles, was the first name read and would be reporting to Travis Air Force base for further orders.  I knew that Chuck had studied Chinese and was headed for Okinawa.  The third name was Specialist Bartoni, Gregory, and when the information after his name was read I realized that my heart had been pounding with such ferocity that either I didn't understand it or had just momentarily blacked out—I had no idea what had been said.  I did remember the date, Thursday, August 26.  As more names were read, I began to notice a pattern; everyone going to either Korea or Japan was to be aboard the USS Bristol leaving on Thursday the 26th.  I too would be leaving on the 26th. It was nothing short of a miracle.  We would be together for a few more weeks.  My heart almost returned to its normal pattern of beats. 

 

            As the troop carrier, the USS Bristol, passed under the Golden Gate bridge I looked down the railing to where Gregg was talking to Sven and a couple of other guys.  I smiled as he winked, and all was right with the world. 

 

            For the next three days the ocean was particularly rough and the large ship heaved to and fro, bobbing like some insignificant cork.  Most of the army personnel were sick.  In the galley, when we went down to eat, it was jokingly referred to as the 'domino effect'.  One soldier would be eating, suddenly turn pale and vomit.  Then it would just pass down the line with nearly everyone playing follow the leader, and vomit in turn.  Fortunately, Gregg, Sven and I were three of the lucky ones who had spent sufficient time on either ships or smaller boats that we were able to enjoy the voyage and not succumb to the seasickness which was prevalent among the others.  Although Dwight had turned green even before many of the others and rarely ventured far from his bed. 

 

The military was well known for its 'need to know' policy which briefly meant that nearly everyone was kept in the dark about everything.  No one had even been told how long the voyage would take.  Sven had talked to one of the sailors aboard and learned that we would be stopping in Hawaii, though even he didn't know for how long.

 

            As we were entering Pearl Harbor and could see the magnificent greenness of that lush, tropical island of Oahu, I encountered Martin, now a sailor attached to the Bristol, and a former classmate from my high school.  Although we hadn't been friends, and in fact I had probably never even spoken to him, he had been in several of my classes.  He also recognized me and we began to chat.  In the course of the conversation I learned that the ship had had some minor problems and would probably be docked here for an unknown length of time.  I rushed over to tell Gregg the newest 'scuttlebutt', except that this time the gossip came from a fairly reliable source.  Martin had also mentioned that the facilities there were excellent and if there for more than a couple of days we would probably receive day passes to go off the base.

 

            Sven, Gregg, Dwight, Alex and I were on the bus headed for Honolulu.  Gregg and I, obviously in an unconscious anticipation of the future, had had the good sense to bring along Bozhena's present of Bermuda shorts and bright polo shirts.  Her two handsome sons were the best outfitted on the bus.  All regular army personnel had been restricted to the base, and the ASA personnel had been given day passes, which meant that we had to be back by 10:00 every evening, but we were also free to explore the island every day. The other soldiers had to stay on base and although it didn't make us very popular, we were extremely happy that we'd had the good sense to enlist.  Obviously our rating as ASA Specialists had certain advantages.

 

            A portion of the second day was spent at the Foster Botanical Gardens.  Gregg and I had wandered off by ourselves and left the other guys to explore downtown Honolulu.  This incredible world of tropical plants was nearly beyond belief.  There were blooming orchids, fragrant gingers, trees filled with brilliant blossoms.  I had fallen in love again, only this time it was with that particular niche of plants within the vast world of tropical botany.  It seemed that Gregg was in complete agreement.  That night as we were returning to base he confided that California was no longer the only contender as a place for our future residence.  He would opt for a tropical location since he loved the feel of the warm, humid air on his skin, the sweet fragrance of the nighttime air; in fact everything that comprised this tropical paradise.  He whispered that it was really nice of the army to have generously given us yet another honeymoon.  Then I had to remind him that we'd never finished the first one.  It had begun the evening we first met and just sort of magically continued.  We couldn't really touch each other, other than a quick embrace behind one of the dense clumps of bamboo, but it was indeed, a magnificent gift.  Yes, it would be nice to live in this type of a tropical paradise.

 

            Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, the notice was posted.  The Army Security Agency personnel headed for Korea would be leaving from the nearby airbase on the following Tuesday.  We had two more days together.  They were spent with smiles and knowing glances.  Then once again I had to bite my lip, summon some unknown courage from deep within so that I wouldn't cry, as Gregg, Sven and the others boarded the bus that was transporting them to the airbase. 

 

            As the bus pulled away all that remained in my field of vision as the sight of his smiling, shining eyes as he waved good-bye.  His eyes carried a sheen obviously caused by moisture, and not the humidity in the air.  Most important, I knew that deep, deep within my being I retained his love, and he my love, and that would be with us forever.  Neither time or space could alter that in any way.  But even that comforting knowledge couldn’t restrain the abundant, but silent, tears in my pillow that night. 

 

 

◄