Subtitle: Moving to Australia: The Prequel/part 1
As I write this during a brief visit to Darwin, it is nearly incomprehensible how I came to live here thirty years ago. Perhaps if I recount the story to you, it will seem more real…
Don and I grew up in the same little town in southern Ohio, a whole other lifetime ago, it now seems. We knew each other and our families because growing up in a Midwest town of 2500, everyone either knew you or knew of you. The former was usually better than the latter! We had good friends in common, but more pertinent to our history (and fate) was that Don had worked for my Dad. Anyone who knew my Dad will tell you he tolerated no nonsense from anyone, and especially when it came to his daughter. I won’t say that is exactly why we never dated because to be perfectly honest, I was ‘jail bait’ in those days, at 4.5 years his junior. So, in this case, knowing of each other was the more discretionary path.
Years passed and I graduated high school just when Don was graduating from Ohio State University. We saw each other briefly and he told me he was off to Australia. Wha??? Australia had a shortage of math and science teachers and was recruiting from the UK, Canada, and the USA. If a person ‘signed up’ the Australian government would pay their way over and back as long as they stayed a minimum of two years. I told him to write to me and, being the good letter writer I have always been, I wrote back when, eventually, he did write. In those days it took weeks to get a letter from Australia to the USA, and it was nearly a month if you asked a question before you received the answer by return mail!
We lost touch for a while. He moved about 18 times in the first 10 years he was in Australia, because that is what many young, single people did in those days. He kept the same job, just moved his few boxes of possessions from flat to shared house. Before I knew it, I was finished with my Uni education and was working hard in the television business as an artist, and traveling whenever I could. My cousin, who is more like my sister, married Don’s best mate from high school, and even though they had moved to Wyoming they came to Ohio for visits and caught up with lots of folks in town. Once, when she was visiting Ohio I mentioned I’d had a series of dreams in which Don was the central figure! They were right out of the blue as I’d had no contact with him for a few years. Even at the age of 27 I was beginning to understand that there are no coincidences in Life, only things we do not understand. During this conversation, Donna said ‘We just saw his Mother and she gave us his address, would you like it?’ I may not believe in coincidence, but I am always surprised at the inventiveness of the Universe to give us what we need, when we need it.
Shortly after this, as fortune would have it, my new boss at the TV station, WKRC in Cincinnati, encouraged me to look for work elsewhere as they wanted to hire all new people. TV can be almost as brutal and soul destroying as politics at times. As with most of life’s changes it all worked for the best and I found another job that took me to Denver, Colorado. A couple of months after writing, I received an answer to my letter which Don described as being ‘a bolt out of the blue’. Indeed. He was going to be in Ohio for Christmas, as was I. Since he usually visited my parents when he was in the US anyway, he said he’d pop around while I was in town for those few days.
I can still remember seeing him from the kitchen window of my parents’ home when he walked up the driveway, and feeling a bit giddy and excited. All that without a word spoken!! As he was leaving the house I made the statement that sealed his fate! “On your way back to Australia, why don’t you stop in Denver and spend a few days?” And then a couple of weeks later, he sealed my fate, by doing it! So Denver was where we properly fell in love…with the annual Stock Show as background, no less!! But we neither one breathed that four letter word until after he had left to return to Australia. We had four perfect days together and it was agony when I took him to the airport. Then, about 48 hours later, the phone rang and it was a fairly inebriated Donald on the other end, calling collect from Singapore and professing his love for me! It was the making of a script for a movie! Perhaps Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams will be interested…
Shortly thereafter I moved to a new job in West Palm Beach, Florida. We wrote letters (phone calls were so expensive in those days) all year long, scheming how we would see each other again. Finally, we agreed to meet for Christmas (1981) in Hong Kong. Oh wow, I marvel now at the strength given me to make that trip… That ill-fated trip, as it turned out…. You will have to wait a day or two for the next instalment. Though I do realise you know the ending, remember the road of true love never runs smoothly, and it wouldn’t be a good movie script without a little heartache 😉