“Maybe after Christmas,” I replied, worried he couldn’t afford this long distance call from London.
“No, come now. I need you. You’ll see, we will look back on this as one of the best periods of our lives.”
I had great misgivings. There’d been a passionate affair in Athens but no future– better just cherish the memory of the handsome charming fellow who had challenged my thinking, made me laugh, made me feel precious. I should be realistic, stay in Chicago after traipsing abound Europe with a friend, and return to high school teaching, even if it meant barren spinsterhood. And breaking codes of behavior, living with him in prim and proper Britain seemed unimaginable. Besides, Mom wanted the family together for the holidays.
Bombarding me with phone calls and daily love letters, he wore me down. It seemed ominous when a Chicago snowstorm cancelled my Icelandic Air flight, but I was put on British where the beefeater-clad attendant spoke about the joys of a London Christmas. At Heathrow I mistook the black bearded man who greeted me for a Greek priest… had I made a terrible mistake? He then sneaked me into his flat with his other roommates. But we plunged into the Swinging 60’s and began enthusing about better TV and newspapers, the theater, the ins and outs of the NHS, the British way of doing things, and we both found work. We married and, after four years, piled our belongings into a VW convertible, positioned our two-year-old on the top, and toured Europe on our way to another life in Greece. Not always hearts and flowers–and Mom’s family never did Christmas altogether again–but this year we celebrate our 50th with three children and their spouses, the shadow of one lost son, and six grandchildren.

Story by Laurel

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