May 1981

simon and lauraWe’ve been planning our wedding, and all that’s going fine. I have a dress and veil I got from a rack of older models for about $100, and we found leftover matching gold bands at a jewelry store for even less; can’t do much better than that.  We’re having the ceremony at Union College in Jackson’s Gardens, where we had our first kiss. That will be nice. The only problem is that the church on campus that we have as back up in case of bad weather is only available on Friday morning the week before graduation. So… the ceremony is on Friday, June 12th at 10am. The reception will be at the fraternity house.  Nothing fancy.

Lou finally called his mother to talk to her and let her know we are getting married. Apparently, she and Lou’s dad have officially separated; Lou doesn’t want to try to get in touch with him. He hasn’t spoken with her since he and I started dating, so she didn’t even know I existed, but she will come to the wedding with his sister.  I wish I could have the chance to meet them before the wedding, because this is going to be very uncomfortable for everyone.

In other good news, Lou was accepted to Duke University MBA program. It was the last school that we heard from and his only acceptance. I don’t know what we would be doing if he didn’t get in there. He had blown off most of the on-campus interviews that he had for jobs, so there was a lot riding on Duke, and the hopes that his chem professor’s connections there would get him in.

We were working together the day he got his acceptance letter. Lou had a call on his handyman ad from a couple that needed help moving.  Help was an understatement.  They needed the National Guard, but all they could afford was Lou, who came with my labor for free. Simon and Laura had two kids and two floors full of crap; they were being evicted and needed to move right away. They rented a U-Haul to move them to a new place in two days, but couldn’t do the packing and moving work alone.  I don’t think these people ever threw anything away in their lives.  Their floors were literally covered with stuff, the boxes the stuff came in, and the advertisements for the stuff.  Laura explained her situation, saying that everything had been going just fine for a long time. Simon had a well-paying job; they had lots of money to spend on fun and stuff.  She said that they loved going out for dinner regularly; they drove as far away as Vermont just for their favorite fondue dinners.  Life was good. Then Simon lost his job, and he couldn’t find another position. Suddenly there was no income, and they had no savings, so they couldn’t make the credit card payments, they couldn’t make the rent payments, and it all went quickly downhill before they knew it.  We worked steadily for two days, moving stacks and stacks of crap from their old place to their new apartment.  We filled an entire spare room of the new apartment stacked from floor to ceiling with stuff, yet they were dirt poor.  We rode back to campus on our bicycles talking about them the entire trip. Not in a gossip or judgmental way, but more reflective, as to how they ended up in such a position in life. We both took a vow: “Remember Simon and Laura.”  We swore we would never get ourselves so far over our heads that we saw no way out, and could only dream about the days we thought would never end.

When we arrived back on campus, we stopped at the student center to check the mail; I waited with the bikes while he enthusiastically skipped steps up the long stairway. On most recent occasions, he has plodded back down, dejected by the bad news in his mailbox. This time, he came running out with the open letter in hand, and practically bounced down the stairs so excited that he got into Duke.

So, now I know what we’ll be doing for the next two years.

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