Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Danny and I had both started going to Bible studies at the homes of some of the older young adults, the married people who supposedly knew more about life and about the Lord than we did. (That seemed reasonable at the time, but in retrospect, I wonder.) After one of the sessions, Danny told me that we needed to talk. We were sitting in my Camaro on the Pepperdine campus when he said, “I think I’m gay.”

Since I had experienced conversations like this before in high school, it wasn’t quite the shock it could have been. Plus there is a certain sub-conscious knowing that is always in the background in a relationship such as ours. Instead of crying or yelling, I asked very analytically, “Do you mean thoughts or actions?” “Oh, just thoughts,” he assured me. (Later, he confessed that was a lie.) “Well,” says I, “Let’s talk about it.”

“No, I don’t want to talk about it. At the Bible study yesterday, they told us if we had any unconfessed sin, we needed to confess it, and God would keep His promise. You know, ‘If we confess our sins one to another, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…” So I expect Him to heal me, now that I’ve confessed.” I knew this was not good, I knew we had to talk, I knew he needed help. But I was still such a passive person, afraid of losing him if I pressed too hard, unwilling to do that, afraid of confrontation. I let it be his way.

Sometime during that spring, we planned to go to one of my family’s favorite Mexican restaurants, El Cholos. Danny and I drove into downtown L.A. to Western Avenue in his pale blue Ford Falcon, and sat down at El Cholos and started to talk. He said something like, “We’ve been together for a long time now…and it seems kind of natural that the day would come when we would…get married.”

We talked for awhile about it, but there was never a moment when he asked the question directly. We left the restaurant with what Jane Austen would call “an understanding.” We were unofficially engaged. As we drove back to Malibu, out over the ocean was a long series of fireworks in the distance ahead of us, and I sighed, “Oh, look what the Lord did just for us,” and snuggled next to him, and he patted my knee. “My little Jesus freak,” he said.

But then it didn’t get any easier. It actually got harder in some ways, because now it felt like there was an inevitable fate looming ahead of us and we were almost trapped in it. And the communication never got any better between us. Summer was approaching, and I didn’t know what to do. Danny and I took a trip up to northern California that spring with Sara and Sam, to visit Danny and Sally Jackson where he was teaching high school in Hayfork. Being with all of them, I realized more deeply than ever that Danny and I didn’t talk, and that I wasn’t content with that.

I watched other couples, and I could tell that they were feeling things that we were not. John Scheifele had found himself a lovely woman, Nancy, and he used to walk up the hill to her dorm to pick her up, and walk back up there with her to say goodnight. Danny left me at the foot of the hill and went to his dorm and I to mine. John and Nancy would study together in the library. They acted like they were a team. We never did, and I longed for that kind of togetherness and mutual support.

Sometimes Danny and I spent time in the early evening, and then he would be off doing other things. In our sophomore year, I found out that he would tell me he was sleepy and going home, and then go out with his dorm mates. It would have been fine if he had been honest about it, but I was hurt that he deceived me. That made me feel like he was putting in obligatory time with me and then needing others to relax and have fun with.

There was still this tenderness between us, almost a mutual compassion for our separate pain, as exemplified in the following conversation:

Guten Abend, mein Liebschen. (Good evening, my love.)
‘Abend, mein Herr. (Good evening, Sir.)
Wo gehen Sie? (Where are you going?)
Ich gehe nach mein Bett. Allein. (I go to my bed. Alone.)
Und mir auch. Leider. (And me as well. Pity.)

It wasn’t all about Danny. I knew that. I knew I had a problem with taking risks and trusting and feeling loved. And I knew I could be very, painfully critical, impatient, demanding. I didn’t know why, really, and I didn’t know anything I could do about it, but I didn’t blame him for it. I was just simply discontent and miserable about it. I wrote these words to him, though I probably didn’t show them to him.

Pretend you are a box.
A chest, maybe, antiqued in brown,
with gold and ochre accents here
and there.
As each small treasure meets the light,
examined with some awe and
much delight,
I wonder at the way you’ve been arranged.
A face kaleidoscopic in its stares
and glances,
surprising eyes, and tender hair.
(I somehow imagined
hair like silk
and golden skin to touch
but here you are)
Oh God, you’re here and real
and I have touched you
with my love.

I used to dare to say out loud
(on paper) “I would be terrific,
yes, I know that I could love you
just sensationally,” but I never
really thought I would
love you (or any other man).
Never believed
you’d let me.
Empty and unworthy
still have meaning in my heart
but time and tender words from you
will bring me free and loving to your side.

I met a guy that semester in a theology class at Malibu, a guy who talked to me sometimes, a guy who studied hard, spending hours in the library when not many others did that. (During my four-year period in college - 1970-1974 - at the tail end of the ‘Sixties, it wasn’t really “cool” to study at Pepperdine…so Mike’s diligence stood out as uncommon.) He was graduating in April and going to Yale to pursue a Ph.D. in Church History. We talked rarely during that semester, but we happened to have lunch with a few others on his graduation day. As we said goodbye, I asked him if he would write me and he said he would. And he did. This tenuous and fragile connection with Mike Johnston was just the lifeline I needed to gather the courage to risk losing the only love I’d ever had. Danny was planning to stay in southern California that summer to work, and he would be living in an apartment in the San Fernando Valley.

It turned out that two of my friends, Elaine Thomas and Virginia Burch, had dated Mike, Elaine while they were in Heidelberg together, and Virg at Malibu. His graduation evening, which was our first time alone together, was so meaningful to me that I took notes on things Mike said, and wrote a little essay to remember it by. “I was sitting on the steps in my long dress and boots, feeling sort of freaky and nice and Virg and Mike and Melody were there and we were eating cafeteria lunch and it was that gray day Graduation feeling and he said, “We ought to sing sometime today.” And I thought that wasn’t fair even to bring up, cause I wanted it so much, and I said, “Aw, come on, not really, do you really mean it?” And later, “I want to apologize for being demanding, I know you probably couldn’t and anyhow I should have appreciated your recognition of the fact that it would be nice, and not tried to make it come true.” It was a day for bravery and collected wits and I was a little frantic –

“Graduation was amazing and almost typical, despite Bob Hope speaking and Loretta Young looking pretty. Six girls all in long dresses watching for Janie and Mike. Graduating, valedictorian in a class of nine, with a faded black T-shirt on. It was delightful. Funny to see Diane Johnston as part of his family. Hanging around but just for observation purposes, then off to Alice’s with the Gang. I asked Virg to find out if Mike was serious about singing and to call me and she was sure he wasn’t but would ask anyhow. Walked in the house at 8:00 and the phone rang.

“Where’ve you been? I called half an hour ago.” Rather pleasant conversation, not a bit like Elaine’s and Virg’s joking description.

Me: “Can you come over?…Any time…Here would be better, don’t you think? Bring Virg about 10:00.” Danny had already left for Stockton. Mike showed up at my mom’s condo door all by himself, with his guitar. Comments not in parentheses are Mike Johnston’s.

(Me: “Yeah, I think I can take just you alone.” Strange because Jan [our boarder] and some guy are in the kitchen studying – lightens thing up a little though.)

Well, what are we gonna sing? (Groping, silence, picking on the guitar, but nothing uncomfortable. Me: I’m speechless.)

There, wasn’t that delightful? I wrote that.

(Trying some Joni.) I should listen to her. I’ve never learned to like her.

(Songs from the Judy Collins book: “Michael From Mountains”, “Hey, that’s no way…”, “Since You Asked”. Sappy, embarrassing, but I was feeling them. Then he sang “Till There Was You”, for heaven’s sake.)

I could probably sit here for two days straight and listen to you talk and I’d be a different person.

(Me: Horrible or all right?)

Probably all right – more sensitive or something.

I want to sing some hymns. (“All to Jesus I surrender…”)

(Me: Amen. Smiling souls. Talking interspersed.)

Next time our paths cross – I think we’ll know more what to sing.

…another pebble on the proverbial beach…

(Me: Did you notice the grossness of “I wish I were in Dixie”?)

Not until Virginia said something.

(Me: I’m sort of overwhelmed by the sadness of it all.)

You remind me of Naomi – when I met Naomi I’d just finished reading Franny and Zooey and she thought it was terrible because it didn’t do a thing for me —

(Me: I think I might be past that place in my life.)

(Me: I’m thinking about becoming a theological librarian.)

Are you serious?

(Me: …or a philosopher…)

Why don’t you?

Fishing all day and studying all night – how long do you think that’ll last? Do you think He could?

What was that quote…

No time to be sad about graduation.

(He said he was concerned about keeping sensitive. I said, “You are; and I think He can.”)

Ruined a beautiful goodbye…Are you speechless?

Do I get a hug?

He wrote down his summer address for me and asked, “Is this a cigarette paper?” I don’t know if it was or not. (I think it was only freshman year that I “rolled my own” with that cute little red plastic roller. And sampled Swisher Sweet cigars, and tried to smoke a cigarette with that carved wooden hedgehog hash pipe. Where is that cute little thing?) Mike would be living at home, and going out on his dad’s fishing boat to work all day that summer to earn money for Yale:

2900 Sullivan Road
Sebastopol, California 95472

And then, in the fall:

409 Prospect
New Haven, CT 06510

0 ~ o ~ 0 ~ o ~ 0

Finally, that painful, confusing spring drew to a close. It was the end of my third year at Pepperdine and my first trimester on the Malibu campus. Between April 12th and 15th, I traveled up the coast of California to Gorda, going camping with Chuck and ‘Nell and the Normandie Village gang. They were so well prepared that they packed our own personal logs with us in the back of the van for seating and burning purposes. On the way up there, they were playing Jimmy & Carol Owens’ “Come Together” album and Chuck said more than once he had both hands in the air praising the Lord and didn’t know who was driving around all those curves.

Gorda was barely more than a bump in the road, a general store and a gas station. It was up Highway One, near Hearst Castle and San Simeon where my family had visited before. When I looked in the black notebook of my early poems to see if I had written a poem about Gorda, all I found was a list. But it’s nice list! Here it is.

“I feel like somebody took four days and summed me up.
Camelot with Danny
Sara’s blessed heart
Mike and Amen
Jesus music in the van, Highway One
Gorda and the country store
Ocean, spray on the rocks, sea otter
Sunset and hymns and Irish coast
Talk to Reid, campfire
Communion (Melody, Nance)
Jim Reynolds
Bali Hai and pomes
Ride home in the Riviera
I make you a present of my finest trivia.”

I did write a little short thing that sounds like I wrote it there. I think I wrote it for Mike Johnston, since he had just arrived in my life and so quickly gone away again.

“the sun sparkling a path on the ocean,
the rush of the surf in my ears
the majesty of it all, overwhelmed me
like your coming
was the spray on the rocks
startling, fresh, magical
I couldn’t know that
like the sea, your caress was your going.”

Oh, look! I did indeed write a poem about Gorda, and I just found it, and if the reader is weary of thirty year old teenaged poetry, he or she has my personal permission to skip the next installment with impunity.

To Naomi
on Being Unable to Write
There are some days
when all my sense are fresh
and every leaf and drop
of water comes clearer
and sharper
and my soul expands
to fill up the forest
and there ain’t a thing to say
I mean, I try,
but to talk about the miracle
of the brook and the
diamond sparkle of the waterfall
and the ethereal stained glass
blue jeans and football and
somebody pickin’ a guitar)—
somehow it diminishes the feeling
yet I want to record
this magic time
this wrapped-in-brown-paper present
of two days in Eden/Bali Hai

o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o

Kenny Waters and I had long been friends because he was so in love with Sara. They never actually dated, but they certainly enjoyed flirting and hanging around each other. Jimmy Hahn (whose sister Janice we’d known since I was eleven) and Kenny were fraternity brothers in Sub-Ts, and they decided they wanted to find a couple of dates for an Elton John concert at the Hollywood Bowl. A friend of Danny’s and mine, Virginia Burch, was a frizzy blond with a joyful, exuberant personality and plenty of social skills, and since both the guys had known me, the decided to ask us out.

I wish, oh how I wish, I could have relaxed and enjoyed that evening! It could have made such a difference in the path my relationships took, but alas, I depended totally on Virginia to provide the social oil, and I actually hated the concert. Sadly, I found it impossible to rise above my disappointment with Elton. Danny and I had seen him in a little club in Hollywood before hardly anyone else had heard of him, in the fall of 1970. We had loved his first two albums, and Danny had learned to play some of the songs on the piano, especially Tumbleweed Connection. His early music fit with our mellow, gentle, quiet “music to make out by” preferences.

That night, Elton came out to the world. He was wearing foot-high boots, spangles, his signature giant sunglasses, and he was introduced by drag queens costumed as Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth, and several other icons. It frrreaked me totally out. I hated everything about that performance, the music, the spirit of the show, the costuming, the antics.

Since I did not know how to flirt or play comfortably with the guys, and absolutely hated the concert, I was a genuinely bad date. So sad for Jimmy and Kenny, who had spent good money on the evening. Thirty years later, it was fun to say, “Yeah, I went out with the Mayor of L.A. when we were young.” After just one term in office, Jimmy lost the election this year, 2005, to his previous opponent, Villaraigosa. He did have an effective, though boring, term as L.A.’s mayor. You just can’t be boring and have a long career in L.A. politics. It’s a pity Janice couldn’t siphon off some of her humor and sparkle to Jimmy. She is still sitting on the L.A. City Council. A recent article, “Last Hahn Standing” was a good portrait of Janice in the L.A. Times and quoted our old friend Sara Young Jackson as witness, since Marilyn is no longer with us.

Escape to Heidelberg

It was now May 2, 1973 and Chip called. “Why don’t you use the other half of the ticket you came home on at Christmas, come back to Heidelberg, live in the Moore Haus and study German for the summer?” I don’t know, maybe I should. That was a Wednesday, and the following Saturday I was on a plane to Germany. I thought it would be fun. Sara and Marilyn, Janie Epp and Caren Hauser would be there.

Caren was a member of Naomi’s sorority, but we had really just gotten to know her that semester in Malibu. She was a senior who had zeroed in on Sara and created a quick and close friendship. So Marilyn would have Janie, Sara would have Caren, and no one in the Moore family could see the recipe for disaster therein. No, Chip and Sharyn and I made a foolish choice in terms of relational happiness. I wonder if Momma asked Chip to invite me to get me away from Danny. It never occurred to me till now, but I’ll never know.

In a journal about six years later, I wrote, “Without Danny, I felt I had come out into the fresh air. It wasn’t only the frustration of failing as a woman with him (and neither one of us fully realized why that was happening). It was that, in order to survive in the relationship, I had stopped thinking. Because there was no freedom to communicate, there was no motivation to have thoughts, and so slowly I fell into blank-mindedness more and more often. Then my desire for physical communication became as well a need for experience, because the life of my mind had grown dull. In a way, I’m grateful I learned how to just be, during those years – how to sit and absorb my environment and be with people without great shyness and without a compulsion to talk. But it was sad because I felt that my self was not acceptable.

“A lesson I learned was the difficulty of timing a talk. If I got ‘heavy’ in the morning, Danny would say it was too early, and if it was after ten at night, when I began to come more emotionally alive, it was too late. Of course the truth was there was no time to ‘get heavy’ successfully. (I’ll not forget the joy, the near-bliss of waking up in Mike’s room at YDS that December morning, 1973, and starting to Talk as if we’d been at it all night and had just paused to catch our breath. Lord, I can’t believe You did that – You gave me that present, that gift of a trip to Connecticut for Christmas that year. How nuts.)”

[Note to Reader: We’re not at that point in the story yet, but we’ll get there.]

In my Travel Log I wrote, “Walking into Chip and Sharyn’s apartment at Moore Haus seemed so natural. I had Nona’s room instead of C&S’s couch, and that’s a tremendous blessing. Had to go get posters from Ali Baba and ivy and etc. before the room didn’t depress me, but I love it now. A deep green forest outside my convent window (Mike
[i] whistling every time he comes up the stairs); the Girls Waking Up every time I’d like to sleep; playing the heavy after shower hours (Who ever heard of shower hours?) and ssshing people all the time.[ii] Just Wilmas[iii], every one of them. A delightful life.

“Chip drove me to Collegium Palatinum to meld mich an (register me). Took a placement test and praise the Lord, made Stiefe IIb, so if I passed the course I could get a Zeugnis (certificate). Twenty-eight hours a week. Unmöglich. (Impossible.) Every morning during the week (except for several sleep-drenched vacations) I groaningly get up by 7:30, get dressed and set out for school. Down the steps, watching for slugs. (One horrible morning the summer before, I had run all the way down the seventy steps to the front gate of Moore Haus in my bare feet, without my contacts in, to answer the bell, and had squished a giant slug between my toes. Hideous.)

“Out the gate and to the right down the tilted sidewalk past my favorite house with the great ivy, the Juliet balcony, stained-glass turret and the crazy little man on the water spout (a gargoyle, for Pete’s sake). Across the road, a Renaissance gazebo. Then the steps down to Altstadt (the terrific lion it took me days to discover); Kornmarkt, and the Mittwoch Markt bei Heiliggeist
[iv]. Through the Türmen and over the bridge. Die Alte Brucke: sparkling water and the swans, wind whipping my hair, traffic either slow bicycles or crazy people trying to almost hit you and each other as they pass in their Citroens or Mercedes or BMWs (Look out for the orange ones, they’re pervert territory.). Down the block past the lilacs and up more stairs to Holderlinweg and the building where Chip used to live with Englisches Institut called Sonnenbühl. In through the doors and past the international intrigue in the hall, to our classroom. My place was in front of the windows, so I froze when it was time for ventilation. But when it got warmer, that was the best place to be.

“Forty-five minutes Unterricht and then fifteen Pause
[v]. At first in the Pauses I would go down to the garden, but the leaves got so thick I couldn’t watch the river any more, and I used the Pauses for letter writing mostly.

“At lunch, it was Christine and Joe and Jota and me to the Mensa, the University of Heidelberg cafeteria. The group varied, and there was also the shy young Turk who often went at the same time. After the second day of class, I never spoke any English, except when at a loss for any other way to explain an idea. I was proud of our class – among ourselves we stuck to German, but the others would speak Turkish and French and Danish etc. at all the Pauses.

“Frau Arndt was our main teacher. Every morning but Thursday, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. She was such a kind woman. Strict enough to be legitimately German, but always with an encouraging twinkle in her eye. Reminded me of a Grimms’ fairy godmother. The same two or three outfits for the whole two months she spent with us. She always looked crisp, girlish because of the lock of black hair that fell across her forehead. Frau Haas, French in a way I didn’t much like and not a bit imaginative, took us the other times, and then way through, Herr Hildebrand with the holes in his jeans and the cold
[vi] in his nose took over and joked his way through June.

“In that one class we had students from Chile, Italy, Poland, Egypt, Hong Kong, Turkey, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Indonesia, Nigeria and Greece. I was the only American. If you speak German, check the Endnotes for some of my favorite German words and phrases from that summer, along with Rätseln und Witze.
[vii] Waiting with knocking knees and giggles and silence for our individual mundliche Prüfung[viii], Ibrahim passed out plain paper and suddenly we were having friendly little international paper airplane war.

On the Bergbahn (a little funicular up the side of the mountain which I splurged on several times that summer) on Friday after school, I was practically by myself in the silent train when on clicks the conductor’s microphone. In a radio voice, delightfully like Sgt. Schulz on Hogan’s Heroes, a man is singing, “How mmmuch iss ze doggie in ze Vindow?” and the microphone clicks off again. Then, as always, like nothing unusual had happened, when we arrived at the top, the regular mechanical announcement, “Llllinks umsteigen, vorsicht an den Türen, Türen offen automatisch.
[ix]” Click.

I wished I could have hugged him.

Since I wasn’t a Pepperdine student, I wasn’t on their meal plan, so I often ate supper by myself. I really had no money again for food, as had obtained the previous summer. I had discovered Quark, which has a consistency somewhere between yogurt and sour cream, and my favorite was called Frühlings Quark (springtime) because it had dill and green onions and other spices in it. I would spread that on Vollkornbrot (whole grain bread, thin dark brown slices packed with moist wheat berries). And I would splurge on a bottled Coke from the vending machine in the basement for 50 pfennigs (about a quarter of a dollar at the time). I would sit at the little table in my room and read and eat my meal and be most content in the quiet while everyone was gone to the Burgfreiheit for supper.


[i] This was Mike Boyd, a student I met in Heidelberg that summer; Mike Johnston I had met in Malibu, and he had just left for Yale University.
[ii] There was a serious, though illegitimate, reason for that. Chip and Sharyn had asked me, “Are those baby elephants up there, or do the girls rearrange all the furniture every night?” Unfortunately, the room where Sara and Caren and Marilyn and Janie lived was directly over Chip and Sharyn’s apartment. And unfortunately, I wasn’t mentally healthy enough to know that it was decidedly not my responsibility to control the girls in order to accommodate Chip and Sharyn.
[iii] “Wilma” was Caren Hauser’s favorite affectionate yet pointed expression for a foolish, nerdy or irritating girl. Her name for similar men was “Rodney”.
[iv] The Wednesday Market (fruit, vegetables, flowers, small merchandise) next to the Holy Ghost Church.
[v] Unterricht = lesson; Pause = break (pronounced pow-za)
[vi] Older but wiser me thinks it was possibly not a cold in his nose, but I didn’t know about sniffable drugs at that age.
[vii] “Die Kinder lernen die Sprache wie ein Papagei.”
“Ich muss ein Papagei kaufen.”
“Aber vielleicht kann er kein Deutsch sprechen.”

“Würstchen, mit umlaut?”
“Nein, mit Brötchen.”

“Wie ist es in Ägypten?”
“Es ist normal.”

Möchtest du ein Schlug?
Es ist typisch, immer müde in Heidelberg zu sein.
Ich will kein bürgerliches Mann.
Das kann Mann sagen.
Das ist blöde.
Er ist unser Stern.
Er möchtet ein kleine Sultan werden.
Es is NICHT klar.
Alles ist egal.
Ich bin ganz konfus.
Na ja, machen wir weiter.
Lassen sie ihn mal.
So, bis Morgen.
siemlich shwierig…
eine schone Spaziergang auf Philosophenweg
der Täter, der Mann der die Tat getan hat…
die Zöpfen – braids
das Geländer – banister
die Entwicklung – process
trampen – hitchhike

[viii] Oral Exam
[ix] “Exit left, careful at the doors, doors open automatically.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I always seemed to be getting a bit of encouragement from an unexpected source. I loved getting mail in Heidelberg. It was the first time I developed a mail addiction. In came a postcard dated September 19th from, surprise, Danny Jackson! He had shocked everybody and married Sally Hamilton, the Columbia Christian College Homecoming Queen, then Pepperdine’s Homecoming Queen, and one of the girls Matt Young had dated. Now D.J. and Sal lived in a tiny town in northern California called Hayfork. (I wondered sometimes if he moved there just for the name.) Danny Jackson wrote these bracing words:

“We live here now. Naomi just called and is experiencing the feelings of apprehension and nostalgia one feels before leaving for a long time. It’s a Sunday afternoon, Sam just left for the railroad and I’m listening to Gordon Lightfoot. Good time to write you.
“We all think of you and miss you. Take every opportunity you can to experience new things. If you have difficulty choosing between two situations, take the one that demands the most action, the one least comfortable. Keep praying — Danny.”

Oddly enough, Naomi Harper, who couldn’t afford to come to Heidelberg as a student, managed to come instead that same fall as a missionary. Ted Thomas was another friend of Danny Jackson’s, and the preacher at the local German Church of Christ, the Heidelberg Gemeinde Christi. Naomi showed up to serve as Ted’s secretary. A quote from a journal: “Do you know, Naomi’s being Ted Thomas’s secretary and all was my idea in the first place. I mean I just sort of wrote a letter for a joke and mentioned it to Ted. And now everybody’s acting like the Lord did it…”

Ted and Jane-Anne found Naomi a room to rent in the upstairs of an old lady’s house, in walking distance of the church. They and their little boy Todd actually lived in the church building, in an apartment that my dad had designed when he built that building some twenty-five or thirty years before. I wrote them a whole long poem/meditation on Heidelberg, that building, my dad, Moore Haus…but for mercy’s sake, I won’t insert it in this manuscript. If you really want to read it, it’s in the Appendix.

At first it was really fun having Naomi there. She and Danny Blair and I had hung around each other so much that we naturally thought we would do the same in Heidelberg. We did go to Paris together, and Munich, and London, because she and he and I bought Dave Rice’s van, together with Sunny Lindsay and John Baker and Phil Lowe. Splitting $500 six ways made the transportation deal appear pretty cheap. What we could not predict is that each and every time we took her out, the Blaue Bus conked out on us.

We were all relatively poor, or at least frugal, and I learned from traveling how to take great joy in little blessings. One day Sunny bought a tube of mayonnaise (I had never seen it in a tube before!), and a tomato and an avocado, and that made the most luxurious feast with bread and cheese. We sat in a park and relished the sun and were so grateful for our little repast. Most of the time it was just stale Brötchen, cheese and apples, sometimes with water, sometimes with wine.

The first day in Munich, it was icy cold and we all had on jeans, which we learned are a bad idea in an icy cold wind. The van had gotten us to Munich and then died. We had no idea what to do with it. Not one of us had any mechanical knowledge. Our only tool was prayer, so those of us who prayed took responsibility and appealed to Heaven for assistance. Inexplicably, the van started up, and we were on our way. We returned to Herrenchiemsee, where I had been that summer with the girls.

With an air of childlike excitement, Phil Lowe was always saying “Letchgoshmokesomehash” and this trip was no exception. Out at Herrenchiemsee, the sun had come out and it was beautiful if still a bit chilly. We drove up to the ferry and found out we would have to wait awhile, so of course Phil suggested a return to the van for some chemical enhancement. I had been sitting in closed rooms, on the beach and in cars when other people were smoking marijuana now for three years and had always declined the invitation to partake. But this time, I asked to try a few hits.

I wandered around outside by myself for awhile, as we waited on the ferry. There was a field over to our right, with a wonderful old wooden fence, wildflowers and weeds, and to our left was a forest. I stepped into the forest, and it was like an enormous room that went on and on, with the ceiling made of tree tops, but all the tree trunks bare a long way up before the branches started. And the floor of the forest was all neat and clean! Somebody had straightened up the forest! I didn’t know at the time that this was a German tradition. Old people on Sunday afternoons would go out and tidy up the woods, as a sort of public service and good exercise to boot. It was magical. It felt like an enchanted place, so that if you walked into it, anything could happen.

After we got back in the bus, I asked them, “So, guys, what’s the feeling you’re going for? Here’s what it felt like to me. Everything looked a bit clearer, it made me feel like things were sort of in slow motion, I appreciated the water droplets on the fence and the flowers.” “Yeah, that’s it,” they assured me. “Oh, well, I can do that for myself anytime. Now I know I don’t need hash.”

On the way out of Munich, the Blaue Bus died again. It just so happened that we were able to roll into a large parking lot, and we sat there freezing and waiting, again without a clue as to what to do next. Suddenly a guy in a track suit pulled up in his Mercedes (the car was the same champagne color as his track suit, if memory serves) and jumped out. He went to his trunk, pulled out some tools, opened up the back of the van where the engine was, tinkered a moment, packed back up and drove away. Never a word exchanged. “An angel in a track suit!” is all we could say. And away we drove, north toward Heidelberg.

The next trip, to Paris, we were driving through the French countryside, passing little town after little town, when nature called and we stopped at a restaurant. Entering, we asked if we could use the facilities, and the owner shrieked at us that we could do what the animals do and go outside. This exchange tended to reinforce our image of the stereotypical Frenchman, so when our van did break down and we were still outside Paris, we felt some despair. It happened that it broke down quite near a garage, but it was Friday afternoon and the garage at just that moment was closing its doors. We were stranded - it looked like for the whole weekend - in a little village called Clermont en arq.

We stood along the street looking dejected and an old lady passing by said, in perfect American English, “Can I help you? What seems to be the problem?” Turned out she had been a hairdresser in New York for thirty years, only returning to France after her American husband died, and she would be glad to do what she could for us. She proceeded to go over to the great locked metal door of the garage and bang on it. She hollered in French to the owner that he had to open up and help us, that our whole weekend would be wasted in this little town…who knows what she said to him. Somehow, she persuaded him to open back up.

We felt so indebted to her, and practical Sunny found a way to repay her kindness. She noticed that the lady’s toes were sticking out of her big leather shoes. Sunny asked about them, and the lady explained that she couldn’t find shoes to fit her in this small town. So we took her address, and when we got back to the States we sent her a new pair of shoes in her size. Meanwhile, the garage owner fixed the van, and we went on to Paris. We stayed in the Hotel du Commerce, we climbed the Eiffel Tower at sunset, but my favorite restaurant from the previous trip was closed and we found no affordable culinary delights that weekend. Naomi and I found a little teddy bear in the Metro and gave it to Danny Blair for his birthday.

The next adventure, London, needs a bit of prologue to provide the full effect. It happened one night that some of us were sitting in Seppl, Heidelberg’s oldest pub, down a few stairs in the back room, when we noticed a couple of older (maybe in their thirties?) American travelers sitting near us. We decided to fake them off and speak German. Finally, though, we broke down and spoke English to them, and am I glad we did!

These guys revealed that they had gotten their Masters in Psychology at Pepperdine. In the course of conversation they said, “Hey, if you’re ever in London, you need to stay with a lady we met. Her name is Mrs. Maude Rose. Her address is 10 Derwent Grove, East Dulwich, SE 22, London. You take the 185 bus from Victoria Station to the East Dulwich station and then you can walk from there. If she likes you, she’ll even give you supper for free.” I had a bit of warning ahead of time that we were making this trip to London, so I wrote to Mrs. Rose and asked if she had room for six on the weekend we had planned. But there wasn’t enough time to hear back from her, so we left on the trip not knowing whether her house would be our landing place.

It was strange, having the van with us on the ferry. We took a Hovercraft for that trip across the Channel, it was a rough crossing, and I got exceedingly seasick with the unbelievably violent ups and downs. We drove up to London, somehow found Mrs. Rose’s row house, and knocked on her door. She appeared and grinned and said, “So you’re why the Lord had me up all last night cleaning!”

After we got settled, Naomi and I went and sat with Mrs. Rose in her parlor and she told us more. “You see, your letter arrived at my front door only this morning. So when the Lord told me to get ready for guests last night, I said, ‘But Lord, no one’s expected!’ And you see, He knew you were coming! So He had me up late changing the linens and readying the place for all of you.”

She told us about the state of the church there, how so many people were nominal members of the Church of England but didn’t attend church anywhere and really didn’t believe anything. She talked about the rather radical risk it was to belong to the smaller denominations, since there was so much disapproval and prejudice towards them, and what a minority they felt themselves to be.

Mrs. Rose had a fat little dog named Tina ("Teee-na!") and in order to get Tina to do anything at all, Mrs. Rose would offer her a cookie. “Here’s a biscuit, Tina, come here now, good girl!” It occurred to me, rather hilariously, that the day would come when her cookie intake would outweigh Tina’s ability to respond, and Tina would no longer be able to “Come here!” no matter what was offered her.

Mrs. Rose did indeed decide that she “liked us” so the next evening we were expected back promptly at 7:00 pm for supper. Beef Wellington, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, salad, and apple pie for dessert – it was an outrageous feast and I think she let us contribute about £1 apiece to help with the expense. My favorite moment during the meal, in which my hippie friends were mostly silent and gorging themselves, was when she was handing out the dessert. The apple pie was accompanied by a large bowl of real whipped cream, and as she entered the dining room from the kitchen, she saw one of us in dire need of instruction. “Don’t mess it about, just plop it on!” she cried dramatically, as if it were an absolute sin against the integrity of the dessert to fool around with one’s whipped cream.

On this trip I got to see Godspell again in English, with Naomi and Danny at my side. We had all loved it in L.A., had been to see it together there more than once, and it was incredible that we could share the same sweet fellowship in London. In L.A., at intermission, the actors distributed bread and wine to the audience, and we had thought it was so cool, although a tad bit scary, to experience Communion in such a light-hearted setting. It made me sad that the London director wasn’t comfortable with the implied resurrection of Jesus, and left it out.

After we ran out of time and money for travel, we settled back into the routine of classes and meals. One day it snowed and someone took this picture out of Danny’s window. (I’m not saying I didn’t break the rules and visit the Boys’ Floor – I think a bunch of us did, just to get a good view of Heidelberg in snow.)

We didn’t see much of Naomi. I didn’t go downtown to visit her often because it was such a hike back up that hill, and she almost never came up to visit me. Eventually, after supper one night together at the Burgfreiheit, she and Danny and I were walking back to Moore Haus and we took a detour. We went up into the hillside on a little footpath, in the midst of all the bare winter trees, and at some point stopped and sat on the ground and were silent for awhile in the dark. The gorgeous, crystalline Glöckenspiel across the river rang out, and the winter night air was so clear and crisp that it felt like the stars were tinkling fairy music from the sky.

Naomi spoke up and said, “I need to break up with you. It hurts too much to be your friend. You don’t have time for me, and I just need to be alone with the Lord.”

I was shocked, and devastated. No one had ever “broken up with me” before except Danny the first summer in that letter, and that hadn’t lasted long. I had probably never bonded with a friend as closely as I had with Naomi, she was so vulnerable and passionate and dramatic, and now she was trying to rip those heart ties out of my chest. (I didn’t realize at the time how much trouble she was having being with Danny and me…she had started to fall in love with him, and she felt sure I wasn’t appreciating him enough. She even wrote a poem to him expressing her desire to be with him, and shared it with me.)

Danny listened silently as we talked back and forth. I attempted to talk her out of it. It didn’t really work. When we left Heidelberg not long afterward, in December, Naomi stayed for the following semester, kept working for Ted as a secretary, and then returned to L.A. in the spring.

o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o

In the summer, I had roomed with Betty White in a sunny, bright room with a big window. In the fall, I was moved into a larger, darker room where Barb Henderson slept across from me, and two more girls shared a “porch” room connected to ours by windows and a doorway. I think this bed, built into the wall, with a shelf and bookcase, is my favorite so far in life. Next to it was my built-in closet (Shrank). Note the institutional chair next to the bed, shipped all the way from California. Art by Danny Blair and Arthur Rackham are featured on the wall, along with Charlie Chaplin as The Little Tramp, and there’s an Advent wreath with four lit candles on the shelf. The blue curtains lent a bit of privacy to the girls in the “porch” room.

At Christmas, I was hoping that Danny would come with me to Nashville and let me experience how it would feel being around my relatives with a boyfriend. But by the time school ended, we were not exactly feeling cozy, and he decided to go to Rome for Christmas with some of the other students. I had a few days in Moore Haus between the end of classes and my departure for Nashville and then California. I enjoyed having free time to wander around Heidelberg by myself. I bought some Weinbrandbohnen[i] and portioned them out a few each day, and cuddled under my striped Decke in my built-in cabinet bed and read. I had never been introduced before to the Chronicles of Narnia, and in this little vacation break I devoured them. I already loved C.S. Lewis but now he drew me in with his vivid imagination and his deep experiential knowledge of how it feels to have a relationship with a God who “is not a tame Lion.” So here I am, Christmasing in Nashville in 1972. Note my mom’s red net holiday “hostess” apron! Those were the days.

Talk about culture shock. It wasn’t nearly so hard to move from L.A. to Heidelberg as it was to return from Heidelberg to Malibu. I had been wandering Europe in the same two pairs of jeans (I thought we invented the joke about our jeans walking off by themselves) and old sweaters and long hair and leather boots. I hadn’t worn a bra in eight months. (Too much information, I know, but I have to explain the extreme cultural jolt to my system.) Because we were so poor, we bathed irregularly when traveling, which we did half of each week.

Malibu was a new country altogether. All the girls were tan and blond and thin, and all their daddies were rich. You could see it in their clothes and their cars and their attitudes. Who recruited that first freshman class? The admissions people were just cruel. I had never been comfortable living in straight-blond-hair-and-very-tan-California, but I had grown accustomed to feeling like a misfit. Now, in only eight months, I had quit thinking about fitting in, and started feeling comfortable just being myself, and I couldn’t stand the thought of squeezing back into that uncomfortable, impersonal, not-interested-in-who-I-am-inside mold.

Danny, poor Danny, really felt it worse than I did, because he hurt me by saying, “You’re really embarrassing me. Would you put on a bra?” one day after he had become painfully aware of the new environment. I tried to fit in, but the clothes I always chose when my mom was paying for it tended toward girlish, in reaction to her suggesting old lady styles. The following year, when I made some of my own money, I could finally buy some upscale hippie-ish things that I liked and felt comfortable in. (Here’s a set of ID cards that display a certain transformation from freshman to senior.)

I did enjoy one thing about being back in California, and that was salad. European restaurants gave a nod to salad with a few limp pieces of lettuce at best, but now I was in the land of fourteen kinds of greens and three kinds of peppers, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, fresh mushrooms, red onion, croutons and American dressings! I was in salad heaven. And I was introduced to jicama, a white root that was crunchy and juicy and tasted something like a mild, sweet radish. I craved the freshness.

We discovered a restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway, halfway between Pepperdine and Santa Monica, called Moonshadows. It had the most wonderful wood interior, fabulous ceiling, inlaid wooden tables, and the entire restaurant faced the ocean. When the tide was high, the waves would beat against the floor beneath us. Sunsets out those windows were gorgeous. The lobster was incredible, because it was broiled on the grill along with teriyaki steaks, and there was a wonderful fresh salad bar, brown rice, and fresh hot bread, both brown and sour dough.

Since we were poor college students, my mom was concerned about our spending so much money on meals. Caren Houser, a college friend of ours, and I both really loved the lobster, so we asked the manager if he would consider selling us one lobster tail instead of two, and price it as a “child’s plate”. We suggested that he lower the price from $8 to $4, and, lo and behold, he did it! A couple of years later we noticed that the “child’s plate lobster” was an official item on their menu. Another mark made on L.A. cultural history.

Caren, Sara and I were all discovering a new, refreshed or deepened relationship with Jesus, and our lunches and dinners would often turn into Bible studies or passionate “preaching” sessions. From my Church History class with Richard Hughes, I borrowed a name for our group, The Humble Order of Preaching Sisters. We would whip out our pocket-sized Bibles or New Testaments and go at it with joy and excitement. What happy, yearning, adventurous times those were. One night Caren told me, “I’m having a date night with the Lord” and it was the first time it had occurred to me that you really could plan to spend time with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit just like you would with another friend…out of desire, rather than obligation (the infamous “quiet time” that serious Christians were supposed to schedule into their day).

One quite odd occurrence involved then-President of Pepperdine Bill Banowsky. (Norvel was now Chancellor, and later on became Chancellor Emeritus.) I had been around Bill for years but we’d never had much personal conversation. Maybe Norvel or someone told him I was “smart”. Anyhow, one day he called to ask if I would be willing to do some research for him. I don’t recollect what topic I was researching; I think it was quotes for a speech he was preparing to give. The working relationship didn’t last long, but I was not disappointed by that, just amazed that he had considered using me in that way at all.

That first trimester back in Malibu, even though my mother lived just off campus down the hill in the DeVille Way condos, she let me live in the dorm. We both thought it might be too hard for me to live at home again after having been on my own. The only problem with this plan is that I was put in a freshman dorm. Those girls just started coming alive at about midnight or 1 a.m., whereas I was trying to be a responsible adult and get up at 5:00 a.m. to walk down to the cafeteria to work by 6:00 each morning. It was also tough to concentrate with so much racket, so I learned to study in the library instead.

That crack-of-dawn job was quite an experience. Alice Robertson, a lively, red-headed motherly woman, was the chief baker and I worked for her. (I later found out her son conducted the Jerusalem Symphony. You just never know who it is you are standing next to in this life.) The most memorable week was marked by our making six thousand cookies (two thousand each of oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chip – no kidding, that was the order for one reception). Every morning one of my tasks was dishing the rubbery Jello. I hate to mention that my hands got stained orange and yellow and green, because that must mean I wasn’t wearing gloves. Things have changed in the food service industry since then.

Oh, the sunrises that I joyfully witnessed morning after morning. You could watch the sun rise over the ocean out the huge windows of the cafeteria, and all that spring at supper time you could also watch the sun set through those same windows. Nature in Malibu was glorious, my heart was so sensitized to it, and the ocean that had always been a normal part of my life became even more precious because I got to see it every day in so many lights and weathers.

I had a roommate from Nigeria who was a sweet girl with a terrible problem. She had sickle cell anemia, which I had not heard of before. One night she had a really bad attack, and I sat up with her until dawn, when she finally let me go to the resident advisor who called an ambulance. She had not wanted to go to the hospital, but that’s all that could be done for her – sedate her for a couple of days until the pain had passed. As I sat with her for hours, stroking her hair and praying, I sang this song over and over. It helped me overcome my natural desire to block out her pain and go back to sleep.

“Would you be poured out as wine upon the altar for Me?
Would you be broken as bread to feed the hungry for Me?
Would you be so one with Me that I might do just as I will?
Would you be light and life and love, My Word fulfill?”

Another girl I met that spring turned out to play a significant role for awhile in my later life. Beckie Foster was a student at Malibu that year, also living in the dorms, but she was from Nashville and knew “my people.” I think her family even attended my uncle V.M.’s congregation at Vultee. At any rate, Beckie played guitar and sang, so we would get together in the lobby of her dorm and sit around singing and playing from time to time.

Beckie was a sweetheart, and I’m so delighted to say she finally settled down with a tender-hearted songwriter feller in Nashville. They both have done very well as writers. But in her early years of building a career, she was working non-stop. She hired a decorator to make her home lovely, but she was hardly ever there to enjoy it. She even hired someone to grocery shop for her, so that if she ever happened to land in her condo for meal, there would be something in the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator.

In the late ‘Seventies, she invited me to visit her on the set of the Marty Robbins TV show, where she was singing background vocals for lots of country acts. Witnessing her life helped me make a decision about whether or not to pursue the music career that had by then fallen into my lap. I learned that she could never say “No” to a producer or an artist, because they would easily find someone else to hire. After much consideration, and trying it out for a few years, I chose not to live that way. I didn’t want to feel I had no choice in how I spent my hours and days, and I didn’t want to achieve all the financial and environmental rewards of such a lifestyle but have no time of my own to enjoy them.

[i] Brandy beans, dark chocolate in a curved “bean” shape, filled with brandy. Some people like the inside lined with sugar crystals, but I like them without, “ohne Kruste.”

Friday, March 10, 2006

I wrote a letter to Naomi that summer:
“It seems like distance sometimes encourages people’s possessiveness, but for me it teaches freedom – a greater ability to wish your happiness to be less related to me (though it’s always nice to be related to). A wish that you be blessed by other people and, through other people, by God. A wish for your peace, and joy.
“Songs have such pretty words. We listened to some albums today, old Judy Collins and Joan Baez – the words are truer now for me, and just as sweet. Was your visit with Judy [Clark] great?

“After church Wednesday night I went to Ted and Jane-Anne’s and we and some ‘Project Germany’ missionary kids from OCC (who are funny but great) sang some and then I spent the night (with the fish tank burbling away in Todd’s room). Next day Jane-Anne and I spent washing, the kitchen mainly, and dealing with Todd, who is sweet but difficult and whines a good bit. It was slightly depressing, though I kept reminding myself that I would do things differently, and that it’s so much easier when the babby, brat or husband is yours, and you love them like you should. Blessing: in the middle of kitchen cleaning Jane-Anne wanted to wash my feet, so she did. Great in terms of peace and humbleness, and feeling close. (Such a blessing!)

“The Goynes are neat. Matt used to say he would have to marry a Church of Christ girl, because without the C. of. C. you would lose your richest source of mutual humor. Sad, but sarcasm is the modern-day prophet’s language of sorrow and warning.

“Joni Mitchell is a gentle, patient nymphomaniac. Naom, you only misspell important woids, and my barely educated mind loves it. There are dreams for dreams (retaining sparkle) and dreams to live for physical real (A farm!
[i] A school!…)”

0 ~ o ~ 0 ~ o ~ 0

In the middle of July, Herr Schmidt and the guys at the next-door fencing fraternity, Franconia, had a bet and they both lost. (The bet was concerning the question, “What color are the flowers in the hallway of the fraternity house?”) So they split the cost of a keg (a Faß) and invited us to come to the party too. In German, with the help of Rosita, I was trying to explain to a semi-drunk fraternity member my freedom in Jesus not to demand my women’s rights. It would have made a great movie. I had a sweet Bierkuß from Rosita’s boyfriend Günter, and met “John’s woman.” (“I’m going to the comfort of my woman,” he liked to say.) Sally and Mikhael, and Russ’s sister Laura were there too, Laura of the New York jeans, the first jeans I ever met that faded purple instead of blue.

That weekend, Ted Thomas drove up to the house to pick me up at 6:00 am, and greeted me with, “I brought us an orange.” Not much conversation, but he did drop a Kurt Vonnegut quote, so it was convenient that I had already read Cat’s Cradle. “I wonder why my karass is catching up with me,” quoth Ted. Ted drove us to Frankfurt, we met Momma at the plane, and we traveled with Friedel to Gemünden in the VW. Mom’s best friend, Irene, and Momma and I walked out into the fields full of millions of wild flowers, buggy but gorgeous. They reminded me of Terrell, Texas. Of course I had to gather a bunch for her room. We had just enough time together to rediscover some of our old forgotten disagreements, when one of the men at the camp took me to the Bahnhof.

I made it back to Heidelberg just in time for Walter Schiffer’s feast at Burgfreiheit. Somehow he managed to produce lobster, and some suspiciously alcoholic-tasting punch. Walter Schiffer was quite a character. He was older than the rest of us, but a student. He was a corpulent, wealthy guy who reminded me a lot of the later Orson Welles. He was walleyed like Chill Wills, so you could never be sure if he was really looking at you or not. A year or two later he hosted a Heidelberg reunion party at his West Hollywood mansion. It was quite something.

Here’s a portrait of our summer group. From top left, Herr Dr. Herbert Luft, upright Herr Glenn Boyd, clever John Lee, angry Gary Collins, sweet Ellen, ironic Steve, passionate Russ DiNapoli, me, my German teacher Frau Sabine Luft, and intellectually playful Dr. Grover Goyne. Seated from left are Jana from Texas, the intrepid Meredith Houts, the joyful Betty White, Sally Nursall (who I think later married Steve), laconic Nita Boverie, charming Rosita, and Mrs. Betty Goyne, patient dorm mother and leader of ladies’ Bible studies (really counseling sessions) and the two Goyne kids.

Back to Gemünden the next week to spend a bit more time with Momma. Dieter and Eva Alten I had met when I was ten, and they were so reserved and yet so evidently in love with each other. Their son Fritz was big and shy and sixteen years old. Dieter told me something I hadn’t heard yet about my dad. He said they developed a nickname for him, because his initials were “J.C.” and because he handled the money for the missionaries. He became known as “Josef Zacharias, Ritter von der Verschlossenen Hand” (“Knight of the Closed Hand”).

Hannchen and her friend who worked in the kitchen would get dressed up in the late afternoon and go into town for Kaffee und Küchen, and we went with them once. In the evening, there was always a campfire and singing. The boys at camp were so full of personality, and unspoiled, like I would imagine American farm boys might have been in the 1920s. We picked raspberries in the field and some intensely sweet strawberries, with the ladies wearing the traditional dirndls. I mentioned a sort of let-down to Momma and she understood. It was the first time I’d been away from home that long. She said, “That’s natural, when you’ve expected someone’s coming and then everything’s the same.” I wrote a poem about a conversation we had on that visit

Harvey Pruitt and his gang were there from Texas, so I finally got to meet him. He informed me that the story my folks had been telling on him all my life was apocryphal. But it was a great story! I hated to learn that it was not factual. The story went that Harvey was on ship coming to Germany for the first time, in the ‘Forties, and when he was seated for dinner, the person next to him said, “Guten Appetit.” Harvey thought the man was introducing himself, so he responded, “Harvey Pruitt.” The next evening, the same exchange. “Guten Appetit.” “Harvey Pruitt.” The third night, someone had informed Harvey that his dinner partner was actually hoping that he would enjoy his meal, wishing him a “Good appetite.” So this time he pre-empted the stranger. “Guten Appetit!” he exclaimed, and the German stranger responded, “Harvey Pruitt!” Oh well, apocryphal or not, I’ve told it for posterity.

Back in Heidelberg, we had our final group dinner at the Ritter, the fanciest hotel in town. Each of us had a favor at our place – mine was a little blue pitcher – as a going away present from Herbert and Sabine Luft. Herr Luft read Bob Dylan’s lyric, “All I really want to do is (baby) be friends with you,” in his semi-stilted way.
Then Herr Dr. Goyne said a few words, then Steve, and finally, Betty. “I know none of the other girls are going to…” she began, and thanked Betty Goyne for her long evening talks with some of us girls. John teased, “Sorry we can’t say the same for you, Dr. Goyne.” John’s humor later eased us into Dr. Goyne’s final essay test with, “These are all true or false questions, right?”

At the 25th Anniversary Dinner of the missionary group in Frankfurt, I sat with Momma and had such a strange experience, seeing Daddy’s image flash in the home movies Otis Gatewood showed of the missionary activities in the ‘Forties. Otis was sweet but maudlin in his usual way. Then goodbye to Momma, and on my own for four more months. Or so I thought.

o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o

I had to buy another Eurailpass to get me through the summer, so I traveled alone to Luxembourg and back in one day. I had six train changes instead of the one I had expected, but the day felt blessed, taken care of, with perfect timing and peace. I ate Goulaschsuppe and Brot at a train station. I read Your God is Too White and re-read A Second Touch by Keith Miller, and then a freak on the last train gave me a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House.

The next day, Nita Boverie and I left for Spain. She brought lemon yogurt for breakfast, and we bought first class tickets with a compartment to ourselves, complete with personal reading lights and footrests. Confusion at Pt. Bou around midnight. Our first real taste of Spain…now there were eight in a compartment to Barcelona, all smoking, with the bright overhead light on all night. They offered us their blood sausage but I declined. I felt so American, uncomfortable at having to touch knees. There were huge fields of sunflowers and dusty shacks alongside the train tracks, then finally the ocean.

We had to walk and walk with such heavy bags to our hotel, had a nap and then a quiet, shy dinner at the Cerviceria Bavaria where Nita introduced me to fried calamari… and that first experience has never been equaled (even in Savannah years later, where they were really good). Hilarious – we sat through Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman in Spanish, which was fine for Nita but like Greek to me. Hard to stay awake.

Next day we found the other girls, Betty and Meredith and Sally and Karen, and stood in line for hours in a big steamy ticket office to discover that yes, we could indeed get to Majorca, our desired destination, but only if we were willing to travel ten days from now. Very sad. On to lunch in the fancy restaurant next to the train station, and goodbye to Betty and Karen who were heading somewhere else. We found out that a song named “Gwendolyn” (Gween-do-leen!) was the winner of the EuroChart competition that year, the number one hit song of the summer.

On my birthday, August 5th, we bought reservations in addition to our Eurailpasses, and then sadly discovered that they meant absolutely nothing. When our train arrived, the Spanish folks glommed onto it like lemmings, and we barely got on at all. Slowly we adjusted to the fact that we would be sitting on our luggage or standing in a 4 x 12 foot green metal box, discretely curved, for the entire trip to Alicante.

For fourteen eventful hours, we went through pitch black tunnels with passengers attempting to crawl over us to get to the cold drinks car. They wouldn’t wait for the light to return, but continued their efforts even in the dark of the unlit tunnels, rather hilariously. We figured out that we were near the end of the train, which meant that most every passenger on that train was crawling over us at least once for the entire length of the journey, in search of a cold drink. At the last passenger stop, we screamingly welcomed a new cast of characters:

• Our own 5’4” Dickie Cavett, Joe Jeronimo
• His surly friend who looked like Joel Grey in Cabaret
• The nice old man accompanying them
• A small Don Juan named Jose Luis, alias Victor Mature
• His hare-lipped partner in seduction
• Elmer, our sometime Salvador
• And the terrific drunk who “guarded” the door
• Plus countless dozens who needed to use the WC, also part of “our compartment.”

I know it sounds like I’m making this up, like the act in the circus where clowns keep spilling out of a small car, but this really happened, and all those people were truly squished into this amazingly cramped space for hours on end with us three girls in our American jeans and our long American hair and no makeup. We later learned to our chagrin that women who looked like we did were considered whores in Spain. It was the women who actually dressed and made up like the ladies of the evening on the streets of America who were considered properly attired in Spain. Dangerous cultural disconnect!

The following are some of my sayings which were laughed at and appreciated by Meredith Houts. She was a great audience to have on a train in Spain.

“All those bananas!”
“Yeah, they really planned ahead.”
“Well, ten bananas don’t do much to help the seating arrangements.”

“Oh, what a birthday surprise…” (I sang this, shades of Leslie Gore)

“A watched watch never ticks.”

“We had to come to this place and time to be entertained all night by Andy Williams and Dixieland jazz on a Japanese cassette player.”

“I keep moving around on the luggage, but everywhere I go, I’ve been there before.”

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the train.” (Yes, the W.C. developed a leak in the ceiling, and soon the floor beneath our luggage was experiencing dampness as well.)

Elmer explained, after Don Juan made an unwelcome advance, “I told him, when you don’t read it in a woman’s face, you better keep out.”

As the guys left us at a 5:00 am stop, one of them handed me a small aluminum cross to keep as gift, and I thought, “Wow, he really got who I am! And I can’t speak a word of Spanish!” That was the first hint of an important revelation, that human persons could communicate spirit to spirit, heart to heart, without a total reliance on intellectual comprehension.

Finally, at 6:30 am, we arrived in Alicante! Off the train and onto the beach. Every hostel everywhere was full, so Nita broke out her dad’s American Express and said, “This one’s on me, girls.” The air-conditioned, carpeted miracle of Hotel Gran Sol was such welcome luxury. Six dollars a night, and such cool, such clean. We had breakfast, then a bath, then sleep, then dinner at dusk on the Boulevard. A little boy was selling gardenias and we bought some. Such peace and blessing.

Dumb, resourceful Meredith went looking the next morning and discovered the Residencia San Remo just before the checkout deadline, so we took ourselves out of the lap of American Express luxury and into a place with Character, and cheap too. We had our own private fountain, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. (It was my first bidet.) Poverty stricken again, we searched out cheap food. I bought some sandals, and some suntan lotion, and we found a piece of beach.

Nita was immediately stricken with disgust and paranoia because there were so many people on the beach. She decided to take the bus down the road to a less crowded place, were we drank bottled water and got a lobsterish sunburn. Cool, magical walk on the beach that night. We stayed four wonderful slow beachy days in Alicante.

A much easier train ride. We arrived in Granada at dusk and an old man propositioned us on the street. Why not? We followed him down back alleys and up stairs. Meredith didn’t mind that there was no lock on the door, and a bunch of creepy, salacious looking men in the lobby below, because it was cheap. Thank God, the other girls agreed with me and we moved on in spite of her. Back on the streets, a lady asked if we needed a place to stay. I felt bad for being suspicious when I saw her little girl run up to her. She clung closely to her mother as we walked, looking a bit ashamed of their situation.

There was no water in the pipes of Granada that night. The lady shared a glass of water from a jug with all of us. There were pictures of Richard Nixon and some movie queens on the peeling plaster walls, and squares of scissored newspaper in the bathroom for toilet paper. We took a taxi next day to the Alhambra up on the hillside, so cool and green and full of flowers. There were medieval Islamic mosaic fountains, but also crowds of Americans with their Instamatics and their cigarettes, taking pictures mostly of each other. After lunch, we saw Nita and Sally off on a train to Seville. I hated that they left. Now it was just Meredith and me, and we were off to Madrid.

Depression set it. We took a taxi to a hostel, had ice cream, walked to a park, rented a foot-pedal boat on the lake, had a big icy Limonade, got more depressed, wrote post cards (as above), had a Chinese dinner, felt sick and took a taxi to the hostel. I was so sick. Meredith wrote a note in Spanish to the manager explaining that I was sick, but the room service lady bawled me out in Spanish anyway because I had messed the bed in my sleep. Meredith was so kindbravecheerful, she brought me orange soda and mineral water and crackers, and a little bunch of paper roses. But I was So Sick. When I could finally get up for a little while, I took a bath and read TIME magazine. I was in bed for five days while Meredith toured Madrid.

My first day up, I tried to visit the Prado but it was closed, so Madrid for me was basically a bust. On the train, Meredith started feeling sick too. I slept on the floor, I was so miserable, between Meredith and a young Spaniard. We were mortified when we later realized he had probably understood most every word we said. (We had been discussing the private inner workings of bowels, etc.)

We saw the sunrise over the French Riviera, and had twelve more hours of misery to Barcelona. At least it wasn’t like the trip to Alicante. That would have been beyond intolerable. We purchased berths to Florence (Hurroar!) and had a delightful journey with a flirtatious porter. I made the decision to tell Meredith I was deserting her and returning to Heidelberg, and she understood.

Firenze was lovely and gorgeous. We could get clean again. Our hostel room had a balcony, and then we took a cool, dark walk through semi-deserted streets. We had dinner, with lasagna and red wine, and walked around the Duomo, perhaps our most impressive experience yet. We found some honeydew melon, then sleep.
Next morning, we wrote the book on How to See Florence in Five Fun-Filled Hours. We ran. We caught the “Angel with Mandolin” at the Uffizi Galley, and the gorgeous Botticellis; peeked inside the Duomo, found the “David” museum, bought a sweater in the marketplace, found a Christian bookstore where I bought a poster for my dorm room, and made it in time to the train station to send Meredith off by herself to the wilds of Greece by way of Yugoslavia. I bought some sandals Mom has asked to find at a shop called Lilly of Florence near the Ponte Vecchio, and I found a shirt for me.

o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o

On the way home to Heidelberg, I met a great Japanese lady from Walnut Creek, California who gave me some lire for water and shared a tomato and salt with me. Oh, the compassionate grace of fellow travelers. And she let me read her TIME magazine, which I’d been missing, which had something about Stockton in it. Danny Blair would arrive with Chip and Sharyn in Milano in just one week, and I was getting excited…and anxious.

“Alt Heidelberg, du feine, du Stadt an ehren Reich…”
“Old Heidelberg, you fine [thing]! You city of an honored realm…”

I took a taxi to Eckenerstraβe, where Herr und Frau Boyd lived. The Moore Haus was closed temporarily, with no faculty and no students officially there, so we had to stay in an apartment supervised by the Boyds, Harding graduates who had been missionaries in Germany for years. Of course I rang the doorbell at the crack of dawn, and of course Herr Boyd was planning to sleep in just this once, but as always his hair was impeccable. That man has apparently never woken up with bed hair a day in his life.

So fine to be home and relax. I was still feeling sick, so for the next week all I ate was lemon yogurt and peppermint tea, and a few tomato sandwiches. It was nice to be with Sally. We had some good talks. One night, though, we went over to Jane-Anne’s and the two of them starting talking about ghosty stuff (I don’t remember the topic). We had to walk home on a moonless night, with the street lights making weird shadows as the leaves of the trees blew in a breeze. By the time we went to bed I was thoroughly freaked.

Imaginations were racing through my mind, and I was seeing images coming at me in the dark. I apologized to Sally for turning on the light. I sat up in bed and read aloud from my Bible for awhile. She didn’t seem to mind at all, and finally my peace was restored. This was my first experience with actual spiritual warfare, where I used my sword instead of ending up the victim.

The next morning, we went window shopping, and then went into a listening room at a record store (just like America had in the ‘50s) to enjoy Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Firecat. “How can I tell you that I love you…I love you, but I can’t think of right words to say.” We went up the hill to have lunch at the Burgfreiheit and it was good to see the Schmidts again and eat their familiar cooking.

A few days later, on August 27th, it was finally time. I took the overnight train to Milano, spent the night coughing. I deeply appreciated a lady with pastilles trying to sooth my cough. A total freak-out when I saw their faces.

And there…the Travel Log ends. Not one word about the four months in Heidelberg with Danny and Chip and Sharyn. Apparently I was the same person then as I am now. When I’m in the midst of a relationship, I tend to turn away from writing. When that intensity wanes or ceases, then books become my friends again.
I don’t need a journal or travel log to remind me of our reunion that day. It was so incredible to see Danny Blair’s face again. He was feeling a bit shaky, being for the first time in a country where they didn’t speak English, not knowing anything about how to manage or what was expected of him.

We were sitting in someone’s living room (How did Chip and Sharyn know someone in Milano to visit? I don’t remember, but they always know someone to visit everywhere they go. Maybe it was one of Sharyn’s ESL students.) Danny and I wandered off from the living room, down a hall, into a dark side room, and slowly, tentatively drew together and took our first kiss. It was such a tender touch. We both sighed and said, “It’s been so long.” It was a chill bumps moment.

As we drove up from Milano toward Heidelberg, we stopped at Lugano, in the Italian part of Switzerland. Sharyn found a little store where they sold fresh mozzarella floating in a container of water, something I had never seen before. She bought some apples, some wine, a bit of bread, and we had a feast in our hotel room. Then when it was bedtime, Danny and I took one room, and they another.

It was too soon in the trip, we were still strangers to each other, and after just a moment of cuddling, we stopped and I said, “It would be sad,” and he agreed. Probably the shortest struggle for “sexual purity” in the history of mankind. We turned over and went to sleep. I still was thinking that our very limited physical relationship was a result of our strict upbringing and our respect for each other’s morality. It hadn’t occurred to me that any other dynamic was at work.

It wasn’t long at all before frustrations mounted. We had nothing to do until school started, and Danny seemed to feel so lost not knowing how to do anything, and I was feeling like such an “old hand” in comparison. I grew impatient with his dependency, and it all added up to hurt feelings. He felt I put him down. I felt irritated and frustrated that circumstances put me in the lead in a relationship that was already too passive for my personality. We couldn’t talk about it, because he didn’t “talk”. When the other students started arriving and he could escape to the men’s floor, he started back to doing dope, as he had our freshman year, but he didn’t tell me about it. So that put another wall between us.

Now expectation reared its ugly head and caused more pain. Here I was, in Europe with my boyfriend. It was my dream come true, but the reality didn’t fit the dream much at all. He was there, but he wasn’t present with me. He was there, but he wasn’t affectionate. He was there, but we weren’t communicating. It was actually better when I had the loneliness to deal with but still had hope and anticipation for the future. Now I had mostly disappointment. I craved his attention, but I had hurt his feelings and he had withdrawn to his hiding place of staying high a lot of the time. He could “maintain” so well that I didn’t even know it.

Just now I read through all his summer letters, and I could have seen this coming. He spent the summer working in a Christian bookstore where the boss and all the employees were members of the Church of Christ. He had written that he was feeling very pressured to maintain the correct image and not say anything to rock the boat. He warned me that after a summer like that…look out! He knew that would worry me, so said not to worry, that didn’t mean he was looking to do “no-no’s”. But then he blew it by mentioning that the thought had passed through his mind that there was great hash in Europe and it was really cheap. I shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised at what transpired…but I was far from a realist, and had no knowledge of addiction at the time.

One night, Danny and I went to spend some time with Chip and Sharyn in their apartment. That night’s musical background was Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May” and “Mandolin Wind”, and a Judy Collins album, the one with the whale songs and Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat.” The evening stands out for me as the only time in that decade when I truly made an effort to communicate my heart to Chip and Sharyn. I tried to explain some of the pain I had experienced growing up, and why my relationship with Momma was the way it was.

I was boldly breaking the unspoken but powerful family rules by bringing out these emotions and memories. I was shaking as I talked. I’m sure I wasn’t clear or easy to comprehend, since I hadn’t really explored any of this before for myself, or talked about it with anyone. Chip and Sharyn, as best I can recall, didn’t know quite what to do with it. They didn’t argue or contend with me, but they didn’t know any way to respond.

[i] See Appendix for poem (untitled) Naomi’s Dream.
[ii] See Appendix for poem Peter Pan.

Friday, March 03, 2006

It was the summer of 1972. I had just finished a really tough year, living with Momma on 79th Street again, being a sophomore in college and spending a second year attempting a relationship with Danny Blair. I was now a junior in college, and that was the appropriate time to take advantage of Pepperdine’s Year in Europe program. So the plan was for me to spend eight months in Heidelberg, the same German city where I had such an unhappy autumn a mere nine years before.

Danny decided to go home to northern California for the summer and work. He lived with Larry and Carol in Concord, California. He would join me in Heidelberg in September, and we would have the fall months to be in Europe together. So I flew from L.A. to Frankfurt by myself. It was a seventeen hour flight, and the airplane had a leak that dripped on me, but Irene Johnson, Mom’s old friend from missionary days, met me at the airport with flowers, we shared a meal, and she put me on the train to Heidelberg.

Oh, how strange, to be on my own in this city. I caught a taxi and told the driver “Graimbergweg Zehn, bitte, beim Schloβ” (“Number Ten, Graimberg Way, please, next to the castle”), the address of the Moore Haus. This was the Pepperdine property that they named after my dad. A couple of years before he died, Daddy had taken another trip to Heidelberg, this time searching for a house for Pepperdine to buy. He located a mansion that would work wonderfully, on the hillside just down the street from the castle. He purchased it and supervised its restoration.

The workman who came to refinish the hardwood floors told Daddy, “I remember this house. I helped my grandfather lay these floors when I was a little boy.” The Nazi soldiers had occupied the house as headquarters during the War, and the floors had been badly damaged. The house bore other signs of war as well – there were cannonball holes in the outer walls of the bottom floor. When Daddy died, Pepperdine honored him by naming the house after him. I had never seen the house, and now it would be my home for eight months. Here’s Graimbergweg and the front gate that leads up the path to the house. The other photo is a look up the hill at the house itself, all four stories.

Oddly enough, Chip and Sharyn had been invited to spend a year in Heidelberg as well, as house parents for the students. Nobody really stopped to think what a bad idea it was for Chip and Sharyn to have the responsibility of being my house parents…least of all me. I imagined we would have fun together…not at all realistic about any possible conflict of interest. (Dumb!) In September, they planned to pick up a car they were buying in Milan, so Danny made plans to fly with them. I would take the train down through Italy to meet them there, and the four of us would drive back up together in their new Fiat.

At any rate, that was planned for September, and this was May. I had four months to be on my own before they would arrive. The faculty living in the house when I arrived were Grover and Betty Goyne, and they were a blessing. He was a cool professor, and what she might lack in cool, she made up for in kindness and welcome. I found out my roommate would be Betty White, who was a great, cheerful, funny, pretty girl who had lived on my hall in the girls’ dorm freshman year and was famous for introducing me to the combination of Wheat Thins and Granny Smith apples.

The morning after I arrived, I was so jetlagged that for the only time in my life I slept through both our alarms and missed my first day of classes. The next day, after classes in Amerika Haus downtown, I explored some old memories. St. Annagasse 7 was still there (the Hotel Goldene Rose), and the Friseur where Momma got her hair done each week. (The ladies there spoke a strange sort of German, and I figured out later it must have been Yiddish.) I shopped for a minute at Horten, at the head of the Hauptgasse, and bought a clock, some soap and some fruit auf Deutsch (in German), and then hoped I’d be able to find my way back up the hill to Moore Haus.

On the way I found Russ DiNapoli (who I knew from L.A.) and Nita Boverie who I knew to be a friend of Stephen Bennett’s from Texas. They were picnicking on a bench on Friedrich-Ebert Anlage. They invited me to go with them to Nita’s favorite Konditerei, Café Knösel. (It sits on a corner of Haspelgasse bei der Heiliggeistkirche – the Holy Ghost Church.) Wow – I had found a new home. This was a wonderful café. Terrific ancient sepia prints on the walls, old black and white photographs of fencing fraternities in frames, little vases of fresh wildflowers and weeds on each table, the best Käsekuchen (cheese cake, but unlike New York cheese cake – more like food than dessert) in the world. Warm, shadowy quiet. I loved watching the real cream make “clouds in my coffee.” After awhile there, Nita and I went shopping for Rapidographs, the first item on each of our To Do lists.

I needed a Rapidograph with that tiny fine point on it to fit everything into the postcards I wrote. Unbelievably small print! Why do I have so many of them? I don’t recall Naomi giving them back to me, but here they are. In addition to the series of postcards, there are some letters, one of which included a two-page transcription of the wedding scene in Divine Right’s Trip. This story was a serial which appeared in the bottom right hand corner of many pages in the Whole Earth Catalog, and I loved it so much I took the time to write out this passage to share with Naomi. The story was later published in paperback form, which I excitedly bought, and then lost. (I just love finding relics of my past through – I just ordered this paperback for $4.75. What a “trip” it will be to revisit.)

The very next week Betty showed me an advertisement for a Joni Mitchell concert in Frankfurt. A bunch of us went, and this made everything wonderful again for me. (I’ve reported earlier on that concert.) Then I set up a quadruple date with us four “new girls” (Betty, me, Meredith and Sally) with Dr. Goyne to the Orgelkonzert at Heiliggeistkirche. E. Power Biggs was rather famous as an organist, but I’d never heard of him. We heard Bach and Reger, the Fugue in G-minor. It was beautiful, cold, ethereal. I noted a freak there, blond in a black cape, slightly satanic and creepy.

When the first weekend arrived, every student disappeared from the house, and I was a bit mystified. I found the Goynes and asked them what was going on. They explained that everybody had a Eurailpass and all the students traveled on the weekends. That weekend, the Goynes had mercy on me and took me with them antiquing, because everyone else had gone to Rothenburg together. On an ancient gramophone in a musty dank cellar, I heard “I saved the last waltz for you…” – one of the songs Danny liked to play on the piano.

The Goynes encouraged me to call my mother and explain the situation, and ask for more money so I could travel like everybody else. They said otherwise I would be pretty lonely all summer long, Thursdays through Sundays. So I called Momma, and she explained quite firmly that she had already given me all the money she could afford until the fall, and I would just have to make do with what I had. So I did. This led to some very interesting adventures, and memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The following weekend, Betty and I went with Gary Collins, a red-headed friend of Danny’s from San Francisco, to Luxembourg so I could I take all the money that was supposed to last me the rest of the summer and buy a Eurailpass. The rule was that you paid full fare in whatever country you bought the pass, and then your travel was free in all the other countries. So the trick was to buy it in the tiny country of Luxembourg (the cheapest one to pay your way out of) and then start your major traveling.

After I bought the railpass, we had a few hours’ wait for the next train out of the country. We had nothing else to do but sit in an open air café and drink and people watch. We did walk around a bit, and viewed the ruins of the Roman aqueduct. As the sun set and night came on, we sat and chatted and listened to music playing from someone’s radio or stereo, and I heard the most delightful little tune. It was so catchy and singable that I learned it as we sat there. This melody became a personal love note from God to me that would find me almost everywhere I traveled in Europe that summer.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but when Jesus baptized me in His Holy Spirit (as unemotional as was the experience itself), it produced in me a new sensitivity to His love. He started romancing me that summer – or at least I started really noticing it that summer. Everywhere I went, I found personal little treats that seemed to be planned just for me. Maybe it’s that people in love are so egocentric, they think every blessing in the world is created just for them. (But they really are, aren’t they? Admit it!) At any rate, I fell in love with Jesus for real that summer. And maybe, too, it had something to do with being on my own, and not making Danny the center of my world. Jesus and I shared a summer romance. All my senses were heightened and I seemed to notice detail like never before.

In my red Travel Log I wrote, “Walking across the bridges, to the Dom (closed), more bridges, the Roman ruins, and bugs. So much green. Sitting on a bench, doing Stan Freberg
[i] to entertain Betty. The little Italian café on either side of the stairway, with the fifty-year-old couple in love, almost hilarious. Connie Francis, of all people, singing ‘I saved the last waltz for you…’” (There that was again! But this was not the “love note from God” melody – that was a different song.)

“On the way to Amsterdam, the niceness of sleeping in a couchette with blankets, and the misery of getting very rudely kicked out at 5:00 am. The amazement of a wildly vivacious French girls’ athletic team, all in blue, and their coach, so incredibly early in the morning. Gary knew of a place to stay, but we took forever finding it, only to discover that all of Amsterdam was full. Houseboats in the canals; the extremely sad thousands of freaks at the Monument. Three hours later, in a phone booth (the green Superman phone booth in the grass), we located a private home in Haarlem that rented rooms, with a shower even. Finally there, a lovely sleep. (Later I would discover Corrie ten Boom, who helped save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, grew up in this village of Haarlem.)

“Next morning, we asked about church, but they, having very little German, couldn’t help. The man of the house did drive us to the train, after an amazing breakfast with ham and cheese and little chocolate shavings to sprinkle on anything you liked. Then the Rijksmuseum. Calliopes, all over the city – now that’s one cause that ought to be supported.”

I’ll confess to the reader that from this point through August of 1972, my memory is not as accurate as the tales might seem to indicate. I made notes in the aforementioned red Travel Log, and I have used them to describe those amazing four months of travel.

Since I had spend all my money on the railpass, one might wonder how I managed to pay for anything else. Well, I gave up lunch. Pepperdine doled out ten dollars each week per student to cover our lunch meals. Rolls and jam and tea were provided for our breakfast at Moore Haus, little Brötchen fresh baked and delivered each morning to the house. (We would take the stale, leftover Brötchen with us on trips to increase our likelihood of survival.) Suppers were down the street from Moore Haus, beside the castle entrance, at a restaurant which had been contracted to supply our meals Monday through Thursday evenings. For lunch, we were on our own, but we had paid for full board and thus were given the ten dollar per week allowance. So I skipped lunch, and I traveled all over Europe on ten dollars a weekend.

The following weekend, Betty and I went to Paris with a couple of other girls, and had a wonderful time. Old hand Jana, from Texas, went straight away to another car to sleep, while I attracted another slimy Frenchman. After stumbling out of the train the next morning, we sought a W.C. only to find that we had to pay for the privilege of squatting over a tiled hole in the ground. And then pay extra for toilet paper. And then there was that huge dog doo in the street. The city was putting its worst foot forward.

But Paris was redeemed for me by my first cup of café au lait, and a visit to Notre Dame. They were having a funeral, so we wandered quietly around the back of the cathedral. I noticed, sadly, that Jeanne d’Arc had candles galore lit for her, but Jesus had only a couple. Then to the Louvre. There was Miss Mona behind her glass. There was Danny Jackson’s green Howe Bicycle poster (located at “8 Boulevard de Sebastopol”). There was a Charlie Chaplin exhibit. There were Bing cherries and abricots for supper.

Ted and Jane-Anne Thomas had recommended a Paris hotel for two dollars (seven francs) a night, and there we had a long sleep between clean sheets, interspersed with the maid peeking in at us. The Hotel du Commerce was at 14, Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve-5e, a decrepit yellow building below street level at the Metro stop called Place Maubert.

As we checked in, I had a real culture shock moment, an instant of depression, as I observed a classic Frenchman with his classic wine bottle and his classic baguette and cheese, having his lunch on an oilcloth covered table in the room behind the front desk (the tiniest front desk in the world). I realized that his life must be so incredibly simple, so quiet compared to what I was used to in L.A., and I wondered whether I could make such an adjustment. Then my mood changed to hilarity, because the little hotel had all these sets of stairs going up and down and up and down again, and one set that apparently went nowhere. It was a bit scary, sitting down on the toilet in the tiny, two-story unlit Water Closet, imagining that a bat might swoop down any minute from high above you in the dark.

The next day, we discovered that the Champs Elyseé has the nicest public restroom! At the Tour Eiffel I sat and watched the birds, and the fountains made rainbows. I saved climbing the Eiffel Tower for my trip back to Paris later when Danny would be with me. We girls found the most lovely wood-paneled restaurant nearby, called Auberge de Chamonix, where we settled in for a four-hour-long, special and terrific lunch, with a most solicitous waiter. He had a white towel draped over his arm and couldn’t have been more attentive to four young women with no money. He brought us cheese fondue, then endless pots of tea, and for dessert, a huge bowl of chocolate mousse. I have the address of the restaurant, but when we looked for it on another trip it was closed, and then on another trip I couldn’t find it at all, so if you seek it out you’re taking your chances. It was at 17, Rue de Ponthieu-8e, off the Champs Elyseé, near the Arc de Triomphe.

It was so wonderful to at least hear Godspell again, even in French, that I left with such a high, even though we had horrible seats and had to lean into the ones ahead of us to see anything. When the Jesus character is saying goodbye to each of the disciples at the last supper, he gives each one their own personalized gesture, and I loved especially his touching fingertips with the girl who sings “Day by Day”, counting one (“To see thee more clearly…”), two (“Love thee more dearly…”), three (“Follow thee more nearly, day by day…”).

The next weekend trip was to Munich. This time the group consisted of Meredith Houts and Betty and me, and we were swarmed by millions of swarthy Turks. Three Canadian girls from the youth hostel hooked up with us for protection and we all went arm in arm to dinner. We counted a total of maybe ten other women on the streets. We had salad and yogurt at an all-male Turkish restaurant. Then on to that world-famous shrine of beer drinking, the Münchner Hofbräuhaus. A lady on the street actually took us there instead of just giving directions. One liter for DM2, and you had no choice but to buy it or leave. Everybody sat together at the tables on long benches, no American privacy here. Plenty of smoke, plenty of Brezeln. Two French guys attempted a pickup, and four of us were quite happy by the end of the evening, but Meredith and I shepherded the others back to the hostel.

Next day at the Alte Pinakothek, the Schatzkammer (jewel house), and the chiming of the Glockenspiel at 11:00 am in the rain. With mock ennui, we said, “Yeah, after Disneyland, what’s the big deal? It’s a clock, for heaven’s sake.” So much nice walking in the rain. Rainbows in all the oil puddles, just for me. This crazy hostel insisted we get up at 6:00 am. Among our many roommates was a nutty lady who claimed that she enjoyed fresh air but still complained about drafts.

Early up again and off to the Bahnhof to see Mad Ludwig’s castles. First the train and then a bus to Neuschwanstein (where Disney got the idea for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle). Once you arrive, then you still have a whole mountain to climb! It was rough going but gorgeous woods all around. Blue work shirts were drying on the line down in the village below, and I enjoyed the wafting scent of hemp from the freaks heading back down the mountain. (I always said, if you could just bottle that scent…)

Back on the train toward Munich and then a little green trolley-like train and then a boat across a lake to Herrenchiemsee. Mock ennui again, “When do we get to Tom Sawyer’s Island?” We had a picnic under the trees, with Brötchen und Honig, Käse und Äpfeln
[ii]. We had a view across the lake that reminded me of a misty Malibu. Then we took the long, romantic, intensely green walk through the forest to the castle itself. They were having a chamber orchestra concert in the Hall of Mirrors (patterned after that of Versailles) and the whole long room was entirely lit by candelabra. No electric lights. We got to stand and hear the concert.

When the concert was over, unbelievably, there was no connecting train to Munich, and I was totally out of money, so I headed back to Heidelberg as best I could by myself while the other girls went on traveling. From the train station, since I was broke, I walked all the way home to Moore Haus. It was 4:00 am, and the dawn was just breaking. A car full of guys slowed down to harass me but I kept on walking, though I felt shaky about it inside. That was the morning I discovered that Heidelberg was, on top of all its other glories, a paradise for winos. One can buy wine at any hour in vending machines on the streets of Heidelberg. I sang loudly as I walked,

“This world is not my home, I’m just a’ passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I
Can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

“O Lord, You know I have no friend like You
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I
Can’t feel at home in this world any more.”

The door to the boys’ floor was open and the main door to the house was locked, so I snuck into Russ DiNapoli’s empty room and went to sleep. Later when I heard people stirring, I crept out and went back into the house the right way.

The next Thursday night was a special dinner arranged by the school in a town outside Heidelberg called Ladenburg. We all went together on the train, and Herr Luft met us at the station and walked us over to Kastellweg where he and his wife Sabine lived. It was a really wonderful house, full of that German brocade and dark wood, with a great garden. They took such pride in their son Basti. Sabine told me an amazing story. She was my German teacher, and had a typically German lack of patience with my errors. Now she revealed, “You know, your father spoke German, but only somewhat. Instead of learning the proper article for each word, der, die or das, he would just say ‘Duh’.”

They offered us afternoon Küchen und Torten und Schlagsahne, Kaffee und Thee und Schokolade
[iii]. Then we took a historical walking tour through the town with Herbert in the lead. Herbert Luft was a young boy when my folks worked in post-War Germany, and I had known him at Pepperdine as a college student, so it was kind of funny to call him “Herr Luft”. But he certainly acted the part of a Herr Professor, with impressive German dignity.

There in Ladenburg I saw my favorite flower, the one that has followed me around the world. I called it periwinkle but later found out is actually named Lantana. As we walked through a cathedral, I commented inanely, “There’s just something about cathedrals, I wonder what it is,” and Herr Luft responded sharply, “They’re an expression of faith.” We had a wonderful dinner together at Zür Sackpfeife (The Bagpipes), and Frank Wiswell, who had been in the Heidelberg program with us in 1963, was there. He was working as a reporter for the Stars & Stripes and traveling for his job.

For our fourth time out of town, Betty was brave and decided to go to London with just me. We missed our first train, and spent the Channel crossing being very cold in the cafeteria on the ferry, drinking grainy coffee. A lady just behind us at Dover was humming “Hello, Young Lovers” (famously sung by another British woman, Deborah Kerr playing Mrs. Anna, in The King and I). After much being lost and many deliberations, we decided to stay at Albion House, at an exorbitant price of £3.50 each. It was rather depressing to our aesthetic sensibilities, as there were fourteen, count ‘em, fourteen different colors in our hotel room décor.

We went to an English speaking movie, and out of all the possibilities we had to pick the very heart-wrenching Fiddler on the Roof. The next day, we called Brother Channing, my London contact, from Victoria Station and then set out for the Tower. (“That’s a long way from anywhere,” we were encouragingly informed.) A very long walk past fish-packing houses, with crabs and such lying around in the streets; Coffeehouse Alley; terrific little dark streets and an isolated, inexplicable patch of confetti on the cobbles just for my delight.

We eventually gave up walking and took the Underground to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guard. The crowd was so thick we saw maybe five whole red coats, but we did hear some terrific bagpipes. We paid 50 p. for a bus tour of the city, went to Westminster Abbey, and Betty was satisfied. I discovered a plaque I loved near the floor that simply said O Rare! Ben Jonson. We stopped by Foyle’s Bookstore but they’d never heard of the book Herr Luft was seeking, and they had a terrible children’s department. We had a feast back in the miserable hotel room, with hilarious loose tea which refused to sink to the bottom of the lukewarm tap water in our cups.

I couldn’t afford a poster I wanted desperately, but I did find out how to buy it for later. In the Underground tunnels, there were signs everywhere, “Buskers and Street Musicians Shall be Prosecuted.” I loved it! Of course, occasionally a little group of musicians would gather directly under one of those signs to play with their guitar case open in front of them, collecting donations. One can order such a poster from the London Transport Poster Shop, Griffith House, 280 Old Marylebone Road, London N.W. 1.

Next morning after lots of tea and toast we took the under- and overground, trains and buses to Aylesbury, where Bobby Chappin, my cousin’s husband, met us. My cousin Suzanne saw us at church and told me, “You look just the same,” after the several years since we’ve seen each other. A couple named Trevor and Joyce drove us to the Chappins’ house, and one of their little boys in the back seat popped up chirping, “I’m called Jeremy!” in the most delightful accent.

We had lunch with some additional folks who had dropped in, including a Texas cynic who informed me that he was certain Golding’s world view was right, and I must not have understood him properly. We ate chop suey and gooseberry pie, and listened to Bach’s Greatest Hits on the stereo. They took us in the afternoon to see Baron Rothschild’s kitschy old palace, crammed so full of treasures that it looked more like a storehouse than a home. Then they loaned us $20, because we were totally broke, and sent us on our way back to Heidelberg.

We took a taxi back to the house and arrived just in time for supper at Burgfreiheit, then just time for clothes washing, no mail, and some sleep, and we left at 7:00 am the next morning on Blaubusse for Salzburg. After lots of bus-type sleeping, we arrived at the salt mines where we dressed in Dr. Zhivago costumes and sat on a tiny train and whisked through cold tunnels and down warm wooden slides which wore out the plastic heels on my boots, and then were taken on a terribly boring tour which was lots of fun. Then on to an actual hotel, and actual dinner, traveling luxuries to which we were not accustomed.

Next day we toured Salzburg, complete with cherries and fresh bread. We visited the Dom, with its cemetery full of tiny gardens planted for each grave. One man was buried with seven wives lined up beside him. We saw the actual gazebo from The Sound of Music. On to Vienna, we passed through town and stayed out in the country, at Jagdschloss Magdalenenhof, a former hunting lodge, in a little village named Stammersdorf. The Goynes showed us the beautiful carved headboard in their bedroom. Slightly hilarious but actual Gypsy musicians played while we ate oily Polish soup. The next day, to the Spanish Riding School, which I’ve been passionately opposed to since I was ten, worried about the horses being injured in training. (Not everything I learned from Walt Disney’s Sunday night TV show, The Wonderful World of Color, was a happy thing.)

That evening, I walked with Gary and John and Sally down a country road of lush green to a Weinstube, where we had Weiswein und Brezeln and a long, traumatic talk which I wished would end, concerning personality clashes between Gary and me, and not resolving anything for Gary, who revealed that night that he was a mean drunk. The next day, I found Danny Jackson’s Geistliche Chormusik by Schütz at a record store, but it was very expensive and I forewent it. Rosita provided my first exposure to Gustav Klimt when she discovered his museum in Vienna.

Next day at the Czechoslovakian border, we had to wait a long while until the guards decided not to make all the men cut off their beards. The guards were arguing that it was not acceptable that they didn’t look the same as in their passport photos. Finally we were allowed to enter the country, and all shopping had to be done in half an hour because the town we were in closed at noon. I had my first experience of hearing loudspeaker announcements and marching music on the street corners, shades of Big Brother in an oppressive Communist atmosphere.

In Prague, I found my favorite cathedral window yet, by far the strongest, brightest, deepest blues and reds I’d ever seen. Later, I was told that no one knows to this day how the artisans created those colors, and they’ve not been duplicated. Then, for the first time, I experienced getting kicked out of a church…chased out. The Goynes teased me, saying, “Did you see that children’s bookstore? No? Oh, it was terrific, it would have made your trip. Heh heh.”

Back in Heidelberg, we had a special Thursday night supper at the Kupfer Kanne, with all the girls in long dresses. Then on to Bier und Brezel, all us girls and Steve, who had promised me he’d buy me one. He did, later, at Seppl, where he shared with me the name of his favorite Schnapps, Stichpimpuliforcelorum (a combination of Kirsch and Schokolade). Then a Charlie Chaplin movie, “The Circus’, in German at the Fauler Pelz Filmtheater. So sad, as he sat on a box in the center ring after the circus had left. A crumpled star, and his famous walk away. Hearing Carly Simon sing “Anticipation” as we walked up the endless stairs (so much easier with a beer in you) and through the cool, heavy night air.

Dave Rice was a cute guy who liked Betty White and me, an attractive blond I would never have dared strike up a conversation with on the L.A. campus. Being in Heidelberg together broke down a lot of social barriers. He was an older student who was part of the group that summer and he invited me to come with him to visit John “J.J.” Scheifele at his dad’s house in Kaiserslautern. John’s dad was not in the military but worked as a civilian for them, and John was spending the summer with him. Dave had bought a beat-up, used VW bus, painted blue, and when he left Germany, seven of us bought it from him for a grand total of $500.

I knew John Scheifele from the year before on the L.A. campus. He had a Corvette, and he and Sara were messing around some, so he had met me through her. He took me out for my first drink (a gin and tonic in the bar at Du-Par’s where I had spent so many tense Wednesday nights with my folks). John’s was the first freshly shaven, great smelling male cheek offered for my approval.

The minute we walked into the house, from another room the question was called out, “What are you drinking?” before I had laid eyes on the man. John’s dad was most hospitable, generous with his alcohol and already busy cooking us a steak dinner. We started with a Tom Collins (I had always wanted to try one), and wine with dinner. Then John and Dave said, “Let’s go to the Officers’ Club.”

Cheap liquor was flowing so freely, I figured, why not try whatever I wanted to? I had a couple of White Russians (Kahlua and cream), a gin and tonic, and who knows what else. When we got home, we broke out a bottle of champagne. (Why do people usually say they “break out” a bottle of champagne, I wonder?) And with all that, I didn’t get drunk. I was feeling very quiet and a bit silly/fuzzy, but not drunk, not really. I figure if an evening like that didn’t do it, it may never happen. We listened to Bob Dylan singing “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and a bunch more of the Concert for Bangladesh, a double album which I hadn’t heard before.

I learned a big lesson that night. Most of the folks at the officers’ club were dancing, but I had nervously, embarrassedly said something about not liking to dance or not wanting to, probably as a sideways permission for the guys to feel they didn’t have to ask me. (You know the sick old trick, reject yourself before somebody else has the chance to.) It wasn’t my true heart, and later on John said, “I would have asked you to dance, but you had said something about not wanting to.” I could have cried for regret. It would have been so much fun to play the lady to his gentleman that evening, and I robbed myself of it.

[i] Remember The United States of America: The Early Years? I could (still can) do whole songs and sketches from Stan Freberg’s comedy album which Chip and I used to perform on long car trips.
[ii] Bread and honey, cheese and apples.
[iii] Cakes and tarts, whipped cream and coffee, tea and hot chocolate.