Chapter One: Part I
What I remember most about those first weeks of marriage, and our journey to Indonesia, was nausea -- an unbelievable amount of nausea -- and a huge sign hung for all the world to see, which read “Welcome Home Becky and Fuzznuts!”
John had left for a job with Brown & Root, in Southeast Asia, at the end of my junior year. He proposed to me by phone several months later, sent me a ring in the mail, and a few days after graduation I married a guy I hadn’t seen, and barely spoken to, for thirteen months. The next day we boarded a plane, and headed off into the great unknown. Sounds crazy, I know, but what you have to understand is that, though neither of us was very good at sharing our feelings face-to-face, we were both damn good letter-writers. I think it’s safe to say that our relationship progressed more during our year apart than it had in all three years of dating!
The nausea started before we’d even made it out of the States. Since the trip to Indonesia was doubling as our honeymoon, we decided to make a few stops along the way, the first of which was San Francisco. One day we rented a car and drove out to visit John’s maternal grandmother. It was a gorgeous, romantic drive, but the roads were rather twisty, and before long I was hanging my head out the window, hoping the cool breeze would calm my stomach. “Uh, Beck? You OK?” “Oh, sure. I just get a bit carsick now ‘n then (plus airsick, seasick, swing-sick, merry-go-round-sick, and pretty much anything-that-moves-sick). It’s no big deal.”
I did fairly well on the trip to Hong Kong, but we were only a few minutes into the flight to Singapore when a combination of exotic foods, turbulence, and nervousness had me running for the toilets. Every time I tried to return to my seat, I’d get about halfway down the aisle, then have to turn and run back. Finally I just gave up, slid down to the floor of the stall, dropped my head onto my arms, and stayed that way until it was time to land. The lock on the door was broken, and people kept barging in on me, but I was beyond caring at that point. John checked on me periodically, but I assured him he’d be much better off just leaving me where I was.
The reason for my nervousness was that Singapore was the last bastion of civilization on our journey, and after that, there was no turning back. Not long after John proposed to me, I started peppering him with questions about where we would be living. Finally he sent me a packet of pictures, including one shot of some women doing their wash in a muddy river, along with a few water buffalo. It was labeled “Our local laundromat.” Even more disturbing was the shot of the outdoor market where he said I’d do most of my shopping, with its huge slabs of meat covered in flies. It was a far cry from paradise, but I figured “Hey, if John and his coworkers can hack it, then I durn well can too!" My parents weren't nearly so optimistic...(to be continued)
P.S. Ever heard of Walker Railey, the Methodist minister who was accused of trying to strangle his wife when she found out about his affair with the bishop's daughter (though nothing was ever proven)? Well, that's him over on the left side of our wedding photo