Wednesday, July 19, 1944

I have finally met Olivia.

She walked in the room as the Reverend introduced us to each other. Our eyes met and she looked down. I felt my face grow hot and I instinctively gripped the brim of my hat tighter as if that gesture alone would keep me from falling over.

It had been a hot day. I worked all morning around the farm and hadn’t the appetite to take any food. I had wondered if I had caught the sun when I reached out and shook her hand for I cannot believe the sight standing before me.

She was incredibly beautiful. I cannot believe my eyes. Certainly Reverent Case must have been mistaken and picked the wrong girl from the station. Not one single thought, save probably the eyes, of what I have imagined her to be had matched the Olivia in my mind.

She wanted to be called Livy, somehow that nickname suits her more. She’s graceful and modern. A bona fide city girl. Genuine fear had swiftly set in for a new question had just hit me. Will she change her mind about marrying me? I couldn’t think straight, it was all happening too fast, my mind churned thoughts in lightning speed that it had rendered me speechless in front of her. I was just chastising myself for not using any of my practiced opening lines for her when I heard Mrs. Case saying something about pouring Livy some lemonade.

I was caught in Livy’s scent. She smells like my Mother’s spring flowers in her garden. It was too familiar and intoxicating that it was a welcome break to step away from our proximity to each other. I headed for the table and frantically thought of ways to salvage this meeting and regain normal breathing. I guess it had not registered how the last few minutes had me totally undone until I heard the clinking of glasses as I poured the lemonade. We are now by ourselves. Lord help me.

I was in front of her again and have tried to look anywhere but her. This must have annoyed her for I became conscious that I still have not said a word. What was wrong with me? Looking at her was purely distracting, I was just trying to avoid this so that I can think clearly. We do not have much time and I have not redeemed myself from a certain negative first impression.

She broke the awkwardness between us and called me Mr. Singleton. I had to correct her. I don’t have to be reminded of the disparity between our ages and addressing me as such made me feel so much older than her.

When she asked me if I had any doubts about her, it gave me a hint of hope for I had thought she exuded a certain confidence in her all this time. However, it confounded me how she could think that I had any when in fact I think I should be the one who needed to ask her this question. For once, let her not have any misgiving as to how I felt about marrying her. I firmly replied in an instant but I had to know if she did indeed have any about me. She answered in the negative. I was relieved and said a quick mental prayer of thanks.

Then she wanted to know if I will be able to love the baby. Although I understood why she would ask this, I still had the feeling that she was testing me. Of course, the baby is the easiest part of this whole arrangement. It is easy to love someone whom you know will unconditionally love you back without question. I tried to answer her promptly as a way for me to show my sincerity but my mind must have been oxygen deprived that I struggled to even utter intelligible phrases at her.

There were too many long pauses in our conversation that she finally inquired if I had anything I wanted to ask her. I made an effort to turn this around in my favor and I tried to find my voice. Of course the only thing that really came out was the thought that was knocking at the back of my mind- that she was so fine that I can’t believe any man would leave her for this. Our eyes had fixed on each other. Those eyes, the ones I tried to avoid earlier, mirrored pain equal to that of what I have been familiar with for such a long time. It brought up a feeling deep within that my immediate impulse was to protect her at that very moment.

I think this somewhat broke the awkwardness between us. My statement had unsettled her. She started to sneeze and I had offered her my handkerchief. Her eyes are my window and I immediately sensed that there’s more to her than meets the eyes. She is a strong girl and she is determined not to cry in front of me. I wanted to comfort her but did not quite know how to approach her. In the middle of all this, we both managed to give each other a smile.

We had reached an impasse. As soon as she had calmed down, I gestured for us to head to church. We entered it with 4 sets of eyes on us. I was unsure if we’d taken too long that they had doubted our coming at all.

The ceremony was short but effective. At least to me it was. I had forgotten to mention about the ring to Livy and I had regretted this. When Reverend Case asked for it, I was a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. It’s not my nature to lie either so I admitted that I didn’t have it with me. I felt bad for Livy for even if she said she didn’t need one, I somehow felt I had let her down right there.

As we stood side by side in front of Rev. Case, his words rang in my head. I vowed to stand by those words said in front of God – that by our sacred bond, we promised to give hope when there is sorrow, strength when there is weakness, faith and understanding when there is confusion and doubt. I wouldn’t need a ring to remind me of these words, it will be forever impressed upon my heart.

I became a married man.

When the Reverend had pronounced us, it had hit me that this part of the ceremony required a kiss. I self consciously glanced at her and she at me. I think the Reverend comprehended it and moved on. I don’t think it called for one in our present situation but I still had to banish the thought of how her skin would feel on my lips if we had. I wrestled with my emotions that I neglected to introduce my relations to Livy. I’ve been reduced to a bungling idiot. I was glad there would be an end somehow to this day and I will start anew tomorrow.

The drive was quiet. Living alone did not require a conversation and I have gotten used to the solitude of being lost in my own thoughts. I resolved to improve this for I am no longer by myself, I now have Livy. The sound of the glass lid of the casserole, which sat in between Livy and I, comforted me. I am finally taking her to our home. I tried to contain myself from the excitement brewing beneath my skin. I can’t wait to show her the house. I tried to maintain a calm demeanor. She did ask me who our neighbors were. I never thought about neighbors for I grew up without them. We had acres and acres of land around us that the next one is eight miles away and that was still family land. Never once did I realize how isolated this farm was until now.

Welcome home. I told her this before she stepped inside. I finally recovered from my dream like state and recalled one of the few phrases I had rehearsed earlier today. She gave me a look I couldn’t quite comprehend. She must have realized then that I do have a voice and that I am a man of few words.

I feel more at east when I am home. In all the uncertainty of our future, this is one piece that I am confident about. Suddenly I found my old self as I showed her around the house. She looked bewildered when I told her that the nearest phone was in town rather than in the house. Tonight had been a box of revelations for I sorely underestimated plenty of things that would have made her smile. Somehow the hot water, the co’colas in the icebox or the size of her bedroom or the fact that we really had a library in another town did not elicit any excitement from her. Denver wouldn’t be called a city if it weren’t modern indeed. I can only think that she is overwhelmed by all of this and the Reverend’s words resounded in my head. I resolved to be patient for I know time will be in our favor and we will be able to overcome every awkward moment.

If our time during supper was any indication of how our lives would be in the days ahead, I can very well describe that at that moment it was very bleak. I can truthfully say that I did try but it did not pass our attention that we have not discovered one single point that we can call our common factor. One can only say that I married a woman from another planet. She must feel the same way about me. Given that I have known ahead of time that she had plenty of schooling, it had not occurred to me that even if I had tried to make a sensible comment or opinion about a topic, my ignorance of it will still show to my disadvantage. How am I going to reach the level at where Olivia is at this moment? I wondered.

I have to make a mental note to remember the name of the archeologist she mentioned tonight. Sometime this week maybe I’ll take her into town and visit the library. We’ve also a need for cook books for I learned she cannot cook. I personally do not mind putting in my share of cooking in the house. However, I feel she would want to learn for she will be on her own most of the day at home.

As it was tradition, I had flipped to the marriage page of the Bible and carefully wrote our names on the next line after Martha’s. It somewhat provided me some kind of consolation from the dismal evening we just had because it was now tucked within the pages of a sacred book. Proof that ‘we’ had happened today, that we became man and wife in front of God. I prayed over it and had asked for continued blessing of our union, said a prayer of thanks and promised to look forward to a better day tomorrow.

I was interrupted when I heard soft sobbing from across the room. I quietly approached the room. I stood at the door for what felt like eternity. My knuckles were pale as white while I tried to muster the courage to knock but instead I listened to her crying and my heart reached out to her. I remembered her asking me this evening why I had agreed to such an arrangement. I have told her the truth but maybe it was not enough or maybe it hadn’t made sense to her. I felt miserable that I may be the cause of her pain, I never intended to give any of this to her. I cannot possibly give her comfort knowing this so I turned around and returned to my room. I sat in bed and listened till it was all quiet again, Livy had finally fallen asleep. I assured myself that I should give ourselves a period of adjustment and that I will try my best to make it an easy one for her. I will do everything in my power to make her happy here.