Newlywed Love (#76)

July 10-11, 1970

As Nate got acquainted with his rural paper route, his start-to-finish time became more efficient. The weekend, however, was another story. For starters, his boss told him to plan on more time at the office to “put the Sunday papers together.”

Apparently the many extra sections had to be collated by the carrier, which took a while. That’s when Nate said, “Want to come with me? It might be fun. And you could see how everything works with my new job.”

Without even thinking, I said yes. Had I taken a moment, I would’ve remembered how quickly I get car sick from starts, stops, twists, and turns.

BundlesThe bundled papers were due to hit the deck around 1:00 AM. Nate and I decided not to go to bed at all Saturday night but to have a late dinner with Cathy and John, after which we’d go straight to the newspaper office.

Other carriers arrived shortly after we did, and we watched to see what they would do.

There were no tables on which to lay out the newspaper sections, so the guys began collating on the back seats of their cars — far from convenient.

CollatingThe weather was nice, so Nate and I spread our papers out on the hood of his VW.

When we began a photo session and some collating fun (along with shooting rubber bands), the other drivers looked askance at us – but we didn’t care. With 4 hands working instead of 2, we knew we’d be the first car out of the lot.

 

ReadingNate had his route memorized, so once we got into open country, he put some pep into his rapid zig-zagging. I admired the way he tossed the papers into each mailbox, not missing a one. But it wasn’t long before I was feeling queasy.

“Look out the window,” he said, but nighttime in the country doesn’t leave much to see.

I climbed into the back seat to lie down and close my eyes, but with his down-shifting, up-shifting, and many sharp stops, I had to fight rolling to the floor. Hanging my head out the window didn’t help either, and the route seemed to be taking forever. When I told him I might feel better if I drove, he quickly let me take the wheel.

MailboxesBut our pace slowed radically after that, with me needing verbal directions to each mailbox – all of which were hidden in inky darkness. “This isn’t working,” he said. “Are you feeling any better?”

“I’m a wreck,” I said. “You’ll just have to take me home.”

“But we’re nowhere near home,” he said, picking up speed. “From this point on, though, we’re more than half way. So think of it as heading toward home.”

By the time we finally pulled in behind our building, I was ready for a barf-bag. Nate apologized repeatedly, but all I wanted was to go prone and (with any luck) go unconscious. It was 5:00 AM.

Never again…

“Get wisdom. Develop good judgment.” (Proverbs 4:5)

Newlywed Love (#73)

June 28-July 2, 1970

My second week of student teaching was harder than the first. The 22-year-old certified teacher (to whom I was accountable) told me I would be doing most of the teaching while she sat and observed.

That meant every evening I had to study curriculum materials and prepare lesson plans. Since I didn’t know what I was doing with this new grade level, I had to dig into the seminar textbooks by the hour to figure it all out.

Job searchAs for Nate’s days, he continued making calls and pounding the pavement seeking a third job, since day-after-day his name was passed over for construction work, and his pots and pans weren’t selling.

The two of us had virtually no time together and were suffering because of it. We did sit together over our simple dinners, but the rest of the time I was either gone or busy. The only recreation was late-night coffee breaks with Cathy and John… and of course fun in the bedroom.

One evening we gave ourselves the luxury of a walk through the neighborhood, taking Baron with us. His funny antics always lifted our spirits.

DiscouragedWhen we returned to our apartment, though, we discovered we’d locked ourselves out. The only option was to knock on a neighbor’s door and ask to use the phone. Then, after calling the landlord, the 3 of us waited on the front step.

We talked about our sticky situation with Baron being there, and how it could end badly. But I had an idea. “I could take Baron around to the back yard,” I said, “so Mr. Norman won’t see him.”

Nate, with his sterling integrity, responded exactly as I expected. “Better not.”

“But what is he gonna say?”

“Well… let’s just wait and see. Maybe it won’t be a big deal.”

When Mr. Norman finally arrived with his master key, he immediately zeroed in on Baron, perched in Nate’s arms. “Who’s this little fellow?”

Nate introduced them while Baron did his best to radiate puppy-charm. Watching our landlord pat him on the head lit a tiny flame of hope in me. But then he said, “He’s not your dog, is he?”

Nate and I took a quick glance at each other, which of course answered the question. “Well… he can’t stay here. Nothing against him, you understand, but that’s my rule.”

When we didn’t respond, he continued. “I’ll tell you what. You can have through the weekend to figure out what to do. But after that, he needs to be gone.”

Our feet were heavy as we followed Mr. Norman and his key up the stairs. He didn’t chide us for interrupting his evening or threaten to evict us. But as he gave Baron one last pat on the head he said, “By the end of the weekend.” And that was that.

Baron at easeMy heart was hurting, but Nate summed it up well. “We knew this would happen eventually. And really, he didn’t even have to let us back in the apartment… with Baron.”

“I suppose,” I said. “And I guess being honest should count for something” – though right then I wished I’d done the dishonest thing and taken him to the back yard.

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3)

Newlywed Love (#72)

June 27, 1970

Nate and I had had 2 rough weeks experiencing the stress of no income and summer school/student teaching adjustments for me. When Saturday finally came, we decided to escape from it all – just for a few hours.

The sunny, warm weather invited us out to play, so we packed a picnic and drove the half-hour to Allerton Park. Though we weren’t sure about dogs being allowed, we took Baron along anyway. He had never failed to win the hearts of everyone he met.

Allerton, one areaAllerton Park has been described as “a vast prairie turned into a personal fantasy land of neoclassical statues, Far Eastern art, and huge European-style gardens surrounding a Georgian Revival mansion.” *

We had explored the estate’s 1500 acres enough to know how not to get lost, and loved the surprises hidden on the grounds. Just when we thought we’d seen every piece of sculpture, each garden, and all the unique oddities on the property, we would come across something new.

Allerton..

Allerton factored into Nate’s and my relationship almost from the start. It was a peaceful place where two people in love could spend time together, whether walking through dense woods or on manicured paths. We had our first serious talk about our relationship on one of those walks, and on another one, explored the possibility of marriage for the first time.

The manor house was gorgeous, and we wondered aloud what it must have been like to live in such a place. The owner, Robert Allerton, had many homes and owned one of the largest Chicago hotels, so when he didn’t need this one anymore, he donated it to the University of Illinois for retreats and study.

Allerton_House(Photo credit: D Finnigan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18609642)

On this day, feeling depleted, Nate and I were looking for privacy and carried our blanket, picnic supplies, and doggie a long way from the mansion. We were looking for a giant meadow that had a dense forest on the other side of it, because we knew that deep within it was a secluded sunny patch of ground.

After spreading our blanket there, we stretched out on it and snuggled close, with Baron between us. The security of giant trees on all sides with an open sky above was the perfect hideaway from all of life’s woes.

Almost immediately the 3 of us fell sound asleep. When I awoke an hour later, Nate was still lying next to me but was up on one elbow, staring at my me. I smiled back and felt completely enfolded in his love. The problems of our week had evaporated, and no getaway ever meant more.

BaronWe shared our simple picnic, took turns reading aloud to each other, and had some intimate conversation about life and love. We also took time to admire our handsome puppy.

The therapeutic benefits from this one day would last a long, long time.

“May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29:11)

* Wikipedia