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Together, Forever

When I had been in the Navy for a year I received a letter from someone named Paula. I found out that she worked in an office of a friend in Cassville. The friend had suggested she do her patriotic duty and write to a serviceman while we were waging that stupid ground war in Vietnam. I wasn't in 'Nam. Never went there. I was a Spanish linguist, stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But I was a serviceman, so she was writing.

I was more than happy to receive her letter. I didn't get many. Just my weekly letter from my mother. Not quite the same, you know? So when I started getting letters from Paula I was more than happy to answer and keep up the relationship. Did I say that I was still a virgin? I had never joined my mates when they went out to the bars and strip-joints. I was rather naive about sex.

I had only had two or three dates in high school and they were disasters. I was not what girls wanted, apparently. I was bright and enjoyed reading, but knew little of the popular scene and wasn't the greatest physical specimen. Actually, I was down-right skinny as a rail and not very assertive with women.

Paula was a breath of fresh air for a man who was barely making it. We seemed to share a lot in common. We talked easily to each other and when she sent a picture I was entranced. She was a little doll. Our correspondence continued until I came home on leave. Of course, after visiting with family my fondest wish was to visit Paula. She lived about an hour from my home in Exeter and I made the trek to her home in Golden as soon as possible. After losing my way on the lake roads several times I found her.

We seemed to have known each other forever. She took me to all her favorite little haunts out in the country and finally we made a date to actually go out. I took her to a movie in Springfield a few days later. We had a good time. On the way home I took a chance and pulled over on the side of a dirt road near her house. After chatting for a while I made a move. I leaned in and kissed her. She responded most positively and we made out for over an hour. We were late.

I got her home later than I should have and her step-father was extremely upset. But I made up the old story of the flat tire, and having to change it. Back then cars got flats much more often than today. He was ex-Navy and he finally relaxed and I went home riding on air, or so it felt.

When I went to catch my plane in Kansas City back to Coco Solo, Panama, Paula wanted to come along on the ride. That was when she met my mother who was taking the car home afterwards. Paula rode along, happy to be with me and sad to see me go. I walked onto the plane knowing I would be coming home to a wonderful girl.

Things didn't work out so well. After I had been gone a year I received a final letter from Paula. She had graduated from high school, moved to Kansas City, and was working on her own. And she expressed a deep distress that I would be gone another year. She wanted me to come home now.

I had been saving up leave time so I could get out early, but I requested and received permission to take leave and go home. The first thing I did after mother picked me up and I saw the family was to drive up to Kansas City where Paula was living. We seemed to greet each other with great joy. But something was wrong.

That evening I tried to make out with Paula but she didn't respond. I even made a sexual move. The first time I had tried that. Paula was a very loving kind of girl. But I could tell something was wrong. Finally she just told me I needed to leave.

I was always respectful of women, and when she said that I followed orders. I left. I went home and then back to the transport center in Norfolk, Virginia, to return early to Panama. I was lost. I knew I loved her. I thought she loved me.

Months later I got a letter from her step-father telling me she had gotten married and did I know anything about this guy she married. I ignored the letter. My heart was broken. I didn't understand anything that had happened.

I got out of the service. I went to college with my GI Bill benefits. I was still a virgin. I thought I would stay that way forever. But I was enjoying being in a college town and making friends. I flunked out of college and started working at a bank in town. I didn't think about Paula much anymore.

I did start dating and finally lost my virginity to a sweet little Jewish girl. We had read poetry together at the Chez Coffeehouse and got together later. It did not last long but I was very grateful for her kindness.

I had sporadic dates with this or that girl, but nothing lasted.

Three years later I got a letter. It was from Paula. She had made contact with my mother who gave her my address in Columbia. Paula explained that she had divorced after two years because her husband was an alcoholic. She was very shy. Very contrite and wondering if I wanted to even see her. 

We began to live together. She moved all her stuff from the city to my college town apartment. But after a few months something was just not right. She moved out again, back to Kansas City. And we parted ways for good, it seemed.

Another two years went by. I was in my thirties. I didn't think I would ever find love. And Paula still haunted my dreams, at night and during the day. I finally realized that I would never stop loving her. What could I do.

It was last resort time. I got in my car and drove for two hours until I came to her apartment in Kansas City. I knocked on her door. When she opened it I could see she was baffled. I told her that I didn't care what the problems were, we had to be together once in a while.

We spent another two years traveling back and forth and really getting to know each other. At last we made our decision. I moved to Kansas City, joining her in her apartment on the Plaza. After her ex husband died we got the family dog, Benjamin. We were now a family.

Paula wanted to go to college, so we decided to move back to Columbia so she could get her degree. I found a job with the University Hospital in the computer department. She worked and studied and I worked and got ahead until I was a Progammer/Analyst.

After she completed her two degrees she started working for the University herself as an Education Specialist. I then left my job and completed my degree and continued on to get my MA.

We had become a typical family. A typical loving family.

It took awhile, but we will be together, forever.

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