Sunday, January 27, 2008

One Loss Too Many

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in November 1957, when I was 8. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

With my initiation into the Royal Domain of the Golden Dragon out the way I was free, for a couple of days, to hunt and be hunted by huntress Diana. My memory of those days was of endless exploration of the USNS ED Patrick, most of which was spent in off-limits areas.

A perk of being 8: If an adult steps over an off-limits sign and gets caught, the MPs are called in, and they draw weapons and shout orders. If a young and not too ugly kid does it, everyone smiles so long as there's no immediate danger of the kid getting hurt. This principle applies even more to 8-year old lovers.

One of the most memorable kissing & hugging sessions of my life was thus conducted on a catwalk within the engine room of the ship. The men monitoring the engine knew we were there and just smiled. None of them bothered us. No one told us to leave.

The next distraction from all that was Tokyo. We arrived at a Tokyo pier in the morning and those that wanted could spend the day exploring the city. So Diana and I got separated as her Father and my Mother took us apart and went sight-seeing in two different groups.

Tokyo was just a hint of what would was to come in Taiwan. It was strange, but not that strange. It's always a xenomanic moment to find oneself in a city surrounded by signs in a foreign language. It's even better if it's in a system of writing you don't know. But beyond that Tokyo wasn't too much different from other bustling over-crowded cities I'd seen.

We had another two days together after the Tokyo stop was over and we continued south toward Taiwan. At no time did we talk about our destinations. I assumed that she was going to Taiwan and probably Taipei, and we could see each other there. She probably assumed that I was going to Okinawa.

It wasn't until we docked in Okinawa that we found out that we'd probably never see each other again.

I had expected that we could only be together for the time my Mother and I were to be in Taiwan, at most a year, but to have that year suddenly turn into 13 days time-served with one hour remaining felt like being hit by a truck.

I panicked. I begged Diana's Dad to take me with him. He might have thought I was joking.

Diana and I hugged goodbye and I watched her walk off the ship, knowing that it was going to be a long time before I could let myself become attached to any one person again.

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