To know what happened earlier, click here.
Uncle Ben is down with a nasty stomach virus – and today was supposed to be shopping day, because the refrigerator is nearly empty. So Aunt Anne decided to take the car and go to town, leaving Uncle Ben to Catherine's care. I was surprised when Aunt Anne told me to take the day off schoolwork and come along with her.
Aunt Anne and I visited many different shops and bought plenty of food and other home and school supplies. After we loaded all our shopping into the car, Aunt Anne stopped by a small café and ordered two large ice-creams with whipped cream for both of us.
I was sitting and looking out of the window, enjoying myself. This was the first time I've been to a… a populated place since I came to live with Aunt Anne. Of course, eating ice-cream with Aunt Anne is not the same as tearing down the mall with Jane and Ashley, or going to the movies with Ted. But still, it's a place full of people and cars, of delightful noise. How I missed that!
Unexpectedly, Aunt Anne leaned forward and looked at me intently.
- Listen, Becky, - she said, sounding as though she's whispering a secret. – I want you to know that I understand perfectly well what you are going through.
I choked on my whipped cream, but remained silent.
- You know I didn't grow up here, right? – Aunt Anne continued, - I moved here when I got married.
I knew that.
- While I was growing up, my life was a lot like yours. Both my parents spent most of their waking hours at work. We lived in a small apartment close to the center of the city. After school, my time was mostly at my own disposal, and I wasted it, just like I wasted my parents' money – shopping with my girlfriends and just "hanging out." Still, I was a smart girl and did pretty well at school. When I was eighteen, I started studying for a degree in literature. I cannot say I was particularly interested by the lectures, but I loved the campus. I had a new, fun life! And then, quite randomly, I met Ben.
There was something about him that attracted me – something quiet, strong and real, that I didn't see in any of the young men I met before. He was stable, more mature, and this was more than just the fact he was a few years older. He was a man of action. Only a month passed since we first met when he asked me to marry him. I was confused. We barely knew each other, and I knew that my life with him would be nothing like I planned. Ben's idea of a life in a quiet, rural place clashed with the glamour I imagined and planned for my own future. I was only eighteen years old, I barely started my degree, all my friends told me how much I will miss out on if I get married so young. My parents begged me not to rush. But I didn't have much time for consideration. Ben was finishing his degree and was about to move away. I had to choose: go with him as his wife, or never see him again.
And imagine this, Becky, Ben won! I quit college and married him. We had a modest wedding, because we were in such a hurry. By the way, my wedding dress was sewn by your grandmother. She did a wonderful job, even though she had to work at top speed – I will show you the dress later. By looking at my friends' faces at my wedding, you'd think they were attending a funeral, crying over my ruined life. We didn't have any money to spare for a real honeymoon, but I supposed that our trip here, to the house in the country we bought, would be a honeymoon of sorts.
I couldn't be more wrong.
Our home, where we moved in nearly twenty years ago, badly needed repair, hardly had any furniture, the yard was neglected, the pathways barely seen through the overgrown weeds. There were no fruit trees, no vegetable patch. Everywhere I looked, chaos reigned. We hardly had any neighbors, not to mention any Jewish community – something I always took for granted, despite not being very religious as I was growing up. In the mornings, Ben would get into his car and go to work; keen to establish his reputation in his first job, he worked long hours and got a very small salary in return. I spent my entire days in an empty house, alone…
What happened next? How did Aunt Anne adjust to her new life - and came to love it? Stay tuned for the next part!