Friday, August 5, 2011

Yes, That's My Husband ~ Cross Country

It is summer and I have been lazy - but I am writing another chapter in my ongoing story of being part of an interracial couple. This time, I am going to talk about driving across country, from San Diego to Philadelphia.

For the first two years of our marriage, I drove everywhere because my husband, Buzz, did not know how to drive. I could see how difficult it would be to learn in New York City, and San Diego, amid heavy traffic. However, after a while, I got tired of getting up in the middle of the night when Buzz was the agent cashier, and driving him to his office on the base, so he could pay sailors who arrived and did not have any money for a motel or anything. I was determined that he would learn to drive!

For his birthday, I paid for driving lessons and he was not impressed with the way the school was teaching him - no classroom instruction, but putting him behind the wheel of the car and teaching him as he was driving. We bought a Plymouth Horizon that was an automatic, went out practicing, and a week after Buzz got his license, we started driving across the United States.

Before we left, a black friend of ours said to stick to the highways, and not to drive on back roads, especially through the Deep South. We took his advice, because he was from Alabama, and being Northerners, we knew little about the South. We pretty much went along Interstate 40 for most of our trip.

Having lived in California, I was used to wearing bright colors, which I love. The first night, when we stopped in Kingman, Arizona, I thought people were staring because I was wearing a brightly colored shirt. As our trip went along and we stopped to eat (love those Stuckey's Restaurants!), get gas, or stop at a motel, people stared at us.

It was the second day, when we were in New Mexico and went to a restaurant for brunch, that people really stared. At first, I thought it was my hot pink pants and top, with my teal big shirt over them that was the cause, but I suddenly realized that people were staring at us because we were an interracial couple. Depending on the place, the waiter/cashier/reservation desk clerk would either acknowledge only one of us or not look at us at all when we were talking to them.

It began to get to us, because we planned on taking our time and  the trip starting feeling like it was going on forever. Every time we stopped, it was the same story. Finally, we made our way to the naval base in Memphis, Tennessee. When we stopped at the front gate and asked directions to the Navy Lodge, the guard was the first person in days that did not bat an eye. Of course1 Interracial relationships are very common in the military.

We stayed overnight at the base and it was like a vacation - we felt like we blended right in, bright clothes and all. After that, as we made our way up to Philadelphia, people did not stare that often and the trip started to feel like fun.

I left Buzz at the airport in his dress blue uniform, his clothes tightly packed into a duffel bag. He flew to his new assignment, a ship called the Raleigh, which was somewhere in the Mediterranean. Alone, I drove up to Maine, where I stayed until February, when I drove to Virginia and found an apartment for us. For my next chapter, I will talk about starting our life in Norfolk, where we lived for seven years.


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