“And a week later, Chinese New Years. Jim invited Kathy to join him and his family for Chinese New Years in San Francisco. Go to the best restaurant in Chinatown, then the parade. She was really excited.
“Next day she came over and announced she had another commitment for that evening. A Job’s Daughters’ shindig. Wasn’t it the initiation of her friend Dorothy as exalted queen, or something. Couldn’t miss it, even for a date with this cute guy.
“And, I think you said she suggested you two call Jim, and ask if he’d invite you for the date instead. He did that. You had a great time with him, delicious food, cool parade with fireworks.
“You ran over to Kathy’s early next morning, you told me. Soon as you woke up, even before Kathy got dressed. And you went on and on about how cool Jim was. You admitted to me you were a bit cruel to Kathy, but she was OK with it. Even after you told her you wanted him for your boyfriend.
“A couple of weeks later, Easter Sunday, after church, you invited Jim over. Told Kathy he could decide which of you he wanted for his girlfriend. Kathy played chopsticks on your piano for him. You made faces behind her back. Not your finest moment, was it? When she tried to speak, you interrupted. She walked out in a huff, and you pounced on Jim. By the end of the afternoon, you even got him to kiss you. And what did you do? Trounced over to Kathy’s house to claim victory.
‘“Easter is the highpoint of the Christian year,’ you chortled to all who listened. And Kathy found Pete, this brilliant mad scientist kid with a geeky younger brother for her sister. So she was happy. And for the next year and a half Kathy hosted necking parties in her basement with you and Jim, her and Pete, and Maggie, her sister, and Pete’s brother. You never told your parents about these, did you? They just thought you and Kathy were listening to the Everly Brothers by yourselves. Johnny Mathis was better for the ambience!
“You went through your senior year in high school this way. Homecoming your mother made a putrid pink dress for you. And for your senior prom you borrowed one of the formals Kathy wore for Job’s Daughters. That way your mom couldn’t offer to make you another dress.
“During spring break you told me you went to the town of Happy Camp, an hour or two beyond Mount Shasta, to visit the Clays, family friends. And, since it was Jim’s birthday, you used your allowance to buy him a buck rabbit you named Happy. He did raise rabbits, and you knew he needed a new buck. And when you had to drive back home, five hours, sandwiched between your brothers with that rabbit in your lap, you didn’t even complain about all the scratches Happy gave you.
“Came time to select colleges. Jim got into UC Davis. Wanted to be a veterinarian, and they had a good vet school there. You told me you deferred to your parents choices. They chose your school, University of the Pacific, less than 50 miles from Davis.
“You came up here, settled into Covell Hall, became my roommate. We call it the “Cow Palace.” A college with less that 1200 students and they have one dorm for 400 women?
“All of the rules for “Pacific Women” were explained to us. We have a standard to uphold. Nylons, dresses, heels. Only before noon on Saturdays, or when we walk around with tennis racquets can we wear pants. And you knew the rule about no curlers downstairs. We must uphold our image. Our punishment for not meeting these standards? Campused. We have to go into our dorm room by 5:00, and not leave the room until the following morning.
“So at 3:00 on a quiet Saturday afternoon, you decide to wash your hair and put it up on rollers. It should be dry by dinner. You’ll have an excuse for getting homework done. I heard the intercom buzz at 4:00. “Ann, you have a young man visiting. Says his name is Jim.”
“You hadn’t seen him for two months. You’d been telling me over and over how much you missed him. You’d both promised to be true to one another. You loved him.
“You didn’t think. You bounded out of the room and down to the lobby, shorts on and rollers in your hair. I followed.
“He looked pretty sweaty. He had ridden his bike all the way from Davis, he explained, as he gathered you up into a kiss.
“And then Mrs. Dowling, our house mother marched in. She grabbed you by the arm and dragged you back to the elevator. ‘Campused,’ she shrieked. ‘Don’t come back down here until tomorrow.’
“I hung back to talk to Jim. He really is cute. What a dimple on his left cheek! He told me he had snuck off his campus, and needed to be back on the road before he was reported missing Sunday morning. Wouldn’t even be able to wait around until you were released from your room in the morning.
“No worries. I told him I was going up to get a jacket. We could have supper at the Union, and there was a movie showing at the Y. I’ll entertain him, and you can get your homework done.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"