Kat’s Book: What Was He Thinking?

I was in the middle of the best relationship I ever had with a woman;  I was thoroughly enjoying the relationship  and I thought the world of her.  She was unlike anyone I had ever met.  I decided to do the only thing that made no sense at all; quit my job, leave Kat, and travel for six weeks.  I decided I wanted to travel across country as I did six months ago, with Jeff Coles.  I had a burning desire to do this.   This time I wanted a longer trip.  The only way that was going to happen is if I quit my job.  Once I made up my mind, sometime in late April,  I know I told Kat what I was going to do but I don’t really remember discussing it  with her.  I know I did not say to her, “How do you feel about me doing this?”.  I don’t recall how I brought up the subject but I know I did so with full confidence that it wouldn’t be a problem.    When I think about what I did and what I risked, I am horrified.  What was I thinking?   There are any number of objections Kat could have brought up in any number of ways.  Yet, she accepted what I was going to do and raised no issues.  I only remember one time Kat said  “No” to me on almost any important issue in our entire life together.  This wasn’t the time.  For the next six months I would intermingle several dumb decisions with two of the three greatest events in my life.  1968 would end up being the greatest year in my life in spite of an unparalleled streak of dumbness on my part. This trip started the streak.   Before I made the decision to travel I had bought tickets for a July 6 performance of Fiddler On The Roof on Broadway.  I told Kat I would be back by for that performance.

It only occurred to me recently that Kat knew she was in love with me before I realized was in love with her.  That thought brings me to tears because no one deserved to be loved more than Kat.  I may have been in love with her at the time of the trip.  If I was, I did not realize it at the time I made the decision to travel.  I will never know why Kat didn’t raise any objections.  Maybe she knew something I didn’t know.  Some people have suggested that she realized I would need to do something before making a commitment to her.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.

I asked my cousin, Bill Orzen, to join me on the trip.  When he took his time making up his mind I bought a Greyhound bus ticket for $150 that would let me travel anyplace in the United States for six months.  That pushed Bill to join me and I returned the bus ticket to Greyhound for a refund.  We also asked our cousin, Steve Jacobs, to join us but Steve turned us down.  He has told me on several occasions that he wished he had come along with us.   Our transportation was going to be a car we would drive to Arizona for someone who would be moving there.  We got the vehicle through an agency who specialized in making those arrangements.  Bill and I left around May 26.

I sent Kat a postcard every week and I phoned her a couple of times.  I know, real romantic (sarcasm).  As time went on I began to miss her more and more.  Bill wanted to stay in California for several more weeks but I wanted to get home.  We flew back from California on July 4.  I called her when I got home and went to her apartment to see her and make plans for the next day when we would see our first Broadway play together.  Fiddler on the Roof was the first of approximately 50 Broadway plays we would see.   How do I describe how good it was to see her?  If I wasn’t yet in love with her before the trip, I was soon after I got home.  During the trip Bill and I drove the car about 1100 miles, hitch-hiked about 1325 miles,  and took buses about 1135 miles.  It was an adventure.  In a way, one that changed both Bill’s life and mine.   

In July my grandmother on my father’s side, my Bubbe, died.  I have known many amazing woman in my life, and three incomparable ones;  Bubbe,  born in 1872, my mother, Charlotte, born in 1908, and Kat born in 1944.  What they had in common was a great capacity for love and the ability to show it,  and a great sense of humor.  As a child growing up I loved nothing better than the family gatherings at Bubbe’s house in East New York, Brooklyn where the large family would often get together.  I would get together with my many cousins, especially Bill and Steve.

The Passover Seder was the highlight of the year.  Every family member would show up.  Bubbe had eight children, they were all married  and there were many, many grandchildren.  The house was packed and everyone loved it.  I looked forward to it every year  That came to an end when Bubbe went into a nursing home in 1966 or 1967,  prior to her passing.  Every one of her children and grandchildren loved her deeply and remembers those days with great fondness.

Those wonderful days were replaced for me in my married life with the Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings at Kat’s family.  Different times, but also great times.


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