Before we left to take Lena to the airport I had warned Alan that I might burst into floods of tears but I thought I was quashing my emotions pretty well. That is until, walking away from the departure gate, he said, oh so cheerfully, ‘well, you didn’t cry, did you?’ I could have sat down right there and wept. Instead, I went to the Ladies and after ten or so minutes of concentrating on other things I composed myself.
When I was ready to leave the toilets I thought of my specs! Alan hadn’t seen me in my spectacles. I was about to enter a vast hall without a clue of where he is likely to be waiting. Would I be able to recognise him at a distance! Or would I be blindly wandering around feeling and looking like an idiot. Ok, perhaps my eyesight wasn’t that bad but it would leave me at a disadvantage. There was no help for it. I needed to get out my specs. I needed to get this awkward moment out of the way.
He was waiting at the bottom of the stairs and hardly reacted to the ‘me’ he hadn’t seen before.
The weather has been beautiful all day and Alan suggested we went back via Richmond and maybe out on the river as we had all afternoon ahead of us. We both decided that was a good idea and were starting out for the station when he says, ‘Or, would you like to go to Bognor? We are about half way there.’ So, I agreed to Bognor. ‘That would be nice.’ I said. I don’t know how it happened but at about 4 o’clock we arrived back at Alan’s house, after going nowhere.
We did nothing at all special. Except maybe that he introduced me to his father. I am the first of Alan’s girlfriends who has had that pleasure and Alan reckons that will be around the family grapevine in no time.
Did I say all my doubts and fears were gone last Friday when Alan said he loved me? If there was the slightest niggling doubt left it didn’t have a chance after tonight. For the first time since he has been back Alan mentioned marriage. This was the first time we had been alone so this was the first opportunity.
I can’t remember how he brought the subject up. Just the warm glow that went through me because he did. We gave ourselves a choice of two dates on which we could get engaged. There was the day that Ron and Brenda get married, 14th October or Christmas, the time we had spoken of last January.
There was a lot to be said against the 14th October. Firstly it was very soon after his return. Not from our point of view but from my parents’. Then, it was Ron and Brenda’s day and I don’t think they would like anything else important happening and neither would I.
I didn’t much fancy the idea of Christmas as everyone gets engaged at Christmas. Or, at least it is a traditional time and I wanted to be different. I mean to be the centre of attention when I take my ring to work and not have anyone else share the limelight.
My suggestion of January 4th, a year to the day after we met was considered and accepted. So, January 4th it is!
Then we discussed a wedding day. I think Alan had already decided on his own mind that we should marry sometime next year. I explained my views on this. I don’t want to get married before I’m twenty at the earliest.
I don’t think that I am particularly mature for my age and so, I don’t think I could manage the responsibility of a house and a husband so soon. We both thought, in that case, the autumn of 1963 would be the best time to marry. This time in two years, I’ll either be an old married woman or well wrapped up in wedding arrangements.
But I can see it is going to be a very nerve-wracking business keeping each other at arm’s length.
We got back to my house at 11 o’clock after being away for thirteen hours. So long in his company, yet it went so quickly. Mum said she had thought we had gone to Sweden with Lena. She hadn’t worried at all because on leaving I had said I don’t know when I’ll see you. To which she had laughed and replied, ‘I gathered that.’
That Lena had gone hadn’t truly sunk in – or, let’s say, I hadn’t really missed her until I went into the bedroom and saw Jennifer asleep in there surrounded by all Jennifer things. As I said, if Alan hadn’t been home I would have been a lot more upset. As it was I got into bed and didn’t think of Lena. I thought of Alan and being married to him.