Nobu and I were driving home from a co-worker’s party and he confided in me he had gone to a palm reader. Nobu announced in a tone of absolute certainty, “She told me I will never marry and never have children. I will die alone.”
“I’m not so sure if that is absolutely true”, and patted his hand.
Somewhere between dating advice, deep discussions about politics (we were both liberal) and religion (he was Buddhist, I was comfortably Christian) like turned to really like which turned to love.
He stopped trying to fix me up with his friends and we moved in together. This was not uncommon in the 1970’s but it still embarrassed my family.
Nobu was still firmly committed to the destiny that had been predicted, which was fine with me until it wasn’t.
“We need to get married now.”
“Alice, we are married. Married in the way of nature. Married like the birds.”
“Yes, well, we need to get married. Married like people.”
“All right. But what if I change my mind? Will everything be the same?”
“Sure it will. The chairs will be the same. The car will be the same. The only thing that will be different is that I’ll be gone.”
I had always considered myself meek and modern. Apparently there was a traditionalist lurking beneath the surface.
I kissed my fiancé on the lips then went off to make arrangements. Which turned out to be more complicated than I thought.
We were a generation determined to be liberated from the stifling rules that governed the lives of our parents. After all, we were smarter, more sophisticated, better educated. We were about choices, not restrictions.
We had birth control pills. Women were televised burning undergarments, protesting even those manifestations of bondage.
When I announced my intentions of marriage my peers barraged me with questions.
Would I lose my name and take Nobu’s? Would I at least hyphenate, thereby maintaing some semblance of my past self? Would I keep my career, establishing my independence.
It was all a bit too much.
I started avoiding modern restaurants with lengthy menus that read like novellas.
My mother and I had a favorite restaurant in St. Louis, Marie’s. I was lucky that there was a Marie’s in Denver too. Marie’s had a choice of two entrees. The cost of a beverage and dessert was included. No self-examination of have I had too much coffee today, or do I really need a piece of cake?
When the waitress asked the familiar , “Pork picatta or spinach pie?” I could feel my Mom’s presence in the empty seat, guiding me, helping me. I was ready to decide.
I would keep wearing a bra because I was modest.
I became Mrs. Horibe because I wanted us to share a name along with a future.
I would not sustain my career, which was no big sacrifice since I didn’t have one.
The next big question was what kind of a ceremony did I want? In a moment of self-awareness I realized I hated crowds and especially disliked being the center of attention.
This precluded most styles of weddings so we decided to get married at the courthouse.
Mom queried on multiple occasions if I was sure I didn’t want a formal ceremony. She wanted to protect me from making a decision I’d regret.
I reassured her during each call.
“Alice, are you trying to avoid asking your father for the money?”
“Oh, Mom, that has nothing to do with it.” A lie.
“I can afford to pay for your wedding.” Another lie.
“Mom, this is how I want it to be. This is what makes me happy. I will never regret it.” Which was true.
Two days later, the same conversation. She didn’t understand how I could be so different from her. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t see that I was that different. A not uncommon mother/daughter situation. In the end she sent me the money for something special to wear and I splurged on a green knit dress with a matching sweater.
It was April 15th. I would be married next week.