Well that afternoon Tom did come back to my parents apartment on his way to Kennedy Airport. He basically was coming back to do a very old fashioned kind of thing.....ask my Father for my hand in marriage. I didn't know he was going to do that until he arrived at my door....I held my breathe, had no idea how my Father would respond. Both he and my Mother had been trying to talk me out of the idea of marrying Tom from the time I had told them that earlier in the day. They said that people would not accept a mixed marriage easily, we would not be accepted in certain places, people would look down on us for intermingling the races and last but not least...any children that we would have would have a battle on their hands from day one. Now, mind you my parents are not racists....they were just spelling out to me how cruel the world in general can be when you don't fit their mold or idea of the perfect life to live.
So it was with trepidation that I led Tom into the livingroom to speak to my Father....my Mother and I went back into the kitchen.
It was about ten minutes and the two men came into the kitchen laughing. My Mother and I exchanged glances (sort of oh no what's going on now)...my Father turned to me and said "Tom has asked for your hand in marriage and I've told him I do not have a problem with your marrying him, in fact you have my blessing."
Whew!! Whatever Tom had said had won the day...my folks never brought up the "problems" that we supposedly would have ever again. I said my goodbyes to Tom, knowing that I would not see him for at least three months maybe more. I had alot to get prepared, not only for the wedding but I had to get a visa, a passport, shots ... all kinds of stuff. Then I found out I couldn't get a long term visa unless I had a job over there to go to or someone would have to write a Letter of Credit for me that would guarantee I would not become penniless over there.
Well, Okura New York, once again came to the forefront and wrote a Letter of Credit for me. I applied for the visa and passport so that was going along nicely. I was still working at Okura and trying to learn to speak a little Japanese. Nakajima-san bought me some really good English-Japanese language books so I could practice at home too. My Mom was helping me get everything together for the wedding...we had found a beautiful long gown with a long detachable train..it was beautiful. I had found a large black steamer trunk, the kind that you used put all those travel stickers on. I could ship one trunk..so I packed very carefully.
It was like putting little pieces of home into the trunk...I can remember sitting there..thinking is this trunk worthy? Or Not?
So alot of what I had collected throughout the years unfortunately had to stay behind. My Mom had a spare room that she used for storage so I knew when we came back to the States I could retrieve my treasures. The weather in Tokyo was very similiar to New York so I packed for the different seasons. I tell you though I did have moments when I questioned myself .. the thought of traveling l0,000 miles away to a strange land to begin a new life was at times very unnerving. Tom had begun to write letters to me and they helped tremendously, they brought him closer to me than I had ever been.
The day to leave kept coming closer and closer....a day in January, cold as heck...but I had almost twenty people show up to say goodbye to me at the airport....crazy, nutty wonderful people. I can still remember the feeling of walking down the airplane corridor, turning and waving goodbye to everyone. Oh, boy...and the kicker was I had not flown in a plane since I was 4 years old. Here I was flying from New York to LA, changing flights to Hawaii...I had a three day layover in Hawaii and then onto Tokyo.I normally did not drink too much, however, there was a guy on board who insisted that everyone drink his champaigne....so my nerves being what they were I did not protest. Luckily for me too, as we approached Hawaii we hit a terrible storm, lightening strikes were hitting everywhere - lighting the sky...looking down the island seemed so tiny...I really said a prayer as we approached the landing strip.
The reason for the three day layover was my friend Sal...great guy he had worked at Okura and had joined the Marines. His unit was due to be shipped out to Vietnam. It was when they first started to add more "advisors". He had been in Hawaii for a couple of months in training...he was looking forward to seeing a face from home. Sal met my plane, the stews back then used to put leis on every passenger deplaning...I think I still have a book dried piece of the flower somewhere...it was nice having someone who knew their way around show me Hawaii. It is a beautiful, beautiful place....I was staying at the Hawaiian Village, it was very nice, loved the water too. I was also hoping when Sal got R&R he could come to Tokyo and be our guest.
On to Tokyo.