From our Classic Archives, originally published March/April 2004 issue
I just spent my honeymoon at The Prom with my high-school sweetheart, quite a feat considering I am a fifty-five-year-old school teacher…
It began when I received spam e-mail regarding my 1963 high school class. It suggested that I register on a reunion website called “classmates.com.”
I found hundreds of names at the website and it cost nothing to register. However, to contact and e-mail a classmate would cost thirty bucks. Being naturally cheap, I registered, but didn’t pay. If someone wants to find me, let him pay.
To my surprise, someone (a more generous “someone” than I), found me very quickly. I received a short, casual e-mail from an old high school sweetheart.
“Hope all is well with you and yours.”
Very noncommittal. But then, I hadn’t seen this boy—now a man—in thirty-five years. For all he knew, I could be married or the village idiot.
But I happened to be divorced and pleased to hear from him. He had been my first love back in the sixties. After I went to college, we went our separate ways as a matter of course, but he remained in my memories as an artistic, smart, sweet, funny and wild guy.
Back in the old days, we had a lot in common, especially our love of the ocean, and we used to feel as if we had a Star Trek-like “Vulcan mind-meld,” as if we could read each other’s minds. And so I wrote back to him. And a door opened.
His ensuing e-mails were darling, romantic, nostalgic and sensitive:
…it’s a funny thing, time… I’ve been married, I’ve suffered the loss of many people including my first wife. I’ve been remarried, divorced. I’ve traveled; I’ve seen; I’ve hung with famous people and even have become a tiny bit famous myself. I’ve worked hard, played hard. I’ve owned my own company and sold it… and all the time, you’ve never left my heart.
…the moon is full right now… I watched it rise up from the horizon over the ocean today… it was big, and peachy-colored, and it sucked you right in. It was a full moon… high tide… and the fishermen were all out tonight… why don’t we go on an ocean adventure together… you and me? Let’s go find the Southern Cross…
We started seeing each other, and, in short order, married after being apart over thirty-five years.
It was mutually decided that in order to have our ocean adventure and to find the Southern Cross, we would travel to the southernmost point of the Australian coast. And so we arrived at a rugged national park, set against ancient hills and spectacular granite cliffs called “Wilson’s Promontory”, or, in Aussie slang: “The Prom.”
A welcoming committee of Kookaburra birds guffawed and chuckled from the tea trees overhead. Were they laughing at such an old pair of embracing honeymooners?
At the base of gum-tree covered hills lay the sweeping sandy beaches of the Bass Straits. There, we set off to explore the park’s “Whiskey Bay.” The sea was a deep teal-grey; the beach a pale pink. High, wave-smoothed boulders surrounded us, their grey and white surfaces mottled with bursts of bright orange lichen. Behind us, lush, unspoiled hills of tea-tree forest rose. The energy of the place seemed timeless, like our rediscovered love.
We held hands while darkness fell. We turned on flashlights and watched with childish glee as fat, waddling wombats emerged from underground burrows to chomp on stiff grass. Brushtail possums, eyes aglow, peeked at us.
The darkening sky soon became filled with alien, Aboriginal lights. And there, on the shores of Whiskey Bay, the Southern Cross emerged from the heavens and shone upon us. Holding each other as if those thirty-five years had never passed, we stood looking up at the mystical sky. I was eighteen again and the loveliest creature ever alive, a true “Prom” Queen, barefoot in the sand at Whiskey Bay!
—Carol R. Reed
Palmyra, New Jersey
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