Billy did not fit into the equation. None of this mattered. We were in love. That crazy, hormone induced teenage love that will not be denied. Not by parents. Not by the distance between our schools.
Not even by the greater distance that resulted when he suddenly joined the
Marine Corps at seventeen. I did what I had to do?got my grades, did my extracurriculars, started my college search. And in the spring of my senior year, I got engaged to my Marine boyfriend.
This meant one thing to my parents. Terror. And the terror grew as the acceptance letters began to roll in. Of the eleven schools I applied to, nine accepted me. And one of them was Brown University. The Ivy League. It was well understood what this meant to my family.
My grandparents were immigrants who struggled to live The American Dream, to give to their children what they did not have with the understanding that those children would, in turn, give their own children even more. Neither of my parents had finished college, but my father still managed to land a job on Wall Street and work his way up the ranks.
I remember the progression of affluence well. The small houses getting bigger. The Ford Pinto being traded in for the Cadillac. And my older sister going off to college. It was my turn to do my part and I was failing miserably.
There was no question that I was drawn to Brown. Nestled in the hills of Providence, Rhode Island, with its historic buildings, traditional college green and highly privileged student body, it felt important.
But Billy was stationed down south and I had offers waiting for me there too. There was the unique choice to be made in all this. —