Monday, August 31, 2009

Marrying Weng - Getting Ready For Her Arrival


Hello Again Readers,

This is gonna be a long post but I hope to finish it sometime tonight!
Yikes! Small Delay!! Check back in a couple of hours......

Looks like I am needed on the homefront, so small change in timing - look for my posting tomorrow night....(although it may be done late in the am)

Back again. Lots going on just a week before school starts. So, how do I begin this part anyway? Lets see......

Weng & I were married. I guess I will have to do a 'flashback' a little later and tell you my side of the story of the big event.... I had run out of time and money and my bags were packed and we parted. That was hard. Watching my little bride on the big island getting smaller and smaller as I jetted east, back to what the residents of the 3rd call 'The Promised Land'. I was apprehensive. Having lived the island life for a month I watched the world sloooooowww down and my life seemed more 3 dimensional somehow. Now I was headed back again to The Madness, The Rush, The Clock and the Almighty Dollar. In no time at all my life re-compressed and it seemed that only the beauty of Oregon offered salvation. I was going crazy - Up at 5am, work pounding nails at 5:30/6am, eating lunch on the fly from a bag, starting the car at 2pm, starting hell job apartment rehabs at 2:30pm, starting the car at 6:30pm, delivering pizzas at 7pm, starting the car 20 to 30 times a night, home in bed, pizza in the belly at 11pm. Start again..Weekends were heaven, only pizza delivery at night. During the day I was a madman carpenter - I took the cabin and cut in half with a chainsaw, I elevated the back half up on 12' high telephone poles, I slept with my eyes on the sky through a non existent roof, thinking of Weng, so very, very far away.

Then things started getting a bit complicated, as any best laid plan may. I got a letter from the INS. (Immigration and Naturalization Service). I was POSITIVE I had filled out the paperwork correctly. Indeed I had. The problem was that, somehow, they sent Wengs paperwork to me instead of to her!! Rats. Calls, waiting on letters, (remember, no internet back then), Long distance calls, the paperwork going back into the system for a reload. Delays were on the horizon and my heart was breaking. I became listless. Work became even less thrilling. The saving beacon of it all was the house - get it done, make it right, let Weng choose the colors. I lived for the weekend. The money jar filled and filled. I began playing the music a lot louder in my car. Summer was winding down. No idea when Weng would arrive. Could be a year I was told.

Then, the night of the fateful flying pizza. A dark courtyard in a low budget apartment complex. The giant black flowerpot left by mistake on the unlit sidewalk by a gardener in the rainy night. Bam. The dreadful POP as my right knee hit the concrete. The apartment door opened at the noise and I stumbled in with the pizza totally trashed, just like my knee. Rats.

Shortly thereafter I am in a full leg sprint and the surgery has left my knee the size of a small cantaloupe. I have crutches. Ever try to pound nails on crutches? Drive a standard shift in a leg sprint? Worse than the total shut off of the income - THE ROOF. Soon it would begin Oregon raining. Windy, non stop raining. I watched from my tent as the inside of the house melted. I went to the INS. Please, is there anyway to get my Wife home a little sooner? No. Revisit. No. Rats.

Write letters. Nothing. Another appointment, the folks at the INS office were getting to know me. The office was so very, very emotionally confused. So many people there. All very nice and many wondered about my crutches and long face. Salvation was now in the a couple of times a week telephone conversation with Weng. I hobbled together (literally) a shack made of old doors and tin roof and wood stove and primitive plumbing. Friends would come from time to time and lend a hand and take me shopping for food. I hoarded every penny. I sent out money to Weng as often as I could....

One day, a friend called and we talked of times we spent ten years earlier in Portland, working hard for the No Nukes Movement. In 1984 Portland was a hotbed of activism and we did good on several big issues. It was at that time that I had a restaurant/nightclub. Every Sunday night I gave the place to the peaceniks and we raised money for good things, like sheltering battered women and their children and sending money to really, really, really poor people in Central America, and helping the bums get clothes and food and generally things like that. Well, a very important US Senator from Oregon was up for re-election. A decent, peace loving, war hating socially liberal Republican with a giant clout in the Senate - Chair of the Appropriations Committee (tricky job in the Reagan Years). It was a brutal election and Portland looked like it would determine the winner of the Oregon race. (It usually does). We flock of Liberals through our support behind the Republican who signed the checks for Reagans military buildup. His actions had always spoken louder than his words. That year The Great Communicator was re-elected with 'Morning In America' and Mondale flamed dry the last gasp of the presidential new deal. It was over and I no longer wanted any thing to do with politics. The Boomers stuck their heads in the sand and cocooned.

Ten years later the world was a different place. My friend Bill Hewitt took me to vote in the local elections in 1994, me on crutches. Shortly afterwards I thought "Why not call the Senators office and see if anything could be done to get Weng here?". The aid that answered remembered me. Politicians seldom ever forget a persons name. I talked. He said he would get back in touch. The next day I got a call. The Senator would do what he could. Time went by. I sent more letters. I received no letters. December arrived along with rotten weather. My leg brace came off. I was really missing Weng. Days blurred and I read a lot. I played a lot of guitar. The money was dripping surely away. Sometime during these dark days I got a call - The Senator had spoken with.... well, I am not sure what is aproate to say here... lets just say that the INS had a change of heart and the red tape had been replaced with words like URGENT and EXPEDITE. I was told to buy Weng a ticket putting her here sometime before Christmas. I got a early call soon after from the US Ambassador to the Philippines. Whoa.

Lots of phone calls to Weng. Crazy preparation. I did not have the heart to tell her that she would arrive to a totally broke, injured husband living in a clapboard shack.

(The news from the INS was not the only good news I received during this time but I will wait till later to tell you about that)

She would arrive on December 21, my birthday. The only available flight to be had so close to the holiday. The ticket and the money I sent for her and her mom to reach Manila and the Embassy emptied the bank. I sold everything of value I had the heart to sell. I ate government cheeze and often took meals with the same guys on the streets I had helped 10 years ago. Nothing but my hands and my heart for my new bride's Christmas present. Calls daily now as Weng adventured her way through the maze of Manila, her blog tells you what happened there. So very intense. She called to tell me she got in!! The snatched her from the line and made her a political princess and thrilled her with the good news! Then I get the call - she need $200 more dollars for some visa fee, and right away!!
My blood drained from my body. I didnt have it, and if I did, how to get it to the other side of the world so fast? No paypal back then. No ATM's in the Philippines. I called my pals. The money came fast. I pleaded at the bank to send a priority wire after hours. Somehow it happened. A total Blur. Shaky recollection and all nerves.

Time froze until she called. The ducks were in a row, a little change and time for the Philippine government to release her..... I knew she was airborn, alone, tiny, almost broke. First time alone in the Big World. Los Angles. I searched the Portland Sky as I arrived at PDX 5 hours early...

I felt I would surely die from it all.

Salud

Ps. In the late 1990's Weng and I happened upon the Senator, now retired, while walking through Portland. He remembered me and I introduced him to Weng. On the way home I told Weng that she had just met one of the truely great Statesmen of our times.

2 comments:

  1. I am waiting with baited breath!

    G

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  2. I love this story. Somehow I think Weng didn't mind that she was coming to a broke, injured husband and a shack. She seems like a really wonderful person who just wanted to be with you. Very heartwarming to learn all of this great love story.

    ReplyDelete