We graduated from college, got married, and left for an assignment in Germany. That was the beginning of our moving from pillar to post.
We visited my hometown for Christmas and summers, but as the years went by, I lost touch with former high school classmates.
My husband’s family was stationed in France where he attended the Paris American High School, graduating in 1957. To this day the Department of Defense operates dependent schools in over 11 countries where the American military is stationed. However, we no longer have a military presence in France as of about 1971, when Paris American High School closed, having been a dependent school since 1952.
Several years ago, a former alumnus formed an association for those military “brats” who attended a Department of Defense school overseas. The organization has grown to around 11,000 with gatherings all over the United States and perhaps beyond.
Years ago, my husband heard that his former high school in Paris, France was having a homecoming celebration in Washington, D.C. area and he suggested that we go. It was one of those events that you never want to attend, but I accompanied him.
As we drove to the event, he said “I wonder if what’s her name, a high school girlfriend, will be there? Of course, she was there with her husband, so the two former classmates caught up on life after Paris, and her husband and I made very small talk. The evening was filled with music, speeches, and dancing. All in all, it was a painfully boring and endless evening. That was the one and only high school reunion that we attended together.
In 2008 my husband announced that he was going to another high school reunion, this time in Orlando, Florida to celebrate the 51 years since his graduation. He did not ask if I’d like to go and I’d probably have said “no” if he had. However, a friend of mine who is married to a very successful man often said, “I go with him even if I don’t want to,” I could tell that he was looking forward to the weekend meet-and-greet celebration, however, at 68 I was clueless why he wanted to return to the high school days.
They gathered at a hotel in Orlando for the weekend of remembrances. There must have been many saying, “Oh I don’t remember that, or oh! my gosh, I had forgotten that” as the school had been closed for 37 years.
I picked him up at the airport where I had left him off two short days before. I didn’t detect anything that told me “what a difference a day makes.” However, about 5 months later I received a phone call from his [supposed] fiancé asking how I was related to him. She said, “He told me that you had been dead for five years.” Wow! I gave him 46 years of helping him with his career and raising our family! It turns out that he met her in those 48 hours at the gala in Orlando. She, too, attended Paris American High School but 12 years after him. Reportedly, they met at the registration table and she conveniently lived in Virginia.
I called his phone immediately and he said, “I’m divorcing you” and promptly hung up. Geez Louise, what in the hell just happened?
Divorcing him was a long-drawn-out 8-year project. He had the backing of his new wife who had been divorced twice before. She did not encourage him to have a relationship with his adult kids nor did he follow the divorce agreement concerning alimony.
The justice system makes the divorce rules and if one of the parties fails to execute their responsibilities, there are only two choices: file court documents time after time or walk away. He would never have been welcome in my home and I am very happy that he has moved on except for his abandoning his kids.
I can report that the two Paris American High School love birds are still re-living their high school years, at 81 and 69.