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THE London evening was chilly. Tyrone and I, having finished packing for our return to California, were sitting on the floor, propped up against the couch, watching the logs blaze in the fireplace. And I kept thinking how surprising and wonderful it was that, even though Tyrone and I have been married only a few months, I am so completely accustomed to my life with him.
It's because of our mutual experiences during these past few months, I think. They have brought us closer together than we might have become in years of a more average existence. Take last April -- that night when my plane, ready for the landing, swept low over Casablanca. Below I could see the rooftops of the ancient Moroccan city bathed in moonlight, and, above, the sky was filled with millions of stars. And next to me -- an empty seat. For the first time since our marriage, Tyrone and I had been separated.
I could still see him in Rome, saying goodbye to me. “It won’t be long, Linda,” he said. “A couple of weeks at the most.”
After being married to Tyrone for three months, a two weeks’ separation seemed a lifetime. But Tyrone’s picture, The Black Rose , was starting in Meknes, French Morocco. He had to get there the fast way possible -- by plane via Marseille and Casablanca.
Since I was still traveling with a Mexican passport, I had to get permission to enter French Morocco; and special permissions take time. So what would have been our first Easter together, turned out to be the two loneliest weeks I’ve ever spent.
To make matters worse, gossip columnists were quickly proclaiming that Tyrone an I were separating because our marriage had gone on the rocks.
My plane swept lower, made a beautiful landing and -- I was in Tyrone’s arms!
Tyrone whispered into my ear, “We’ll never be separated again.”
“Never,” I cried.
Before driving to Meknes, we stopped at a small, French restaurant. On the table stood candles. A native band played strange, fascinating music. To give some relief from the early summer heat, big fans twirled constantly.
Tyrone selected our dinner like a connoisseur. He knows food. He’s been halfway around the world. And he travels with his eyes wide open, enthusiastic about each new discovery.
It was this boyish enthusiasm that first attracted me to Tyrone, his eagerness to learn about people and their customs, their habits and history. I, too, have seen a good part of the world. My father, a Dutch engineer, took me to most parts of Europe, the Near East and Central and South America. Actually, before I married I had a good life, the travel I love and many advantages which do not fall to everyone’s lot. It never occurred to me then that life could be any better. But now that I’m married to Tyrone, everything has taken on a new value. I’m happier than I dreamed anyone could be. As the saying goes, “I never had it so good.” Never before, for instance, did I see any country the way I’ve since seen these countries with Tyrone; not even the places I’d visited first, like Spain and Italy where I should have been the guide. Now, in two weeks in Casablanca, Tyrone had learned more about the Moroccan way of preparing food than most women learn about home cooking in a six-week Red Cross nutrition course.
After dinner, we drove to Meknes, our home for the next couple of months. At that time of the year, Meknes is one of the most desolate places in the Sahara Desert. The heat and sandstorms keep the tourists away from early spring till late fall. The climate is supposed to be unbearable for anyone but the natives. Yet we were looking forward to our stay.
The first three months of our marriage had been hectic. Our wedding in Rome turned out to be a public affair. Our honeymoon had been no less publicized.
At Meknes, we would be alone.
Tyrone told me to expect no luxuries. “Life in Meknes is primitive,” he said.
When we pulled up in front of an adobe hut, our home-to-be, I thought “primitive” is an understatement. This seemed strictly prehistoric.
The one and only hotel was closed for the summer. All persuasion by Twentieth Century-Fox to keep it open for the Black Rose company had ended in failure. Instead, they’d gotten the next best place for us -- an adobe hut. It certainly gave me an opportunity to prove I could make a home for my husband -- under any circumstances.
We had no servants. I did all our cooking, washing and ironing. I bought canned food mostly. Not because it was easier to prepare. I enjoy cooking. But we had no modern refrigerator -- as a matter of fact, no refrigerator! In the African heat, fresh food would have spoiled too quickly. But my Tyrone, connoisseur of food, didn’t complain once -- I guess he really loves me.
Once in a while we had a special celebration, with fresh meat and all. One such occasion was Tyrone’s birthday, May 5. I even managed to get some French champagne from Casablanca. And the portable radio I had ordered from the United States arrived the day before.
After about eight weeks in Meknes, we moved to Ouarzazat , and our trip, which took us across North Africa’s highest mountains, the Atlas range, proved almost fatal.
As Tyrone and I approached the rugged Atlas range, it began to rain. The higher we drove, the harder the rain came down. As we neared the summit I snuggled closer to Tyrone, unable to rid myself of a feeling of impending disaster.
The rain turned to hail. Then snow. Already, in weak places, the flood was washing over the road.
Then it happened! The road in front of us was cut off. Quickly, Tyrone turned the car around and headed back. Fifteen minutes later, we came to another break where the road was washed away. We were trapped!
For three days we drove back and forth between the washed-out points. On foot, we waded through the flooded areas. But we reached only another washed-off place and another. Everywhere telephone poles were down, with wires lying across the road to create yet another hazard. Our plight seemed hopeless.
However, we were lucky at least in one respect -- we found a deserted hut close to the road where we could spend the nights. Inside it was freezing cold. We had no firewood, naturally. Later, Tyrone told me that he, too, never had been that cold before, not even during his service in the Marine Corps.
Finally, after three days, the storm subsided. Immediately the rescue work began. Luckily it was known that we were trapped on the Atlas road. This was one time we were glad about publicity. It saved our lives.
To fly a plane into the wild, mountainous country was impossible. Instead, hundreds of natives went to work mending the road. No modern equipment was available. By hand, stone after stone had to be picked up and placed in the washed-out sections. After ten hours of feverish work, a rescue car got within five miles of us. Tyrone and I waded through the mud to the waiting car and were taken back to Marrakech where we took off again, by plane, for Ouarzazat. Then we went on to England o finish the picture.
But in spite of the hardships, and although I am happy to be returning o California, I am grateful for our African sojourn. When two people live as primitively as Tyrone and I did, when they are as dependent on each other as we were, they learn to know if they are right for each other. We are.
Like any other married couple, we have had our ups and downs. But not often. And never for long. When Tyrone gets angry with me, he’ll take a book and slouch down in a chair, seemingly oblivious of the rest of the world -- including me.
To make up, I usually play coy. Then we both have a good laugh, and it’s over.
In some ways, Tyrone and I have changed since our marriage. My worst habit has always been my carelessness in spending money.
One such extravagance occurred in Rome, shortly before we left for Africa. I came home with half-a-dozen evening dresses.
Tyrone ventured, “Are you going to wear them in the Sahara Desert?”
I hesitated. “I didn’t really think . . . “ I said. And the following day, I returned all six dresses. Since then, I have carefully considered beforehand what and how much to buy.
My appearance is changing, too. I used to wear my hair in long, loose curls, which framed my face. Tyrone suggested that I emphasize my cheeks. Now I comb my hair away from the face, straight toward the back of my head.
Going stocking less used to be another habit of mine, acquired from living in tropical countries. Tyrone prefers to see me in stockings. Consequently, the only time I don’t wear them is when I’m in a bathing suit.
My lack of punctuality presented Tyrone with another problem. No excuse could possibly justify the many times I’ve let him wait for me. He’s been angry, I know, but he never scolded me. However, he taught me a lesson in punctuality -- in his own way. It happened in England, while he was finishing The Black Rose . Having finished work early one day, he promised to pick me up in front of the beauty parlor.
Over the phone, he said, “I’ll meet you outside.”
“Please be on time, Tyrone,” I told him, “My hair will be up in curls. I wouldn’t like to be seen like that on the street.”
Tyrone knew. He knew so well that he was one hour and twenty minutes late! Now I try to be at least five minutes early for an appointment, whether I am meeting Tyrone or anyone else.
Tyrone has changed in some ways, too. I haven’t consciously tried to change him. I don’t believe wives should. But I’ll admit that I’m happy that Tyrone smokes considerably less than he used to. Probably, because I don’t smoke at all.
We have many things in common, like our love of travel. To us, going to a new country means more than just buying a ticket, getting there by the fastest possible way, seeing the sights recommended in the official tourist guide -- and heading for the next place. Before we go anywhere, we make detailed plans of what we want to see. Then we study the country’s history geography, customs and language.
Having lived in so many different countries, I’ve managed to learn seven languages -- more or less fluently. I’m teaching Tyrone Spanish. An enthusiastic pupil, he already knows it so well that when he wrote a Spanish letter to my mother in Mexico, he didn’t make a single mistake!
We have other interests in common, too. Books and music. The theater and sports. But soon, we’ll add another -- the most important one of all -- our baby!
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