I finished packing Tuesday night. Before I left, Auntie made sure to take a picture of me in that red and white sundress standing next to the flowers from Paul. Rog tended the store so Auntie could take me to the airport. She made sure that I had brought everything with me before we left the house. On the ride to the airport, Auntie said, "You know, I'm glad you came to visit. I had probably the most fun summer I have had in a long time...and of course, I thank you for all your work at the store. Rog paid you for the rest of your work, right?" I nodded. "Good, I didn't want to have to go through the nightmare of exchanging currency over here to send over to you!"
The flight was quite nice. My family greeted me at the airport in St. Louis. It was really good to see familiar faces and sights. The ride home was full of stories of my trip, cultural differences, people I met, the slang I learned. My dad noted that I'd picked up a slight British accent, which I really hadn't noticed when I was over there, but now that I was back in the States, I certainly could tell that I'd picked up a bit of it!
When we got home, I walked in the house first. "SURPRISE!!!" My whole family and a lot of my friends were there. There was a banner in the living room that read "Welcome Home Jill!" I was so glad to see everyone, but surprisingly I hadn't been that homesick.
I was only home for a few days. Chris tried to get some time with me. He'd bought me a nice sweater as thanks for letting him use my car. I'm a nice sister, but I must admit it was partially self-serving, though. I didn't want the car sitting all summer and need a tune-up before I left for school! My mother was very concerned about my being home only a few days before I went back up to school. She was just making sure that I would be well rested and recovered from my trip before I went to school. The jet lag wasn't as bad as I thought. I went through a couple days of sleeping when it was daylight and being wide-awake at night, but I recovered pretty quickly.
We got my powder blue Plymouth Valiant loaded up and I started off to school. Chris had used my Lizzie (my car's nickname) for part of the summer, and I could tell that he had smoked in it. Heaven only knows what else he did in there, but I didn't want to think about that. My car needed some work anyway, there were rust spots and the back seat had some tears in the upholstery, but it got me from point A to point B, it was reliable, and it was paid for, so I wasn't going to complain! I got on U.S. 51 and headed up for the 3-hour drive to Bloomington. It was a pretty uneventful trip; there isn't much between St. Louis and Bloomington except Springfield!
I pulled up to the front of Pfeiffer Hall and walked in to claim my keys, taking in my first couple bags with me. I saw Anne in the lobby and we screamed and ran up to each other, and hugged for what seemed like 5 minutes. She noted that I had just a bit of an accent, and not my southern Illinois twang that snuck into my everyday speech, usually when I got mad. She helped me get everything upstairs into our room on the 2nd floor. It was the same room we had lived in the previous year, we wondered why we even had to bring all of our stuff home in the summer! She had arrived and unpacked the previous day, so her stuff wasn't in the way of mine. She helped me unpack (remembering to make the bed first 'cause it wouldn't get done otherwise), and as we organized everything, the questions started.
"Overall opinion: how was England?" Anne asked as she dug into one of my suitcases.
"Phenomenal! I hope I can go back sometime. The summers are mild, I've heard the winters aren't too bad, either. And of course, the guys are cute!" I said, blushing a little.
"Oh yeah, do you have a picture of your little friend?"
"Can't it wait until we are finished with some of this stuff? Trust me, I would love to show him off to you," I replied. As luck would have it, the very next box she opened had my pictures from England right on top. She grabbed the box and plopped herself down on the floor. She patted the floor, instructing me to sit down.
I pulled the envelopes out of the box, and some of the pictures spilled onto the floor. I hadn't realized how many pictures I took--I think I had put my camera down only to shower and sleep! I explained as I sorted through the piles, "Now, these aren't really in any order right now, and I want to make an album soon of the whole summer. And a lot of people gave me picture frames at my party, so I want to put some in those."
I opened the first picture envelope. There was a picture of Auntie, Rog, & me standing outside their house. Pictures of me at MC's. Pictures of Covent Garden, Big Ben, and other London landmarks. I knew that eventually I would get to the pictures of the Beatles and Brian and Liverpool. When I got to those pictures, Anne snatched them right out of my hands. "Oh, is this them?" she asked. "Which one's Paul?"
"Stop it! You're getting fingerprints all over the pictures." I took the pictures from her. I fished through the pictures to find the best one of Paul to show her as her first impression. I made a mental note to find the negative from that picture of Paul & me from the Cavern the night we met since I wanted a copy to put in a frame. Since I didn't have that one, I searched for a suitable replacement. I found one of him leaning against the wall by the Cavern door. He was wearing blue jeans, a black T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He had his hands in his pockets, and had just a hint of a smile on his face. I must admit he looked pretty damn good. I managed to pry my eyes away from the picture and handed it to Anne. "This is Paul, and this is the place they perform a lot, the Cavern Club. It's in Liverpool."
"Hmmm...if they all look like that, I'm going to England!" she remarked. She had to pry more, of course. "So, did you get to see him after that trip to Liverpool?" she asked as she looked through more pictures.
"Yep, I went up for a few days to see him before I left for the States. It was a great few days, for the most part. We had a little, um, misunderstanding, I guess, but it was, um, cleared up before I left." I got a big goofy smile recalling the events leading up to that misunderstanding. I felt my face getting hot and looked down to avoid eye contact with Anne. She could read me better than anyone, and I knew that if she saw my face, she'd know something was up.
Anne looked up at me and suddenly her eyes popped out of her head, her mouth grew wide, and she dropped the stack of pictures she was holding. "You didn't! Jill, you didn't! Did you?" Her eyes were sparkling with anticipation.
I looked up and nodded, turning approximately 73 shades of red, and then burst out giggling, which caused me to fall into a nervous fit of laughter. Anne screamed and leaned in to hug me. "Jill, I can't believe it. My little Jill finally took the plunge! Literally!!!" We were rolling on the floor by that time. She calmed down and continued. "So, how was it, how was he, what did you think of the whole experience?!"
"Sorry, I don't kiss and tell." I slyly smiled.
Anne glared at me. "Honey, I think you know that it's a little more than just kissing! Now that I can talk to you about this stuff--c'mon, spill it!"
So I spilled. I told her about going up to see him, and Paul scheming to get Brian out of the house all night. I told her about our conversation under the stars when I'd said I wanted everything to be "perfect" when the time came. I told her about taking her advice to cut loose, and what followed. I told her about the dinner, the storm, his attempt to give me my "perfect evening", the misunderstanding, and how he came to London to fix what had happened. I still had the card from the flowers, and showed her that. I also told her about the song he wrote.
Anne told me all about her summer. She brought out her pictures from her summer and their new house, and of course Dave. They promised to write and call each other at least once a week. When she wondered aloud how she'd manage, I said, "Consider yourself lucky. Paul & I are six time zones apart, and neither of us can afford to call that often, if ever. I don't even know when I will see him again. Maybe at Christmas, but we only have three weeks off, and my family was counting on spending time with me then, and I know he wouldn't be able to get over here that time of the year. I'm sure they will have gigs left and right. They're supposed to go back to the recording studio soon, actually I think it's in a couple days."
Anne giggled. "Ah, the trials and tribulations of dating a rock star!"
"Anne, how can I call it 'dating' when heaven knows when I will see him next? I mean, he asked me to be his girl, but he's so far away. How will letters and an occasional phone call fill that void?"
Speaking of letters, Paul wrote me one first:
5 September 1962
I apologize outright for my handwriting in this letter. I'm writing to you in a van on the ride back home from London. Yesterday was our first real recording session. I think it went pretty well, but I don't have anything in my past to compare it to, so I guess it's just my opinion! We recorded "Love Me Do" and this awful Tin Pan Alley song, "How Do You Do It" that George Martin insisted we do. It's an okay song, but it's just not us. We re-arranged it, but it's still not the same. I hope he lets us release "Love Me Do" as a single. I'll be sure to send you a copy. I don't know when or if we'll be able to record your song, as you heard it's really not in the finished stages quite yet. Give me some inspiration, luv!
It's been pretty lonely here without you. I hang out with the guys all the time, but it's just not the same. When I see John & Cyn together, I get a bit sad. She's showing a little now, I think her baby's coming in April. They send their love, and so do Brian, George and Ringo. And you know that I do, too! My dad keeps asking about you, I think he took quite a liking to you. I hope that maybe we won't be too busy over the December holidays, maybe you could come out here? If you need me to, I could arrange to pay for your ticket. I know you'd have to clear these kinds of things with your family first. I really miss you Jill. Please write back soon.
Of course, Anne saw the letter on my dresser and had to read it--she's so nosy! I would have let her read it anyway, but that's not the point. She had to look over my shoulder as I wrote Paul back:
13 September 1962
I hope this letter finds you well. Have you heard when your first single will be released? PLEASE send me a copy! Heck, get it released in America--I'm sure it would be Number One! We're really digging into the semester here. I am taking voice lessons, a Medieval-Renaissance music class, a creative writing course, a psychology course, tap dancing, and a literature course where we read mysteries, and I'm in the University Choir and I sing a bit with the Jazz Ensemble. On top of that, I have my full RA schedule. Aren't you jealous--I get to keep about 20 college girls in line! Pretty full, but not too bad for senior year.
I auditioned for the homecoming musical Good News. I got one of the leads--my character is Babe O'Day (the campus floozy). Anne says it's typecasting--don't worry, she's only kidding! (She says hello, by the way.) Babe even gets to lead a small chorus singing "Beautiful Dreamer." It's funny, we both do the same songs now! I know you guys have sung it before, maybe soon I will get to hear your rendition! We're getting into rehearsals now, the show should be fun. It's from the 1920's, and takes place in a college--fitting, I guess! The performances are at the end of October, so we don't have that much time.
Everyone sees the pictures I have from England and asks about all the cute guys I met over there that they see in the pictures. Seems American girls are just as fascinated with male Brits as you are with them! I'm sure you'd be a hit with the ladies if you came over...especially me! I really hope you can sometime. My spring break is sometime in March, I hope you might be free to come over then. Anne's dying to meet you!
It's lonely over here, too. Anne's in the same boat, with Dave up at University of Wisconsin, but at least they're in the same time zone! We spend some nights listening to records, laughing at inside jokes, or watching the television that Anne got as a present from her father for her birthday in August. Of course, we do homework once in a while! Anne's thinking of heading up to UW for graduate school just so she can be near Dave. I still have no idea what I want to do. Any Liverpool area jazz bands looking for a vocalist?
I need to go now, or I'll be late for choir!
'Til next time,
My birthday was coming up, and Anne had been quite secretive about what was going on. On my birthday (October 15th, a Monday), I came straight back to my room from my voice lesson. My psychology class was cancelled--the professor was sick, but I was glad; I was supposed to do a presentation on conditioned taste aversion that frankly, I was fully prepared to just bullshit my way through. I ran up the stairs and into the room. Anne was waiting there decorating the room. She was a bit surprised that I was home that early. She pouted and jumped off the chair she was standing on in the middle of the room and almost brought all the pink and white streamers down with her. "Dammit! Why are you here already?! I thought you had your psych class."
"Well, the prof's sick, so it was cancelled. Should I leave and come back again and act surprised?" I asked jokingly.
"No. But thanks for the thought," she said sarcastically. "Well, since the surprise is ruined, Happy 20th Birthday, babe." She opened her closet and handed me a wrapped box with a huge pink bow on it. I know it's considered 'girly', but my favorite color is pink. I hugged her and opened it. It was a framed poem. The poem was written in calligraphy on parchment, and there were a couple pressed flowers on the side of it in the dark wooden frame. The poem read:
After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and claiming a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaving and company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
You learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's grounds are too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. You learn that you really can endure...that you really are strong and you really do have worth. And you learn and you learn, with every goodbye you learn.
The words blurred as I got to the bottom of the page. Anne explained, "My older sister Beth found this poem years ago in some poetry anthology and wrote it down. She gave it to me when I turned 18 and I had just stuck in a notebook. I don't even know who wrote it. I found it again this summer, and decided to get this done up for you. Do you like it?"
I nodded quietly, trying to hide my teary eyes. We hugged each other tightly. You couldn't beat the bond between Anne & me. We were stuck together freshman year as random roommates, and really hit it off. She was a year older than I was. Since I had skipped first grade, most everyone in my class was a year older than I was. We became fast friends, and had helped each other through numerous heartaches and homework-aches. Anne was thinking about moving off-campus for this last year, but didn't want to leave me alone--I really couldn't afford to move into an apartment, and besides, I liked having my meals cooked for me even if it wasn't gourmet fare!
After lunch that day in the commons (where my friends got me a cupcake, put a candle on it, and huddled around it while they sang "Happy Birthday"), I got a notice in my mailbox that there was a package for me at the desk. As the girl at the desk retrieved it she looked at the package and said, "Hmm, Air Mail--you got a boyfriend in the service?" She handed it to me, and sure enough it was from Liverpool, England!
My heart skipped a beat and I said, "Something like that," and took the package from her. I couldn't even wait to get upstairs to open it. I borrowed the scissors from the desk and tore open the box. Inside was an envelope and a nicely wrapped present.
Anne tugged on my arm and said, "Now, this might be something private, why don't we go upstairs to open it?"
We ran up to our room, and I ripped open the present first. I gasped loudly; I couldn't believe my eyes--there were the Beatles on an actual record, and each of them personally signed the sleeve for me! It was a 45 of "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". The note simply said,
This was released 5 October. I think you'll like the "B" side of this one. --Paul
I immediately put it on the record player. I was crying tears of joy. I was so excited for them that they finally had a single out. I had heard both songs before, but now that written correspondence was pretty much our only avenue of conversation, "P.S. I Love You" made me bawl like a baby. As I was wiping my tears of loneliness away, I heard my name being called as someone was running down the hall.
"JILL DEARBORN! PHONE CALL! I THINK IT'S YOUR BRITISH BOYFRIEND! JILL DEARBORN!!!" Susan Witter got to my door, breathless. "Wow, I could listen to him talk for days! Oh, by the way, happy birthday. I love his voice!"
I said, "Well, so do I! C'mon in and listen to what he sent me!" Anne played her their first single as I ran to the phone. "Paul?"
All four Beatles sang "Happy Birthday" to me over the phone. When they were finished serenading me, I thanked them. "You guys have impeccable timing, I was just listening to your first single! I'm so proud of you guys. It's great! It's 'fab'!" I giggled. "Anne's playing it for a friend on our floor right now. Soon you'll have a little following in central Illinois!"
The other three rang off, leaving me to talk to Paul. I started, "Thank you for the song on side two, I love it."
"Well, you know that I wrote it before we met, but I think it's quite appropriate for us, don't you think?"
"Uh-huh! Do you guys have a gig tonight?"
"Yes, we do. We're going to go on in a couple hours. We're calling from Brian's house right now actually. And he says hello, too." He sighed. "You know, Jill, I don't think I realized how much I missed you 'til just now. Hearing your voice...I miss our long talks. Walking with you. Holding your hand. Kissing you. Just being with you! I can't wait to see you again. Please say you can come over here sometime."
I was in shock. He really did want me over there! I wanted to blurt out that I'd be waiting for him wherever and whenever he asked, but I knew that couldn't be true. "Um, I really don't know, Paul. I will probably be spending it with my family. My grandparents are coming in from Arizona over Christmas, and I haven't seen them since I was 16. I hope you understand. Maybe over my spring break--we have a full week break coming up in March."
"Well. We're going back to Hamburg in early November and again in late December, so the holidays are out of the question anyway. Brian has promised us a vacation sometime in the spring; maybe I can convince him to make it the same time as your spring break from college! And if they're different times, maybe I'll just come and see you over there. I've never been to the States, it might be a nice trip. Of course it would--I'd be coming to see you! We can discuss that later, I am running up Brian's phone bill, so I will have to ring off, luv. Have a good show, break a leg and all that...I wish I could come & see you. Until next time?"
"'Til next time, luv! Have a great show tonight!"
"Thanks, maybe we'll do a song for you, maybe your "B" side there!"
"Sounds good, I'll write you soon."
I got back to my room and Susan and Anne were still sitting there listening to the single. Susan piped up, "This isn't half bad! I can't recall any really big British groups over here, it's usually just all American groups singing. Are they going to have an album out?"
"I don't know, they just released this single in the UK. As far as I know, this is the only copy over here, besides one maybe sent to George's sister in southern Illinois." I pointed out which one was George on the sleeve, and continued. "I'm in pretty good with their manager, so I'm sure he'll let me know if and when things get released here and in the UK."
Later that day, I got a call from Auntie. She & Rog sang "Happy Birthday", and then Auntie told me some very good news. "Guess what, babe? I know that you have rehearsal and you'll have to go soon, but this will be quick."
"Yeah, dress rehearsal on my birthday. I hate to think what they're going to do to me!"
"Oh, it won't be too bad, and besides, you love the attention."
"Hey, speaking of attention, Paul sent me their first single--have you heard it? You'd better have gotten some for the store."
"Are you kidding? I ordered one thousand copies, and I've already sold quite a few. They're getting a lot busier, gigs just about every night. They're really doing well. More people down here are asking for the record. Paul tries to stop in the store whenever they're in town, just to say hello. I'm trying to get them to do a record signing here at the store. It will help get them publicity, and I'll get some more business! And let me tell you, Jilly, I don't know how I got on here without you! Interested in coming over after graduation?"
I laughed. "Well, if nothing else comes up," I joked.
Auntie replied, "No, I'm serious. If you need a job after graduation, you're more than welcome. I can make you an assistant manager, maybe you could even take over the place after I get sick of it!"
Wow, I thought. Living in England, permanently? Now that would be cool. Sure, I had thought about it before, but that was just a pipe dream. I never thought it might even be a remote possibility. But I knew I couldn't give her an answer right then. "Um, I'll think about it when the time comes. There's a lot I have to consider, but thanks." I rang off.
Paul & kept corresponding over the next months. In January, he sent me an autographed copy of their next single, "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why". "Please Please Me" ended up being their first #1 song in England. Brian sent me a telegram! I was so happy for the guys. All the girls on my floor really liked "Please Please Me". Right after it got to number one in the UK, Brian sent me another telegram, letting me know that it was available for purchase in the States under the small VeeJay label, and told me to go to my local record shop and ask for it, and if I got enough people to ask for it, we could get it going nicely in the States. Once the Please Please Me album was released, again I got an autographed copy from the guys. Actually, they sent about 10 copies of the album so I could pass it out to my friends!
My parents began to wonder what I was going to be doing with my music degree. Dad said once, "If you don't go into music, you've wasted four years and we've wasted $8,000!" Actually, everyone over the age of 30 wanted to know what I was doing after college. I didn't want to teach, and I knew that a professional performing career was very hard to come by. I had long heart-to-heart talks with Anne, and after that combined with many letters to Auntie, I decided to take a year off before grad school and go to England. There were a few theatre groups who were looking for administrative positions, and at least I could do stock theatre work there. If none of those ideas worked out, Auntie had offered the job at MC's, too, but I seriously wondered if I would enjoy selling records for the rest of my life.
I hadn't told Paul yet that I would be over in England after graduation, I wasn't sure if he would think that I was stalking him or something. I didn't want to come on too strong. The months we had been corresponding were admittedly lonely, but I still didn't know how he felt right then. He never mentioned any dates or a steady girlfriend in his letters, but I was sure that being a rock & roll star, he wasn't lacking in offers. Me, on the other hand, I was comparing every guy I met to Paul. Not that there were many--I only went out on a couple dates with a couple guys. Sure, they were cute or smart or could carry on an intelligent conversation, but none had everything I wanted in a mate, at least at that point in my life. None of them were Paul. But I couldn't tell him that. He had been so busy with his blossoming musical career, I had gotten only about a letter a month. Brian kept sending me newspaper clippings about them, and Auntie kept in touch with me on how the record store was selling their album and singles.
On to Chapter Ten
Back to Chapter Eight
Copyright © 1999-2005, Winona Patterson.