Writing the other day about the scuba diving accident that my exhusband had got me to thinking about some very different women that I met while on the San Juan naval base in Puerto Rico. It is a very insular, almost closed environment and I got a brief insider’s view while waiting there. It made me realize how important our attitudes can be.
Â The first lady I met was the wife of the corpsman who was inside the recompresion chamber with my ex. She took me over to her home to spend the night. She was very supportive and when the phone rang early the next morning with the doctor calling she listened in, afraid, I think, that I was going to get some bad news. She was a very nice lady but she seemed full of fear to me, hated San Juan and wasn’t involved much in life there. She stayed home with her son and I think that was her life. Her first husband had died so maybe that added to some of her fear of life.
Â I can’t remember why anymore but the second night I had to go elsewhere. This time I ended up in a dorm for visiting naval officers. It was totally empty(except for some really huge cockroaches)Â until the next night when many men would decend upon the baseÂ and very basicÂ and because of said cockroachesÂ I was afraid to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. My roommate this night was another naval wife. She was married to an enlisted man. Her husband, he was her second husband, was in the hospital. She told me that he had been at a party drinking and lost his balance while sitting in an open window on the second story of a building and fell out. She was very religious, told me all about her children from another marriage and seemed happy to me but, the next day, a corpsman that I was talking to told me that they thought her husband didn’t accidentally fall out of the window but thatÂ it was a suicide attempt. I actually met her husband the day we were leaving-his injuries weren’t serious-and he seemed very young and nice. I’ve always worried about what happened to them.
Â I talked with several women in the navy, either nurses or officers and in the course of our conversations they told me they weren’t happy in the navy and that it was a man’s world. They didn’t expect and didn’t receive what they were told they would in the way of promotions. Most of the young men there, andÂ boy didÂ they seem young, spent every weekend drinking heavily-there was a toga party the night before my ex arrived-and it pretty much seemed like college life to me. I did meet one corpsman who told me that he didn’t go to those parties or drink because he was staying true to his wife. I think he was in the minority.
Â Finally, on the last night, I spent the night at the home of a naval officer and his wife. They had a beautiful home full of antiques and collectibles. The wife was especially interesting to me. Her father had dived with Jacques Cousteau and she had a couple of beautiful artifacts that they had found deep in the ocean. She herself was a diver and went several times a week to explore the water there. She went out exploring and was taking a lace making class from a native somewhere in San Juan. She made her life there an adventure and didn’t seem to have fear. There was such a difference between her and the first lady. The whole experience, of course, made a huge impression on me and I really did try after that to live more fully.
Â Of course, here I am nowÂ in Provence. Do I live that way, without fear and as an explorer of life? Not always. In fact, when we first moved here I was not a happy camper. I would have been happy to stay in Paris. We had a lot of problems with the house and money was tight, I was trying to startÂ my ownÂ business in Paris so I kept making trips back to Paris quite often. The inside of our house had to be completely painted and because Maurice seriously hurt his back, I had to do it all. So every time I returned to Provence I had work to do. I did alot of complaining. Finally, about two years or so after we had moved to Provence, we were on our way from the TGV station to our house and for the first timeÂ I wasn’t filled with dread or unhappiness and I started really seeing the beauty that we passed and wasn’t regretting being in Provence at all. It took a while and I had to change my attitude but I slowly started blooming. I love it here now.