JAVIER (based on a true story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Do you miss your first love?

It’s December 21, Sunday of 1980.  She was willing to invite me to their private English lessons.  Being a class president and ranked 1st in our class, I was popular among classmates. 

I suspected that she wanted to be close to me, even build a friendship with me.  During one of casual chats, I showed my aspiration to improve my English. Without losing that chance, she offered this opportunity.

 

In Okinawa, there were many US military bases including the Far East Network (FEN), American military radio and television stations, primary serving U.S. Forces in Japan, Philippines and Guam. [1]

I didn’t know that several girls living near that station were having regular English lessons provided by one army soldier working as an engineer.

I was quite nervous to meet a foreigner in person.  Those days, life was still primitive without much exposure to the world, not much interaction with people outside of your home country.

 

He looked like a Latino from his name, Javier Torres and his look.  He had fair skin with dark hair and dark brown eyes. 

While I was struggling with my broken poor English and the awkwardness due to being with a foreign soldier alone, the other girls were hanging around inside the station and didn’t bother to join me.

 

On first day, he gave me a piece of paper with time slots for next 7 days.  They were mostly two hours in the afternoon. 

Heard that he was going back to the U.S. at the end of December, so he somehow promised to the arranger girl to dedicate his final days for helping this Asian student’s English, his native tongue.

 

Girls didn’t care or show interest in joining me, so ended up it became solitary private lessons all by myself.  As days went by, I became courageous and was not shy in making wrong pronunciation with incorrect grammars. 

Hopefully, he figured that I was a smart girl and an interesting student, so he was motivated.  Didn’t ask my classmate what had been discussed/agreed with Javier.  I did enjoy one-week classes with him, and I didn’t skip any single day!


From third day, I saw his successor, a young African American soldier named Huey Williams.  Sometimes, he also joined the funny private lessons, mostly chatting about life here in Okinawa, my school days and homework. 

On last day, he brought his photo album and showed me the pictures taken with those girls.  Felt jealous as he would take those pictures with the memories here and he would remember them.  Nothing for me.  Unfortunately, my English was not good enough to express this feeling.

Now, it’s time to say goodbye.  Suddenly, he asked my address and said that he would write to me.  Wow, I have never expected it though pen pal thing was quite popular those days.

I gave the address of my father’s shop.  He was running the biggest shoe shop in town, which was on the main street and all the letters were mailed to my father’s shop. 

Somehow, I had a kind of feeling of liking him as a young girl but didn’t know what to say.  “Goodbye and please write to me.”  It was my last word to him.  And I ran away from the station.  Did he also say goodbye to me?  I don’t know.  I didn’t hear or didn’t remember anything at all.

 

In one of days in February 1981, my father handed me a letter from overseas.  It was from HIM.

“My Dear Miss ****,

I hope you have not forgotten me.  If you have, then permit me to refresh your memory.  I was your English instructor for about a week over at the radio station. Well I said and promised you that I would write and so here is one of many that I tend to write……” 
And he was writing about Tucson, Arizona where he was stationed.

I was extremely happy to receive his letter as I really really hoped that he would remember me but didn’t expect that he would write to me.

I responded right away, and he wrote me back, and I wrote back again.  After that, no more.  I was waiting and waiting but nothing happened.  And I didn't know what to do except for just waiting and being disappointed and sad. 

 

One day, I stopped by the radio station with same classmate to meet Mr. Williams.  She wanted to go there and insisted my company.  I told him that I was disappointed and felt sad as he stopped writing to me.

With my big surprise, I got a letter from him in July 1982, exactly after 15 months from his last letter.

“….Recently I met with SP5 Williams and he told me that the reason for your having stop writing was that you said that I had.  But after your last letter I had mailed a total six more letters.  Perhaps it may have been relatives who may have disapproved of our communicating.  But I do hope that we may reestablish that unique friendship that Pen Pals usually have……”

I wrote back but again no response from him. 

 

My father was quite an old-fashioned and conventional old man.  Being the youngest child and only daughter, I was a princess to him. 

I was at 12th grade to prepare for a college entrance exam.  Of course, I was a top student, hoping for Tokyo University, the most prestigious university in Japan. 

I dared not to ask my father about possible missing letters.  He passed away more than 20 years ago, and I never had a chance to ask.

 

I graduated from Tokyo University, got a job at the biggest U.S. bank, and even became the youngest VP in corporate banking division. 

Sometimes, I think about him.  I am pretty sure he would be proud of me and we could build a very good friendship.  And very often, I think my feeling on him was a love, first love for this 15-year-old girl.

 

My mom died two years ago, and I had to get my old stuff from her house.  I found his three letters and saw his full name in the envelope.  With plenty of curiosities and also with a little bit of hope, I googled his name.

With my big surprise but with bigger distressing sorrow and despair, there was ONE match. 

 

Obituary

“Retired: U.S. Army - Javier M. Mejias Torres, 54 died  Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Downtown Division…. Mr. Torres was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico….He retired after serving 20 years in the US Army.”

 

How I wish that I could meet him again.  Somehow, I never lose a hope that I may have a chance to see him as long as we live in this earth. 

It became impossible.  I felt devastated with feelings of loss even though our crossing paths were extremely brief in this world.

 

I met him in December, and he left this world in December.  It became the saddest month to me.  I remember him by recollecting those never-enough precious memories when it comes at the end of each year. 

 

And I will continue to do the same till I see him, hopefully, in the next world?  I do believe life is changed, not ended.

 


https://www.dreamstime.com/us-army-staff-sergeant-rank-patch-branch-tape-flag-patch-dog-tags-woodland-camouflage-unif-us-army-staff-sergeant-rank-image112425680 - front cover
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_East_Network


Submitted: March 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Jator. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

SM Aura Aura

Nice piece of work... this is really touching story of you, me and everyone who had the same feelings in our earlier days... like to recommend this to others.

Mon, March 8th, 2021 3:44am

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comments. Yes, a sad story, indeed. Glad that you enjoyed it.

Sun, March 7th, 2021 8:06pm

Hyunbi

Again, you created a great story reminiscent of the old good days. Life is too short to say everything we want to. Want to live in Ce La Vi..

Mon, March 8th, 2021 11:39am

Author
Reply

Thanks Hyunbi. Agree. Life is too short to be angry or resentful. Carpe diem

Mon, March 8th, 2021 3:44am

mhchoi

Thanks, Jator, for sharing this heartwarming story!! It reminds me of the high school days.

Mon, March 8th, 2021 12:14pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comments. Yes, we all miss those days at school.

Mon, March 8th, 2021 4:16am

Tcamp

Incredible story! I had an understanding of the US army presence in east asia, but not the extent of the relationship between the locals and the soldiers stationed there. It left me wanting to know more and I eventually spent looking up for more information on google haha. Appreciate the great piece Jator and keep up the great work!

Fri, March 12th, 2021 12:23am

Author
Reply

Thank Tcamp for the feedback. Can you imagine those days without email, SNS and smartphone to connect, nothing but handwritten letters. Nostalgic and romantic in a way.

Thu, March 11th, 2021 6:55pm

readingisfun18

Good short read and reminiscent of younger days when nothing is impossible. Intriguing how a short episode in youth can leave a lasting impression in life! Good one, Jator!

Sat, March 20th, 2021 5:43am

Author
Reply

Thanks for the feedback. Some memories are unforgettable. "Deep as first love, and wild with all regret' as Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem.

Sat, March 20th, 2021 2:25am

Ezra Enzo

Gorgeous and heart-breaking experience/story Jator. It really feels submersive to explore the relations and humanity of other people, and your work is touching. Great work and I really hope to hear from you again. - E.E

Tue, April 13th, 2021 3:08pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment E.E. Quite sad story indeed. Keep thinking 'what if' Guess it's a life and we have to deal with it.

Wed, April 14th, 2021 12:28am

Excellent Theophilus

Well done! This is quite touching. Keep it up.

Tue, April 13th, 2021 3:53pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed it.

Wed, April 14th, 2021 12:29am

Sumit Kumar Arora

Nice and unique
story.

Fri, May 7th, 2021 9:38am

Author
Reply

Thanks for your comment.

Fri, May 7th, 2021 5:06am

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