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How did you know?
M: We're just really compatible. It's a good life. It's exciting.
D: I'm a believer in chemistry. I think we just chemically attract one another.
M: We really had spent a lot of time together.
D: Mainly we liked travel. We weren't afraid of not having a ton of money and kind of traveling on the cheap and doing some interesting things. This was also at a time when these sorts of regulations and traditions were just sort of shrugged at by young folks like us. We were committed to each other for long before that, so this sort of legalization of it just seemed unnecessary to us. A lot of marriage is for legal purposes or tax purposes. There was no religious significance to it. There was no, "Gee, now we're really committed," sort of thing to it.
M: It didn't really change anything.
D: Except now the army would ship me along.
Were you guys excited to go to Germany, or did you resent that you had to go into the Army and Dad had to go along?
M: No, I think I was still thinking that the military was a good thing at that point. I was young. And I was excited about going to Europe. I didn't understand what I was getting into. It was an adventure. Originally, we were supposed to go to Panama, but that's when the United States started pulling out of Panama, so my spot was canceled. So I contacted my dad, who was a colonel. He was in Belgium then, and he found me a spot in Germany.
D: I was just doing my best to support the troops. I thought we got really lucky. If we'd been stationed at some butthole fort in the United States, it would have been really hard.
M: In Germany, you could blend in with the outside world. You could have another life.
D: And with the Panama thing, we were kind of looking forward to that. We were taking Spanish lessons. We were young and stupid, so we were like, "Okay, what the fuck, that sounds kind of interesting. Let's go see what that's all about." Then when that fell through, we did the scramble and it was fortunate we ended up going to Europe. For me, anyway, it was like, "I can do that, I know Europe." I immediately started thinking about finding a basketball team. I was absolutely unenthusiastic about anything military. But I figured, hell, you know, we're in Europe. I'll find something to do that will be cool. If she'd been sent to Fort Hood or whatever in the States, it would have been pretty shitty. For both of us.
M: In a way, I don't know if we would have gotten married if I'd had orders to some place here in the States.
D: Interesting. I don't know.
M: Because I thought we got married to ensure that you would be paid for. That you would be shipped over with me. If I hadn't been going abroad, I don't know that we would have gone through the formal ceremony. I think we did the formal ceremony to be legal.
D: I hadn't even thought about that. If we'd been Stateside, we could have just continued to cohabit, we could have lived off base, I could have got some sort of job in wherever we were.
Did any of the governmental, formal things like taxes and stuff matter?
M: We weren't thinking about that.
D: We didn't have enough money for that to make any difference. But Mom would have caught a lot of shit in the military for living with somebody. And certainly in military intelligence, they might have considered her compromised.
M: Because any sexual relationship is seen as being able to corrupt somebody who has secrets.
D: Actually, I'm ready to reveal now that I was a Soviet spy. But I decided to stay in zis country, iz nice, iz nice!
Did you ever get shit for being an Army husband?
D: Oh, God, yeah. On my ID card, there was the very rare marking "DH," which meant "Dependent Husband." I don't know if there were any others in the whole military. It was weird, and the troops I intermingled with didn't give a shit, but some of the officers could be real assholes about it. Especially the West Point guys. They all thought they were hot shit.
You guys spent a decade over in Europe, with Mom in the army in Germany and then in Oxford while Dad got a couple of literature degrees. Is there anything else that you wish you'd done during that time? Any regrets?
M: My brothers and sister were all buying houses, and at the time I lamented that we were getting behind, but I think we've caught up. I think we caught up a while ago. So no, I don't regret how we spent our time there.
D: I remember when I was getting close to graduating from college, my dad said to me that there are two times when you can do some crazy stuff: one is right after you graduate from college and before you get established, and the other is after you retire. After college, you're young, but you have no money, and after you retire you're not so young, but you have some money.
M: And we had no obligations, you know? We had a car. That was it. We didn't really own anything else.
D: We were just living on the cheap, moving around, and it was great.
Now that you're almost fully empty nesters, would you ever move back to Europe?
M: In a second.