Dutch. His mother named him after an opera singer popular at the time. He liked my spunk, and brunettes have a certain appeal in predominantly blond cultures, thank goodness. Tino captured my heart while showing me the sights: impromptu trips out of the country; fascinating glimpses into European history; plus he spoke four languages.
"How would you like to go to Paris after work? Didier (from the Paris office) is having a party tonight."
Seriously? Somebody pinch me! I felt like Audrey Hepburn. Paris was only a 4-hour drive; far less with Tino at the wheel of his Renault. The spontaneity was wonderful, until he popped the trunk outside of Didier's.
"What's that?" I was horrified. "You brought an overnight bag?"
No, not so much as a toothbrush in my over-sized purse. I didn't realize we were spending the night rather than driving home drunk; which I'd done more than once, I'm ashamed to admit. I suddenly felt 10-years old; nothing at all like the sophisticated world-traveler I'd hoped.
I reached out to a Realtor specializing in apartments, found in the Yellow Pages I'd ordered in advance. We raced the Mayflower van towards Oregon until it was held up by snow in Nebraska; which we took as a good sign, for we were able to locate and sign a lease for a second floor, two bedroom in Clackamas by the time the driver arrived.
Life was good and we loved Portland. I picked up temp jobs and Tino was learning the new computer-aided design (CAD) system at a community college while we planned our design business. We married in City Hall in July, and three months later the immigration attorney was finalizing Tino’s paperwork. Things couldn't be better. We were in-like and in-love, and optimistic about our future together.
On October 12th, 1994 Tino wasn't at the bus terminal to pick me up as usual. I found a phone booth but there was no answer at home. My heart was pounding as I located the bus to take me the rest of the way, and I concentrated on possible explanations during the interminable ride home.
I went from working full to part-time and eventually not at all. I lived off my savings. Nothing interested me except the crazy quilt I'd begun portraying our brief life together: my own buffalo hide. I'd wake up and begin to work on individual vignettes, meticulously hand-stitched and embellished with embroidery, coins, pins, charms and other mementos. Happy Hour and the O.J. Simpson trial began around 10am, and I'd sew, drink and listen until I passed out. I was marking time, hoping to die like those couples who die shortly within one another; from broken hearts, I'd always fantasized.
My sister saved my life by reacting promptly to the good-bye phone message I'd left at her office (a subconscious last-ditch cry for help). I'd expected to be dead by the time she heard it, but I botched that, too. Hillary notified the local police who found me just in time, and she and Mom immediately flew out; but fearing my unfinished quilt contributed to my depression, shipped it back east before I returned from the hospital.
It wasn't until 2014 that I unpacked and finished Memories of Tino to enter it in a quilt festival in Portland, which seemed poetic justice. I left the quilt top as uneven as when Hillary mailed it to Mom's; and simply mounted it to a heavier fabric. The quilt weighs 13 pounds. As I embroidered the edge with arthritic hands I was amazed and grateful I'd created such an outstanding tribute when I was younger, for I certainly couldn't have accomplished it now.
Note: This chapter was originally written as Chapter 2, but to improve the continuity of the storyline I have kept it apart to be more of an Epilogue, sorry for any confusion.
Return to the story: A Rough Start or choose a chapter from the list on the right.