She was a flourishing young British woman, he was a patriotic American Air Force man, deployed to England in the 1950s to fight the raging Cold War. She had heard of the War Brides of World War II, swept off their feet by charming American servicemen with promises of wealth and happiness. But she didn’t care to marry for money, she wanted love. She never imagined herself falling for a “Yank,” let alone leaving her cherished home country to stay with him. Yet soon enough, hearts entangled, she found herself passionately promising, “I do.”
She had never been far from home, never gone a day without seeing her mother and father. Yet here she was at London International Airport, seated on a plane, waving goodbye. She anxiously stared out the window, watching as her parents became indistinguishable dots in the sea of the city. Emotions raced through her body as she soaked in the reality of the moment, an indescribable mix of fear and adrenaline. She squeezed her eyes shut, hoping to wake up from this strange, surreal dream. And when she opened her eyes and peered out the window, her home country twinkled like faraway stars in the night sky, bright and beautiful. A wave of calmness settled in, muscles relaxed. There is light in the darkness.
City turned to skyline as the rickety old truck traversed down the long, empty road in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gradually, lush, green farmland blanketed the ground for as far as the eye could see. Row after row of bright yellow corn stalks stood tall in the thick fields. Hungry cattle roamed aimlessly in the distance and whiffs of fresh manure soured the air. Finally, they turned onto a long, narrow lane with only two tiny houses in sight. “Welcome to our new home,” her husband announced, grinning with pride yet nervously observing her reaction. Her expression drooped, curious wide eyes replaced by utter shock. She stepped out of the truck and cautiously surveyed the surroundings. A loud hammer rhythmically pounded nearby, grey dust whirled through the air. She turned to the right to see a massive stone quarry. To the left was an expansive, fertile farm, the tiny house seeming miles away. They were surrounded by emptiness. Road led to grass, no sidewalk to explore, no neighbors to meet. They hadn’t passed a store in at least thirty minutes. She thought back to London, to the bustling city connected by trains and trolleys, welcoming friends around every corner, abundant shops on every street. Smells of burning petrol and sweet, buttery baked goods. This felt nothing like home. Sensing her unease, her husband leaned over and squeezed her hand. Her brow unfurrowed, a small smile spread across her face.
She looked up at the house, a weathered green, square structure, two-stories high, and gently stepped inside. Dark wooden floors creaked under her feet. Her husband carried her heavy luggage and showed her around, but then had to hurry to work. She was left alone in an unfamiliar home in an unfamiliar country. With no phone and no friend nearby, she felt lonely and unsettled, but before long, the sheer exhaustion of the day smacked her like a wave. She found their bedroom and laid down on the soft mattress, wrapping herself in the warm cotton sheets.
Soon, night settled in. The darkness overwhelmed her, slowly creeping through the house, engulfing the world around her. She was terrified. Eyes watering and heart pounding, she began to doubt her decision to leave home. She missed the comfort and familiarity. But then, just as she reached down to the little hump of life growing inside her, a light appeared through the crack in the door and her husband stepped inside. Once again, her lips curved up in a smile. This is my family, she thought. I am going to start a life here. There is light in the darkness.
Caryl-Sue. "Yankee." National Geographic, edited by Jeannie Evers. National Geographic
Society, 19 Nov. 2012, www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/yankee/#:~:text=No%20one%20is%20really%20sure,word%20eankke%2C%20which%20means%20coward. Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.
Goodman, G. (2008). 'Only the Best British Brides': Regulating the Relationship between US
Servicemen and British Women in the Early Cold War. Contemporary European History,
17(4), 483-503. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40542576