Each of Hope’s pen-pals from the US came from a different city and from a different walk of life. It was fun to get their letters and to hear about the culture from which they came. Hope was always eager to write back in response and she shared much about her life, as well. Slowly, the number of pen-pals dwindled, which was perfectly fine as she had already picked her favorites. (Hope never disclosed their actual names to me. Thus I will refer to them by their state.)
Hope was particularly fond of California and after a few months, he wrote to say he was coming to Indonesia to meet her face to face. Her excitement was short-lived though, when she discovered she wasn’t the only stop on his itinerary. No, he made plans to see several woman in different cities in Indonesia and that is exactly what he did.
In early 1989, Kansas, another of Hope’s favorites, invited her to join him on the west coast for a 2 week vacation. She knew it was risky; after all, she could again discover less than desirable intentions and be hurt. She talked the weighty decision over with her boss and at his urging, she agreed to accept Kansas’ invitation.
As silly as it sounds, Hope’s eyes were still afire today as she told me about flying into Los Angeles and over the 2 week period seeing the Grand Canyon, the San Diego Zoo, Pasadena, Disney Land, and Knott’s Berry Farm. Fortunately, Kansas was honorable and showed no signs of breaking her heart, like California.
In April of that same year, another pal/suitor, Georgia, came to Indonesia to meet Hope. She had to work during much of his 2 week visit, so her sister-in-law graciously hosted Georgia during the day, to show him the city. The two weeks passed quickly, and Hope was sad to see Georgia go.
A few months later, Kansas sent Hope an invitation to visit the states for a 2nd time. This time, they met in San Francisco for a few days. Then he flew her to his home in Kansas to visit his family. During her time there, Kansas surprised Hope with a very kind gift, an airline ticket to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She would be traveling alone to visit her cousin that had moved to the US from Indonesia. Hope excitedly phoned her cousin and they made plans.
When Kansas dropped Hope off at the airport, they said their good-byes. While she was eager to see her cousin in Baton Rouge, another risky idea was brewing in her mind. Hope nervously made her way to the ticket counter and in her broken English, bought a ticket to Atlanta. You see, Hope’s heart was in Georgia. Mr. Georgia was in Georgia. This beautiful woman was totally out of her element but decided she could go to Georgia, then fly back to Baton Rouge for a day. No one else had to know, right? In her mind, the plan worked flawlessly, but she didn’t have any idea what she was headed into.
Hope flew to Atlanta and straight into the arms of Georgia for 2 lovely, life-changing days. Before Hope left, he proposed and with tears in her eyes and the happiest heart, she said yes. Hope got back on the plane, this time to Baton Rouge for a very short trip to see her cousin. She really needed that time to clear her head as she sorted out what had transpired in Atlanta and how she would explain to her cousin and more importantly, Kansas, the engagement ring that now adorned her left hand.
When Hope’s flight landed in Kansas, he was waiting for her at the gate. He was happy to see her but she wasted no time in telling him about her diversion to Atlanta and showed him the ring. All she could hope was that the graciousness he had shown her was genuine and that he would allow her to retrieve her belongings from his house and help her get back to the airport to fly home. Kansas was disappointed at his loss, but he was indeed a gracious gentleman.
Here you might say, “What an awful thing to do to Kansas!” On the surface, yes. But have you never been in love? Hope only set out to learn English. Instead she took a crazy risk and found love and it’s for that reason that I admire this beautiful Indonesian woman.
Hope is still married to Georgia and they have one son.