22 July 1956
This will be the last letter from Europe, & possibly the last one until I get home. Tomorrow we arrive in Gibraltar, eight months & eight days since we first saw it. There the last mail will leave the ship.
In a way, it is almost impossible to think of going home. Just think—to be able to go anywhere & understand all that is around you, & be understood (to a greater or lesser degree) by everyone. It seems we have been away from America for eight years rather than eight months.
I have gone over my arrival home a countless number of times in my mind; all of it is, of course, glorified & will not be at all like that in reality. Still, it will be fun.
As for the presents—my all too few acquisitions in Europe—I plan to send you into the kitchen while I spread them all over the living room. Then you can come in & see them all at once. Unfortunately there are not nearly so many as I should have liked, but you will understand. If only we could have a Christmas tree!!
Last night I wrote a letter to Marc & Michel (in English) & one to Michel entirely in French, which is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself. It was done with a French-English dictionary, and I only hope Michel can understand it.
One night in Cannes, Marc asked us what we ate on our ship. When we told him, he seemed duly impressed, & then asked what we drank. Both he & Michel were astonished that we didn’t drink wine. When we told them no alcoholic beverages at all were allowed on board, they seemed downright disappointed—especially Michel, who drinks wine as if he were a fish in water. And when I told them about Prohibition in the States, I think they didn’t believe me.
The three major physical differences between America & Europe are: 1) Europe—or what I’ve seen of it.—has very few rivers—lot of river beds & streams, but none even the size of the Rock, not even the Seine. Secondly, the absence of green grass—it is almost nonexistent. Third is the absence of wooden buildings; only in Turkey did I see a wooden house.
Well, the day after tomorrow will be my last day in Europe. I hope, through my letters (infrequent as they may be) that you’ve gotten some idea of what Europe is like. When I return, with you, I hope, I shall have studied much more language, so that I wont seem quite so lost. As soon as I get home, let’s start a travel fund of quarters & half dollars--& every three or four years, we can take a nice long trip—to Europe, to Hawaii (first), & anyplace else we want to go. ($10 a week for three years is $1560.00)
Meanwhile, time is happily flying….
Today was quite busy, considering that I didn’t do anything of importance—went to the movie this afternoon, read a book (The Haploids), & wrote this letter. Had a wonderful sleep last night, & got up this morning around 0900.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to go ashore for some last-minute buying—mainly some good snuff for Grandpa if I can find any.
For the past few weeks I’ve been living completely in the future, dragging the present along behind me like a little red wagon.
No mail now for a God-awful time. I certainly hope there is some waiting for us in Gibraltar. How are you both? Fine, I hope.
Well, since I am now reduced to basic cordialities (the next question in line being: "How’s the weather up there?") I think it best .to close. If you hear nothing more from me for ten days, don’t worry—I’ll be at sea on my way home.
P.S. In fact, at the moment you are reading this, I am somewhere in the Atlantic, bound for the New World & untold adventures….