It was the summer of 1991 and I had just returned from a year long missionary stint in China. I took myself and my shiny new English degree to Nanchang, China to teach English at a traditional Chinese medical school, where I also lived. Nanchang is the home of Chairman Mao and was the beginning of the Communist uprising. I was part of a small group of Americans were the first to be allowed to teach in this relatively small Chinese city of 2.5 million people. This was also a couple of months after the Communist crackdown in Beijing where over a million pro-Democracy demonstrators were murdered. I have great timing like that. But that is another adventurous story.
A friend from CMU gave me a tip about a music teacher that was needed in Yuma, Arizona. Since Kim and I could not get jobs on the same side of the state and we were getting married in October, I called the middle school. After a short interview with the principal who enthusiastically gave me the job over the phone, I bravely asked if there were any opening for my fianceé. Before we knew it, we packed our few belongings that only filled half of the smallest U-Haul and drove across the country to new jobs, new lives, and new careers: Kim as a fifth grade teacher and me as a middle school choir director.
Although we now lived on the border of Mexico, we had planned our wedding in Michigan through old-fashioned letter writing while I lived in China. Yes, the internet hadn’t really caught on yet. After school on Friday, we flew back to Michigan on the 25th of October, had the rehearsal dinner on the 26th, were married on Sunday the 27th of October, spent one night at the Amway Grand Hotel, flew all night on the 28th and taught that Monday, the 29th. The things you can accomplish when you’re young, energetic, and in L-O-V-E!