在社交場合，每當人們知道我不會說日本話，我牽手不會說台灣話或中國語時，他們總會追問我「你們彼此用什麼話溝通」？在我輕易回答「英語」後，我立刻就可感受到對方有所不滿足。緊接者，就來這麼一個問句「你們在那裡認識的」？這問題我不介意回答，但我覺得有必要多加說明，因為我光回答說「洛杉磯（Los Angeles, CA）」，對方也不會滿意。說句實在話，我很少問他人夫婦怎麼認識的，因為我覺得那是私事。可是我的婚姻所引起的好奇遠勝過私事，好奇到讓我恨不得是個小說家，能夠把我們的相識歷程寫成一部小說，再不然就生動地描畫出那「千里一線牽」的景象。不過，我不會讓你失望，至少我是一個諮商心理學家，我會問我自己，從我的婚姻中，我能跟你分享些什麼？
那我怎麼認識我太太呢？說起來，完全是機緣。一九六七年，我已在UCLA攻讀博士。那年耶誕節前夕，我和幾位台灣留學生都接到Pacific Palisades一家教會的耶誕節聚會邀請，都去參加。在我進入會場前，就在樓下處，看到一位黑髮漂亮女生正往樓梯上爬，頓時就引起我的興趣。我緊跟爬上樓梯進入會場，故意選坐在她的旁邊。現在已記不得當晚我跟她說些什麼，只記得她是短期從日本來學英文的女生，現寄住Beverly Hill一猶太人家。聚餐後，我樂意送她回家。從該晚起，我就沒放過她。每到週末，我就約她出去玩，可說一拍即合。我開的是一部老舊福特公司出產的Falcon汽車〈圖一〉，她不嫌棄，我們就這麼玩遍洛杉磯景點〈圖二〉。她沒身份得要回日本，而我當時已有綠卡，也知道只要結婚，她就可跟我留下來。就這樣我速戰速決，一九六八年三月十六日，我們在Santa Monica 一家Unitarian教堂結婚了（圖三）。
我又得承認，我們的婚姻基礎很脆弱。我們相識的時間總共才只四個月，太短了。現在想起來，假如能重來一次，我當然樂意多結交一點時間。所以說，我的婚姻如同我父輩，是在結婚後才開始談戀愛。我們的婚姻是基於情不是基於理，是基於需要不是基於名利，是應呼情況不是事先安排。結婚時，她沒嫁妝，我也沒房產，各自只有一個行李箱。假如當時沒有我UCLA客待家庭〈host families〉的幫忙，我們的婚禮可不會進行得那麼順利。直到現在，我念念不忘我的客待家庭母親Norma Herbert。我們的蜜月旅行，更是簡單，我租用一部車（圖四），先開到Santa Monica海邊城過夜，再沿海岸往南開到海軍城San Diego，就返回洛杉磯，還好中途換搭船到海島Catalina Islands 玩兩天，如是一星期而已，情甘也意願。
按：這是我在Amazon Kindle出版的電子書名叫「Life Asks. I Answer. 命問我答」中的第三篇。
Marriage at first sight
Author Tender Lin
I don’t speak Japanese, and my Japanese wife does not speak Chinese or Taiwanese. Therefore, at social contacts, people often asked me what language we use to communicate with each other. To me, that is an easy question to answer, as we all speak English and we live in USA. However, I can detect that this simple answer does not satisfy the person. Usually, he/she will immediately pop out another question, “where did you two meet?” I don’t mind to answer to answer this question and said, “Los Angeles”. I know if I do not give a little bit more information, he/she again will not satisfy. For me, I rarely ask couple how they met, as I treat it as a private matter. However, my marriage ignites curiosity over privacy. I wish I am a novelist, and I sure will draw a love line from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Even I am not, I would not disappoint you, as I am a counseling psychologist. I will frequently ask myself, “What can I share with you from my marriage?”
At first, I acknowledge if I got married with a Taiwanese girl, my life course would be much different from it is now. Marriage is big thing in life. Life course after marriage is determined by both partners. If one of the partners is change, its life course will sure be different. I think If I have a Taiwanese wife, I might be more likely to settle in Taiwan, and more likely to participate in political activities, and more often than now have Taiwanese foods, and more often speak Taiwanese with each other, and more………. This is a list without end. Particularly when we got into argument, I will have this “more or less” feeling. To reflect and to compare is a normal brain activity. I believe if you married to a Taiwanese girl, you will reflect on her and compare with other girl too. Is that right?
Obviously we have an international marriage, and that is what attracts people’s curiosity I think. I knew it, but I said to myself it will not be a problem. I did not even bother to obtain consent from my parents in Taiwan. Why? Well, I was born under Japan’s occupation. Few of my family members could speak Japanese, and I can speak a little bit too. When I was small, I often watched Japanese soldiers, and I knew my neighbor’s Japanese wife. In my high school years, I enjoyed watching Japanese movies, and liked pretty Japanese actress. In short, Japanese are not strangers. On the contrary, I even respect them as they make good car, good candies, and good camera. In Taiwan, there is one popular saying, “A fortunate man is the one who lives in a western style of house, eats Chinese food, and marries to a Japanese girl.” You see, I am that fortunate man.
Then how I got to meet my wife? Honestly, it was totally by chance. In 1967, I pursued my doctoral degree at UCLA. I and other Taiwanese students were invited by the Dr. and Mrs. Saunders, the well known missionary couple to China resided at Pacific Palisades, CA. As I entered the building, I saw one pretty black hairs girl walking upstairs. I followed her up and sat next to her. Now I could not remember what talked that night, but I do remember that she came to study English and resided with a Jewish family at Beverly Hill, a well know high class community. After the dinner party, she accepted my offer to take her home. From that night on, we went out every weekend. She cared less about my old Ford Falcon (Picture I), and I did not mind either. We visited any possible tour spots at Los Angeles (Picture II). Regrettably she came with a temporary visa. As I was already a permanent resident, and I knew if we get married, she would get to stay at USA. Finally, we came to conclude that we got married on March 16, 1968 at a Unitarian Church in Santa Monica, CA. (Picture III).
I realized that our marriage foundation was fragile, as we only knew each other for four months. In reflection, I wish we could date a little bit longer. But what the hack, as I think about my parent generation, they even hardly knew each other before marriage. So, my marriage took place on emotion not reason, on need not fame, on circumstance not prearrangement. When we got married, she had no marriage furnishings, and I had no house. All we got are just two suitcases. If there was no help from my host family mother, Mrs. Norma Herbert, my marriage ceremony won’t go smooth for sure. She arranged wedding site and reception cakes, and now I still feel I owed her a lot. Our honeymoon was as simple as it could be. We drove to Santa Monica seashore hotel first by a rent car (Picture IV). Next day we headed to San Diego, then back to Los Angeles within a week. In between, we did sail to Catalina Islands for two days. It was simple but thoroughly enjoyed.
Then what is the thing that we attracted each other? I acknowledge I was completely sold by her beauty. I like pretty girl. At my first sight, I just felt she is very, very pretty. I just talked to myself, “If I get to marry to this pretty girl, every day I would be very happy just by looking at her, not even to mention going to bed with her.” It is not “Beauty is on the eyes of beholder.” Right on the wedding day, Mr. Wu, my UCLA schoolmate, said to me that he couldn’t stop ruminating of his past girlfriend as she was just as pretty as my wife.
Compliments of her beauty are too many to count. Here I just give you two recent examples. One, in 2004 presidential election in Taiwan, I took her to see my elementary school teacher. I was shocked to hear his first words to me, “You’re so great to marry such a pretty Japanese wife,” because she was already a 60 years old lady. Two, in 2008 at East Bay Taiwanese Church, I met an old time friend. We split 34 years ago as she moved back to Taiwan. I was shocked of her first word, “Where is your pretty Japanese wife?” Even recently in a casual gathering, one unknown Taiwanese lady privately asked as my wife if she was a movie star while she was young. I really took these first words from long-time-no-see authority figure, friend, and acquaince not as compliment but as true feeling.
I do not know what I was attracted to my wife. Luckily one day at our casual chat, she told me she was attracted by my sincerity that night. She said she saw my hand trembled while I wrote her my phone number. It showed her that I was a sincere man, and I was not like other man who just like to boaster himself. I could really testify this as her deep rooted value.
Honestly, my wife is not the only girl that I loved at first sight. At my high school and college years, I did like or love some girls, and their images now still hover over my mind once a while. I did not really have a true girlfriend is because I did not have enough courage to date a girl. I was afraid of being ridicule and did not take enough initiative. I ended up telling myself that study is more important than marriage. I feel that marriage is a combination of willingness and chance. Willingness and chance incubate circumstance, and one got to have wit and courage to amplify that circumstance into reality. The time I met my wife, I believe that I had much more confidence than before.
Source from Prof T. Lin’s book, “Life Asks, I Answer (I) 命問我答”, published by Amazon.com. 09/2014
Posted in 06/2015