Ginny tore open the envelope, postmarked from London
, a few months before we were to leave.
"Butlin's Bognor Regis welcomes you to your place of employment," she read. "Assignment: Retail catering."
The name looked regal enough, with "Butlin's Ltd. of London" embossed in gold across the top of the stationery. Elated, she continued: "Listed below is a brief description of the facilities enjoyed by our staff during off-duty hours. These include use of the indoor and outdoor pool, dancing in the large ballrooms, variety shows, plays and films in the numerous theatres, outdoor and indoor sports."
"Wow! It must be a fantastic hotel!" I said. "Retail catering?" I repeated, imagining the possibilities. "We'll need a cocktail dress. Lots of cocktail dresses!"
It was the spring of 1969. The Beatles were about to record "Abbey Road," John and Yoko were planning a "bed-in" for peace, and the British rock invasion was in full force. Screaming and jumping up and down on the pastel floral bedspread my Mom had recently sewn for my room, we bounced with our arms in the air and our hips making rock-and-roll moves as we realized that our summer would be spent in the land of Mick Jagger, Twiggy and the Queen.
I was born extremely inland, in Texas, surrounded by open plains and shopping malls. The farthest I'd ever been was across the border to Mexico
, which had opened my eyes to other places, but not yet my mind. So, at 20, I had decided to spend the summer in Europe
with my best friend Ginny. We had paid $25 to a student travel agency that promised to find us work abroad.