Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Karen Larsen (page 6)
 Talking with
Karen Larsen
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You are back teaching, correct? But you think you’ll be out of work, is that it?
I am teaching, and loving it . . . although the third quarter ended just this past week and I have been doing those sixteen hour days to get exams written, administered, corrected and grades tabulated. The classroom is magic, the paperwork less so. This is the nature of the education beast. Student enrollment is, however, declining precipitously in my district. My job is assured for one more year, and I will be taking on my department’s Advanced Placement courses, but by this time next year, I may very well be looking for work. Last hired, first fired, it happens. Maybe it’s time to write another book!
What about Dave’s family . . . are you in touch with them, with you natural mother?
Absolutely, with both Dave and Gloria and their respective families. The best snapshot I can offer is that when Brad and I were married in October of 2002, they ALL came to the wedding. It was the first time that my parents met Dave, Colleen and the girls, and Gloria and Dave had not seen one another in more than twenty years. It was a great night for all sorts of reasons. All of these relationships are still developing and I would be untruthful in pretending that it felt normal and natural all the time. But we all keep talking and writing and visiting, and it seems to be working. Gloria and Isabel were here in Vermont last fall and Brad and I will be taking a sun-holiday of some sort (Belize perhaps?) with the Innisfail gang next Spring.
Your husband must be really someone special to have corralled you. Is he an RPCV?
   He is the best of men. With the possible exception of my Dad, Brad is the finest human being I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. It is sappy, but I still can not quite believe that he and I get to do this “marriage-thing” for the rest of our lives. It is very sweet. He is not, however, an RPCV. In fact, before we took our honeymoon to Italy — we rented a tiny apartment in Venice — he had never been on an international flight.
     He is, however, a traveler; we met through a shared interest in long-distance motorcycling. He has done the solo Alaska run as well and now that his feet have been dampened in the lagoons of Venice, he is more than suggestible about other wanderings. We were in Iceland together this past year, and Bulgaria is definitely on the travel itinerary sometime in the not-too-distant future.
     I think he would have done well in Peace Corps. He’s compassionate and tough, a skilled craftsman — he builds custom millwork and fine furniture — and has a strong sense of responsibility to give something toward the future. The long-term plan here in Vermont, in conjunction with the woodshop that he is now building, is to one day open a small school to teach an art that is sadly on the wane. Brad is also a survivor.
     We had been home from Venice all of two months when a hit-and-run driver ran him down in crosswalk almost directly in front of our home. He nearly died that night — so did I for that matter — and the next year and a half was a nightmarish progression of reconstructive surgeries, five months in a wheelchair, and grueling physical therapy. I tell people that this is part of the bargain, that creating a life together also means that one partner cares for the other when it is needed, and that ultimately one partner listens to the last breath of the other, but we never thought that those considerations would some quite so early. We survived and continue to live and love and build our life.
Thank you, Karen.
Thank you, John.
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