Chapter 12: The end of the tunnel is not far

12.1 A party member must obey party orders. (1962)

Coming home yesterday (3/3/1962), I found a message from Claude. “Come to the lab immediately; we will have protons tonight.” Someone else was not ready and they asked us if we are prepared to use their timeslot. Fortunately, our scattering chamber was ready, waiting for the opportunity to be used. But the night was not at all productive. We gave up by four o’clock in the morning […]

I read about McCarthyism in the US. How does it differ from what we had in Poland? Our personnel departments also used to keep undesirable people away from positions of influence. Kennedy’s speech yesterday does not indicate that the arms race is over. Will I be trusted in Poland? Six years in capitalist France, and a French wife, some might say, are good reasons for keeping Ludwik away from secrets. […] Being away from secrets is fine with me; I do not want to be involved in military applications. But nuclear fission is my specialty and I might have no choice. A party member must obey party orders. […]

The day of glory has arrived; we are harvesting data. We have well-defined questions and good tools to answer them. […] Everything goes smoothly. I have enough experimental data to start writing. […] Another academic year is approaching but the draft of my thesis is not ready. […]

I met F during the summer. She finished medicine and is now working in a hospital, as a resident. I like her simplicity, and her well-defined professional plan. She wants to specialize in psychiatry. We are very comfortable with each other. It is obvious that each of us wants more than talking but we are waiting. I am afraid to spoil something promising by being too aggressive. […] She is looking for a room to rent; I will be living in the new residence for students in Orsay, less than one kilometer from the lab. […]

I now have a four-step plan. […] The last step is to submit my dissertation by March 1. And what about F? Suppose we love each other and decide to get married. She will need at least two years to get the diploma. We would be separated during most of that time. That would be a new complication. […]

We had a nice weekend, hitchhiking to Brest. Accepting my invitation to the trip she said that she had only 500 francs to spend. Fortunately, I had money and she accepted this. Her family is poor. She is strongly committed to leftist causes, mostly at the university. We stayed in a little Normandy hotel. We kissed each other but she did not allow me to undress her--”please do not put me into a situation in which I am doing something that is not right,” she said.

Then she cried. “Are you a virgin?” I asked. The answer was negative. “When did you break up with your last boyfriend?” I asked. “About two years ago.” I looked at her and asked why she was crying. “Never mind; girls are like this,” she said. Then she added something remarkable--”I would not resist if I did not care about you.”

I was tempted to say that young people are often blind before their animal needs are satisfied. But I did not say this. Later she told me about bad relations with her father, who will probably divorce her mother soon. She knows I am returning to Poland after the doctorate, in several months. What does she think about this? We have to talk. Do we have enough time to build something permanent? Would she go with me? Would she be willing to commute for two years, after our wedding? […]

This is Chapter 12.
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Chapter 01 Brief Summary click
Chapter 02 Extracts From My First Notebook click
Chapter 03 Anya, Ika and Other Problems click
Chapter 04 Death of Our Leader click

Chapter 05 Last Years at Polytechnic click
Chapter 06 Beria was the Villain click
Chapter 07 Aftermaths of the 20th Congress click

Chapter 08 Warm Welcome in France click
Chapter 09 Communists Killing Communists Again click

Chapter 10 Fourth Year in Paris click
Chapter 11 Climbing Toward the Doctorate click
Chapter 12 The End of the Tunnel is Not Far click
Chapter 13 Back to Poland With the Doctorate click

Chapter 14 Missing Diaries click
Chapter 15 Year of Blessings click
Chapter 16 Appendix for questions and Comments click