Weepy Post Part II

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Have to catch up? Well, you didn't miss much, and although I don't normally force more of my writing on people than is absolutely necessary - besides, usually even minimal exposure is sufficient to inflict the desired amount of torture - I'd still state the obvious and encourage you to read Part I first.

Now, before I continue the saga, I just want to ask you to please forgive me for telling this in such fits and starts. This is the first time I'm ever writing this story in full, and although I've already told it to a few people, these aren't memories I like to revisit.

People who have heard the story often encourage me to write it down. Not just for the therapeutic value of it, but they actually think it would make a good book! (Not unless I'd hire a ghost writer, though!) I've always used the excuse that it would be too blatantly indiscreet or disloyal of me to write this story. I've even used the feeble defence that it might not even be my story to tell, that I can't really claim ownership to it, you know? Truth is, it's always been just too difficult to face that part of my past.

So why am I writing it down now?

Well, I've been stuck in immigration limbo for so long and, even though I rarely write about any of that stuff on here, it's been weighing on my mind a lot lately.

And since these events were a crucial part of the journey that has brought me to this point in my life, and since I'm telling this story to explain how I became an illegal immigrant (by the way, this is NOT a how-to manual! Rather a How-NEVER-to, please listen-and-learn-from-my-mistakes story!), I've decided to finally release it.

I know it sounds really melodramatic ("MOI? MELO-DRAMATIC?!?" she says with fluttering eyelids, the back of her hand sweeping across her brow) to use words like "releasing", etc. Truth is, I actually think there might be a valid point hidden in all that "therapeutic value" psycho-babble.

But even more than that... my situation has had me feeling quite desperate lately. And if you'd ask any stalker, I'm sure they'll agree that desperation is NOT a good mental place to be in! So I'm hoping that in writing this down, an answer will come to me and I'll have a sudden, miraculous and clear revelation on what to do to get out of this tricky spot in my life, because right now, I feel rather stuck here.

I'm also hoping that I'll finally reach someone who is going through the same thing, because in all the years I've been in the U.S., and in all the years since I've finally filed with Immigration to become legal, I've never met anyone who is going through quite the same thing as I am. At times it's made me feel as if I'm all alone in this boat (or more like a rickety old raft, maybe) and so I'm lost in this seemingly endless sea without any nautical/navigational skills!

Of course I KNOW that I'm not as alone as I feel, because well, according to U.S. immigration statistics, my case is but one of 3.7 MILLION backlogged immigration cases. But more about that later.

I know I'm pinning a lot of hope on this little story of mine. Maybe, if nothing else, it will just be good to finally get it out of my system...

So thank you for bearing with me. If it's this frustrating for me to write this down (and it isn't even a literary description of the events!), I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you to try and lumber through it!

And on that note, here, at last, is the continuing story.

At first life with Family Two felt great. Maybe it was because I had finally started to make a few friends in the neighbourhood, and so for the first time since arriving in the States, I was cultivating a bit of a social life.

After all, there's nothing like drunken, giggly bonding with a group of other nannies over a bottle (or several) of wine to make one feel at home in a foreign country. And to make one feel hungover (especially good for bonding with a bathroom), but that's a different story.

Or maybe it was because I had learned to simply ignore and numb myself to the more sinister undertones of family life after allowing Family One's emotional baggage to affect every fibre of my being so much.

Perhaps it was because Family Two had animals (and I'm NOT just referring to the two kids here, har har) in their house. Because let's face it, pets have a quiet, gentle way to transform any house into an instant home. (The grinning yellow labrador, grateful for all the attention I was just too happy to give her, immediately became my loveable shadow.)

But whatever the reason, I was oblivious until things finally, inevitably, started unraveling.

Sure, in retrospect I can now see that there were clues all along and all over the place, but I chose to be blissfully ignorant.

The mother of the house did not work. And I don't mean that as a critical statement at all. After all, I was just happy to have a gig in a seemingly "normal" household to worry too much about why they would spend $150 a week (yes, that was my "staggering" salary for a six-day, 60/70 hour work week!) on someone to look after their children.

I'm only pointing it out because later on, I would often wonder whether it was such a good idea for the mother to have had so much leisure time. But not until I had, in a fit of typical early-20's angst (and a bit of self-importance, I suppose), wondered if I wasn't solely to blame for their eventual wrecked lives...

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's actually laughable that I had ever worried about my presence in their home being a financial burden to them. It soon became clear that these people had enough money to support an entire army of nannies.

It wasn't THAT obvious at first. (Or maybe it was. Maybe I'm just not that attuned to things like that. I've never been one to pay much attention to the types of cars people drive, or the labels they wear. Most of the time stuff like that is completely lost on me. Yeah, I'm not very observant for someone who wants to be a writer!)

Sure, they lived in a lovely house, but it was hardly a mansion. Their cars were relatively new, but so were many people's who lived a middle-class life (on the upper end of the scale) during the late 90's, that age of abundance here in the U.S.

Their wealth became much more apparent to me over time.

When buying things for the children, the budget was limitless. But I didn't find that so strange, because by then I was almost (but not quite... still not quite) used to the idea of how many people overindulge their children, especially when it comes to material things.

What finally tipped me off to the depth of their wealth was how other people reacted towards them. When shopping at certain stores, the managers would often drop everything, shoo the sales people away and fall over themselves to be of assistance to them. At first I thought: "Okay, so maybe they own the store."

Wrong. They owned the entire city block!

Actually, "they" didn't own it. She did. Make no mistake, he had wealth too, but as I was to find out later, she had much more.

Okay, so you get the idea. They were rich.

Thinking back, one of the first clues I should've had that something was wrong, was all the solo trips taken by the mom to various spas around the country. Yes, it's probably not THAT unusual for a woman of means to spoil herself, but she seemed to PREFER being away from her husband and her children. So I wasn't too surprised to later learn that those trips were just a cover for something else.

By the summer of 1997 I was well settled into my life with Family Two. Mom and Dad played a lot of golf and I was often left home alone with the children.

On top of everything, they had also decided that it was an ideal time to renovate a large part of the house! If you've ever lived in a house while it's being renovated, then you know how frustrating and messy it can get. That pretty much sums up the summer I had that year!

In August, as the renovations were in full swing, the family left for a vacation at their second home in one of the northern states. The dogs and I were left behind.

About halfway through August, the father returned home to sort out a crisis that had come up at work. When he left again, he took the dogs with him so that I could have a bit of a break. I was very grateful for the unexpected holiday and promptly made plans to go to New York.

For some now-forgotten reason, I decided to return from New York a few days earlier than I had planned. I really can't remember why. Maybe it was because I had wanted to celebrate my birthday with my friends. Maybe I just wanted to have the house to myself for a bit. Whatever my reason, after a few fun-filled days in the city, I went home.

Despite all the years that have passed, I still remember that homecoming as clearly as if it was yesterday.

It was early on a Sunday evening towards the end of August. I remember paying the cabbie and dragging my suitcase up the front steps.

The silence in the house was almost eerie. With no barking dogs bounding to the door to meet me, no bickering kids, no blaring television, or any of the other familiar noises, the house felt almost foreign and strange.

I will never know why I didn't immediately turn on any lights or music. I just remember descending the stairs to the basement, which is where my bedroom was. The basement was also the only place that had remained untouched during the big renovations, and that's probably why things happened the way that it did.

I didn't realise that I wasn't alone until I rounded the corner and actually saw them in my bedroom.

On my bed, tangled in the sheets, my female boss - and mother of the children I was looking after - lay wrapped in the arms of a man I had never seen before.

I went completely numb. I've since come to realise that shock might be the body's way to protect the mind from whatever awful event it's experiencing, because I can't really remember the details of what happened next. I vaguely remember that I just turned on my heel and fled from the house. Later I remember driving around aimlessly in the nanny car and crying a lot.

When I finally did go home, it was much, much later at night. I was obviously hoping that she would be gone or asleep and that I wouldn't have to face her. I had no idea whether they had seen me there in the basement and after the anguished hours I had spent crying and worrying, I had begun to hope that they had not seen me. (But only after praying that I had merely imagined the entire surreal scene.)

I wondered what it all meant, whether I was supposed to tell my male boss about what I had seen. "By the way, your wife's having an affair."
How does one breach a subject like that? What there a certain protocol? An etiquette rule? And if I DID tell him, how would he react? Would they divorce? What about the kids?

Those were just some of the questions that had me weeping and worrying that night.

When I arrived home for the second time that evening, I was so scared. And yet, unlike my earlier homecoming, all the lights were now blazing and so from the outside, the house certainly LOOKED much friendlier and inviting than it had before. My heart sank though, because those lights meant that she was probably still awake.

I walked in with a heart so heavy, one would've thought that I was the one who had been caught doing something I wasn't supposed to. Now I worried about what she was going to say to me. Would she beg me not to tell? Would she be furious at me for returning home unexpectedly? What if she simply decided that I wasn't worth any risk and what if she just fired me?

I felt as if I was walking towards the site of my own execution.

I don't know what exactly I had expected to find, but the scene I was met with definitely came as yet another surprise.

She was awake and sitting at the kitchen table.

With him.

Damn, so he had NOT been a figment of my imagination after all!

I certainly did not expect him to still be there.

They were having an intimate feast at the table. I remember seeing several seafood dishes and champagne.

I had to walk through the kitchen to get to the basement stairs. There was NO way to simply sneak by them. So I must've said something, because they both looked over at me and she said: "Hi! What are you doing back?" She sounded friendly rather than startled, and I felt guilty and selfish for thinking: "Okay, yay! So she DOESN'T know that I had seen them." I hated myself for feeling so relieved.

She certainly didn't LOOK like someone who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She introduced me to her "friend" and asked me about New York. When I asked her what she was doing back from the north, she said she had made a doctor's appointment months earlier that she had almost forgotten about. They even invited me to join them for the rest of their dinner, but I mumbled something about being tired and I declined.

I couldn't wait to get out of there. I was SO relieved! They obviously had no idea that I had seen them together earlier.

I entered my dark bedroom and tripped over something. I got up, confused, and turned the light on.

It was my suitcase. The same one I had taken to New York. In all the confusion, I had forgotten all about it! I realised that I must've dropped it before I ran from the house.

Before I even looked around the rest of my room, it hit me: they had found my suitcase just outside my bedroom door and they had moved it into the room. So they DID know that I had seen them!

When I finally looked at the rest of my room, I went cold. My suspicions were instantly confirmed.

My bedroom was in chaos. It looked like they had been holed up in there for several days. They had not even bothered to erase any evidence of their illicit affair! There were dirty plates, empty wine bottles and glasses all over the place. The bed had clearly been used. All those things spelled out a very clear message: We know that you know, and this is how little we care about it.

I didn't sleep a wink that night, but when the sun came up the next morning, I finally cried myself to sleep on the downstairs couch.

Of course I had no way of knowing right then that far worse things were laying in store for all of us.

(I'm not trying to be a soap opera writer, honestly. I just really can't carry on right now.)

11 Comments

Michelle said:

"Sjoe!" is about the only word that comes to mind... Blessings in your purgings, Red. It seems to be krapping up all sorts of kak and that's never easy.

deeleea said:

Yeah... this one time? In my job?

I found the boss' coke stash...

Good on you for telling your story Red... I'ts got to be good for you.

kim said:

man, that's horrible. they did it in you room, in YOUR BED? oh my... telling this has got to be good for you. and i don't know what else there is to come [it's only the august of '97] but i already have a feeling you SHOULD definetely write a book about it. i think there may be special visas for great, famous writers as well, but i'm not sure ;o)

PS: i hope part III doesn't take another 4 WHOLE DAYS and just FYI: i'm not gonna make it to my aerobics-class because i couldn't get myself to go home before reading this first. see, it already is a bestseller people (I) forget all their (my) appointments over... bless my fat ass ;o)

Lisa said:

Wow. Just...umm...WOW.

TimT said:

*phew!*

Oh my GOD, Red, that's the craziest, amazingest story I've heard for a long time! Sounds like you weren't losing too much not working for them, apart from the nanny car (you had a nanny car? that's so cool!)
Seriously, they sound like selfish bast*ds!

*Grips edge of seat awaiting next installment*

Red Dahling,
When you finish your last installment,we should go out for lots of drinks. Can it be soon ? My liver is starting to hurt.

kat said:

good god red! hearing your tale makes me feel like i have the nanny job from heaven!

thank you for sharing your story!!

martha said:

what a nightmare... ugh...

pylorns said:

You should have walked in and said "Room for one more?"

Miss Lisa said:

oh my god!!!!!!

Miked said:

red,

I've been away from the blogging loop for awhile. I want to thank you for sharing such a personal story and wish only the best for you in the future. Stay strong!

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about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Miked : red, I've been away from the blogging loop for awhile. I want to thank you for sharing such a perso... [go]
  • Miss Lisa : oh my god!!!!!!... [go]
  • pylorns : You should have walked in and said "Room for one more?"... [go]
  • martha : what a nightmare... ugh...... [go]
  • kat : good god red! hearing your tale makes me feel like i have the nanny job from heaven! thank you for... [go]
  • bookstorediva : Red Dahling, When you finish your last installment,we should go out for lots of drinks. Can it be so... [go]
  • TimT : *phew!* Oh my GOD, Red, that's the craziest, amazingest story I've heard for a long time! Sounds li... [go]
  • Lisa : Wow. Just...umm...WOW.... [go]
  • kim : man, that's horrible. they did it in you room, in YOUR BED? oh my... telling this has got to be good... [go]
  • deeleea : Yeah... this one time? In my job? I found the boss' coke stash... Good on you for telling your st... [go]
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