If you’re in need of some back story, staaaaart here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
So far, I’ve kept things fairly serious and dramatic. But really, I’m just getting started. And since I don’t want to feel like shit for the rest of the day, I’m going to incorporate as many gifs as I possibly can. Prepare for a lot of facepalms and WTF? Thank God for Google.
Back in the day, I was quite the housesitter, and I loved every minute. As an illegal immigrant who couldn’t get a job or live on her own, it was the best way to have a place to live, food to eat, AND make some extra cash on the side. Throw in some free wifi to help me locate my awkwardly obtained family members, with erasable browser histories – I was in, I was out, I was clean.
So, in the spring of 2010 (OMG that’s 4 years ago already), I had a big beautiful house on the river all to myself. I have fond memories of this place; I started watching How I Met Your Mother on DVD there…played strip poker for the first time with some girlfriends and then couldn’t sleep that night because I felt so guilty there…started feeling numb down my side and smelling burnt toast at the same time, so I ran to the ER with a stroke, but really it was just the unfortunate combination of a pinched nerve and a sinus infection there…had my first conversation with my dad ever and thought I would die of happiness there…
Damn, if those walls could talk.
It all started with a night of searching.
Matthew Winters. The State of California. Insurance. (I guess the whole pastor thing didn’t pan out very well.)
I had located an insurance website that looked promising, but to be able to send any of the employees an email, I had to click on their name and then click on what kind of insurance claim I wanted to file. Otherwise, everything was locked up tight.
I thought about jokingly filing for some kind of “my daddy never paid for my upbringing” claim,
but I could be in trouble if he wasn’t actually my dad.
Taking a break, I went on Facebook chat to see if any of my friends were around. A guy I knew from a Bible camp a few towns over was online, and I suddenly remembered that he was, shall we say, really good with computers.
Me: Hey dude, what’s up? (keep it cool, dayum, girl)
Him: Not much, you?
Me: Eh, ya know. Same. So hey, was wondering if I could ask you something?
Me: How do I…find…someone online, like an email address, if all I have is their name and where they work?
Him: What’s your info?
Me: Uh, Matthew Winters, State of California, insurance. I think he’s my dad.
Him: Cool! Hold on.
[Less than 10 minutes later]
Him: All I could fish out was this email address. Will that work?
Me: Really??!!?!? I’ll try it! Thank you so much! What do I owe you?
Him: Don’t worry about it. Next time you see me, you can buy me a Coke or something.
To this day, I have not seen him. Dude probably needs a case of Coke by now.
Okay, so. Holy shit. I have my dad’s email address. I hope.
At the time, I was sharing an email address with my mom under a fake name out of her paranoia of the government finding us and drafting me into the WWIII that is the Middle East, or something. So I created an entirely separate email account that had only my dad’s apparent contact information on it.
I emailed him, keeping the same unruffled, nonchalant stance I had taken when I messaged my sister. And then I tried to sleep. Didn’t happen. Checked my email in the morning, and received the greatest surprise.
Oh! My darling daughter! We’ve found each other at long last! I have been searching and searching for you and your mother ever since you left, but your trail went cold in 1998. I thought you had perished. But God has answered my prayers! How are you? How is your mother? Tell me everything.
He was so well spoken, and clearly adored me. I fell in love. We spent 6 days emailing back and forth, spilling ourselves and lapping each other up, all the birthdays and Fathers Days and Christmases we’d lost being recaptured. I was delirious. One friend said, “You got your Hollywood moment!” and I knew it was blissfully true.
And then our first phone conversation happened. His voice was like melted honey; I couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes, I would check my phone and find a voicemail from him, just because he wanted to say hi and I love you.
After a week, we knew we should probably tell our significant others – that being my mom and his wife. Mom was over the moon, the happiest I’d seen her in a long time. And Rachel, dad’s wife, was fine with our contact under 2 conditions: 1.) that she be able to read any messages between myself and him, and 2.) that there be absolutely no contact between my dad and my mom.
This seemed fair and understandable. I told dad to let her know that I would abide by this fully. This was about me and my dad getting to know each other; I had no ulterior motives.
Another week of bliss went by. We had reached a nice rhythm of emails and phone calls, but never got around to Skype unfortunately. It would have been nice to see his face in real time, at least once.
All was becoming normal. And then…
Dad: How’s your mother doing? Feel free to pass along my email address to her, so we can say hi.
Me: Dad, you know the conditions. I need to respect them. I’m sorry.
Dad: Don’t be sorry, you’re right. I’m the one who’s sorry.
A couple of days later…
Mom: “So how are things going with your dad? You know, you can pass my email onto him, if you want. It would be nice to catch up.”
More lovely weeks went by, and they didn’t mention each other to me again. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Late May/early June came around, and my mom wanted to go for lunch with me, so we went to our favourite pizza place. I could tell something was different about her, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
After we ordered our food, she said, “I have a surprise for you.” Tears filled her eyes and she smiled. “I’m in love.”
THAT’S what it was! She looked lighter and happier, with a bit of make-up on. I had never seen her in love before. She’d never dated or brought any men home when I was growing up, and now she had transformed into a giddy teenager right before my eyes. It was foreign and strange, but I was genuinely happy for her.
Oh no. No no no no….
“What did you do?”
I’m in love.
What did you do?
Great start to the lunch conversation.
Mom: “Now I know you said you wouldn’t talk to him for me, but I went ahead and tried to find him myself. Miracle of miracles, I did! And it turns out that…*tears*…your dad still loves me and wants to be with me! I still can’t believe it, I’m just so thankful. So he’s going to come to Canada and marry me. We’re going to be a family again! And…I was hoping…you could help me shop for some nice clothes?”
For a moment, in that pizza restaurant, I drifted into an alternate universe where I was thrilled that my mom was finally happy and cared for, and WANTED me to take her SHOPPING.
“When did this happen?” I asked.
“About 6 weeks ago. Oh gosh, Carly, you know how terrible I am at keeping good secrets, so I’m quite proud of myself for keeping it THAT long! Ooh, here’s our pizza!”
6 weeks…6 weeks…doing math in my head…Dad and I had reached each other 8 weeks ago…which means that right after I had told them I was going to respect Rachel’s boundaries, they went behind my back and broke them anyway.
“So?” she said. “I know it’ll take some getting used to, but what do you think?”
“Uhmmm…well, what’s happening with Rachel? Does she know what’s going on?”
“Your daddy’s still trying to figure that out. She’s a bit of a bitch, keeps threatening to commit suicide whenever he asks for a divorce. His current idea is to fake his death, and then disappear up here. Of course that would be drastic, but it might be his only way out.”
This is the End…hold your breath and count to 10…feel the earth move and then…hear my heart burst again…for this is the End…I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment…
To be continued…
Lost & Found (Family Matters Part 5)