It was 3 months since my last encounter with Nicola. I could not get her out of my mind. I was feeling great about my future immigration status. Now that I was not looking for someone to marry for a green card maybe she would take me back. A few times I thought about calling but did not. My last memory of her was she making it clear she did not want to see me again.
The University of Miami was holding an immigration forum to discuss the President’s immigration Executive order. The forum was going to be held at the Gables campus where Nicola lived. It would be an opportunity for me to visit her. I was sure that showing up in person would have more impact than a call in any effort to win her back.
The forum was starting at 5 pm. I would have to leave work a little earlier than normal.
Getting the early time-off to go to the forum would be a breeze. My manager has been treating me with “kid’s gloves” since I had informed him the wedding was off. In fact everyone at work treated me “extra” nice after finding out the wedding was off.
After Juliet, left I struggled with how to tell people that the wedding was off. I was not sure what my mother was telling relatives in Jamaica but I am sure she handled things very “diplomatically”. I needed a “story”. A good one that people would believe.
I held off telling people the wedding was off for a few days. I had to pretend at work that things were normal. The one thing that helped during those few days was the knowledge that my immigration status would soon change.
After a few days there were a few options that came to mind for a “story” on why the wedding was called off.
I could tell them that we postponed it to another time but people would keep asking “When?”.
I could tell them that we broke up then the “nosy” people would want the details or make up their own.
I could tell them she had an emergency in Anguilla and she had to go back home, but then people would ask what was the emergency and what was the new date of the wedding.
Then the perfect “story” hit me. She had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized. It was believable. No one would ask to visit her and there would be no questions as people typically felt awkward discussing mental illness.
I started to tell people that “story” and it worked better than I thought. Not only did people believe but the sympathetic responses I received were an added bonus. I was treated with “kid’s gloves” by everyone. They all thought that I loved Juliet and that I was devastated. Little did they know that the break up was a relief.
The forum started promptly at 7:00 pm. There was plenty of media there and the auditorium was packed. I sat in the back amongst people that seemed like students. In fact I had tried to dress like a student with a UM shirt and hat. I had to take the hat off eventually as it was getting a little uncomfortable. My main goal was to not draw attention to myself.
There was a panel of 4 people. Two were immigration advocates from a nonprofit organizations. One was a congress man and the other was an immigration lawyer. All were graduates of University of Miami (UM). The moderator for the discussion was a Haitian born professor who taught at UM.
The moderator asked the panel questions in the beginning then the audience was allowed to ask questions of the panel. The question and answers between the panel and moderator was interesting but never meant anything to me. I had questions about the process and documentation but did not ask. I did not want anyone to ID me as an illegal alien. I was hoping someone in the audience would ask more questions and they did. The problem was there was no clarity on anything with the new policy. They kept saying congress was working on the proposal that would take into consideration the items in the president’s executive order. They wanted a new immigration law that would protect the borders and allow those who were here to become lawful immigrants. They predicted that the president may delay all the details of his executive order except the halting of deportations for non-criminals. I left the forum disappointed as there are still no concrete details but it seemed I was still protected. I wanted a green card now and it seems it may take longer. A reporter for the Sun Sentinel stopped me outside in the lobby area.
“Would you like to comment on the forum?” she asked.
“No”, I declined. I did not want to be in the news and I also was anxious to leave. I wanted to see Nicola.
I walked briskly to the dorms that Nicola lived. I had a big smile on my face. I could hardly contain my anticipated excitement of seeing her.
As I got closer I saw her exiting the dorm building.
Perfect timing, I thought to myself. I would not need to go through the security check in to get up to her room.
She did not see me so she would be surprised. I was walking about 50 feet behind her. I was about to call out to her when out of nowhere a guy appeared in front of her and they kissed. Instead of me surprising her I was surprised. She now had a boyfriend.
I tried to quietly walk away before she could see me but It was too late. She turned around and saw me.
“Hi”, I awkwardly said as there was no avoiding her. She and her friend were walking in my direction.
“Hi”, she replied. She introduced her friend Richard to me. Then Nicola introduced me to Richard as a “family friend”.
Yep all I was to her was a “family friend”.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. She looked great. The look that said this is what you could have had.
“Ooh..I came to a forum on campus. Just thought I would stop by”, I replied.
“So sorry you did not call me before as Richard and I are going to a movie. We are running late so maybe we can catch up another day,” she stated.
“Sure. Nice meeting you Richard”, I replied.
I watched Nicola and Richard walk off holding hands.
I wanted to disappear.