The next few months there were some major changes in my life. I was determined to go to college like my sister. The week after I heard my sister was accepted, I went to Broward Community College (BCC) and applied for admission. I took all the original school documents I used to get into truck driving school. I made a copy of my voters’ registration card, which was the newest arsenal to my list of document. The only thing missing is a US passport. On the application I checked US citizen. The application was long.
I was there early so I was able to see an advisor. The advisor’s name was Pauline Brown. Once she opened her mouth I knew she was Jamaican. She was very nice and asked where in Jamaica I was from and the typical question I hated.
“When las yuh go home?”
“Last year” I replied. It is a question that is a constant reminder of not being able to go home.
“I was down last month. Jamaica nice” she responded.
She reviewed my application and told me they would get back to me within two weeks to month.
I was careful not to tell anyone about my application to BCC. I did not want jinx it. It was difficult. I shared everything with Mary-Ann, except me being an illegal alien.
Two weeks later I came home greeted to a letter from Broward Community College sitting in the room I still shared with Aunt Fern’s son, Andre. I was afraid to open the letter.
My fear of opening official documents since I moved to the US stems for the disappointments I had in the past. I went to work the next day but the letter was still on my mind. That night while I was talking to on the phone to Mary-Ann I was thinking of the letter. I held it in my hand while we spoke. I could hear her speaking but my mind was asking the questions “what was in the letter”. Was it good news or bad news?
The next morning I could not contain myself anymore. I opened the envelope, and unfolded the letter. My heart was pounding very hard. I read the first line and had a huge sigh of relieve. All I remember were the words congratulations. I have provisionary acceptance. There were 2 things I had to do next. I had to take a placement test to see the level I was at and then I would have orientation. I could start the same time as my sister.
There was also some bad news. I would have to pay out-of-state/international fees until I could prove I lived in the state for 12 months and was a US citizen/green cardholder. The fee is almost twice the normal per credit cost. It is the story of my life as an Illegal Alien. Good news always followed by bad news.
Reality also set in. How would I tell my father about this? I went behind his back. I was over 18 and considered myself my man (according to US standards). Facing my father would not be easy. I think his expectation was that my sister would go to school and I would work to help support her with my US currency. Now I would be going to school.
That opportunity provided itself quickly. My father called that week to say he was delaying my sister arriving for the school term. The Jamaican dollar had been devalued and there were issues with the bank and getting foreign currency. I told him that I applied and was accepted. There was a moment of silence.
“When did you apply?” he asked
“Three weeks ago” I replied.
“Oooh” he replied.
He said nothing else. More of silence, then I heard him talking to my mother in the background.
She came on the phone.
“Congratulations”, she said, “Now your sister will have someone to study with and keep her focused on her school work”.
I was relieved. I think my mother must have said something to my father.
My father came back on the phone later and said he would be coming in a few weeks to get us set up in an apartment and with a car. This turned out better than I expected. But as usual the good is always followed by the bad.
My relationship with Mary-Ann was about to change again.
For months Mary-Ann had been asking me why I had not visited Jamaica. I gave her all the usual excuses.
I can’t get the time from work. I am in school. My family visits all the time so I don’t need to go. I had an excuse each time.
One day while we were at the mall she looked me in the eyes and asked.
“Are you here illegally?”
I was shocked but tried not to show any emotions. I tried not to blink, as I looked her in the eyes.
“No, sweetie” I replied. “Where did that come from?” I did not want to confess
“Channel 7 has been doing an investigation on illegal aliens in South Florida. They said many of them are Jamaicans”, she replied looking me straight in the eyes.
“Okay, now I understand. Well I am not” I tried to assure her. She did not show any real emotions and continued to look me in the eyes. I was not sure if she believed me.
“They said some of the signs are reluctance to travel back to their homeland and finding excuses why they cannot. Do you have a green card or are you a citizen?”
“I have a green card” I replied in a tone that said lets not talk about this anymore. It was becoming very difficult to keep a straight face. I was very uncomfortable.
“I just want you to know that if you were illegal I would marry you so you can get your green card. Ok. I really ” she replied. The tone of here voice sounded like she did not believe me.
“I am fine sweetie. I was planning to go to Jamaica soon. Maybe you can come.” I replied. I was lying through my teeth.
“Sure. When?” she asked
“I will let you know” I replied
“Do you like that shirt”, I asked as I pointed to a shirt in the display window at the men’s store, Oak Tree. I was quickly trying to change the topic.
“Yes”, she replied.
I was successful in changing the topic even though I was convinced she did not believe me. I was uncomfortable but was able to get through our time together that day.
Being confronted by Mary-Ann was disturbing. I knew she knew. It changed my view of the relationship. In a weird way I felt a deeper connection to her. Even though I would always deny it, the feeling that she understands more of what I was going through was reassuring. On one hand that was good but on the underhand it was bad. As an illegal alien my trust for everyone was low. After my break up with Sherri-Ann did not trust for women. Even though Mary-Ann did not seem like the vindictive type she now had something over me. I felt more obligated to make our relationship work. The race issue became less of a problem and protecting my secret became more important.
Her offer to marry me lingered in my mind for a while. Was I being stupid to turn the offer down? I knew that my only hope for legalization was through marriage. Recently there was an amnesty for illegal alien but I did not qualify. I heard the horror stories of “business” marriages”. Could this work because I “liked” Mary-Ann. Was I even ready for marriage? Why did she ask this question? Why did she have to put me in this situation?
From that day forward our relationship changed. I felt I had to give more than required in the relationship for her to keep my secret. It was not a very nice feeling.
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