Sixteen minutes left until I’m off the clock. It’s been a long week and I longed for the weekend! Of course, I didn’t have any plans except to shop, watch numerous shows on Netflix and text Tyler some more. I was starting to like him. A lot. After I told him about Matthew’s incident at the swimming pool, he seemed to care – well at least he sounded like he cared. Fourteen minutes to go and my host kids were being very slow! I had to feed both of them before they left for their grandparents for the weekend and they were eating their grilled cheese sandwiches at a slow pace. It didn’t help that I left the TV switched on which slowed down their food cravings. I headed for the living room, picked up the TV remote from the coffee table and switched off the TV.
“Awwwww!” Matthew and Adam moaned simultaneously. They both glanced at each other and let out a small giggle.
I headed back to the kitchen.
“Come on, guys. Daddy is gonna be back from work soon and you have to finish your snack before you go.”
They both looked down at their food, picked up their sandwiches and started to chew faster. I knew using their dad against them made them work faster. It’s not like they were afraid of him but he was the more disciplined parent which worked to my advantage. Six minutes to go until my host parent’s get home which means I have two hours to get ready for my date night with Tyler. Time was ticking.
Over the past few days, I learned that Tyler had two elder sisters and a younger brother. His parents lived in New Jersey but his sisters were married and resided on the West coast whereas Tyler was living in student accommodation at The College of New Jersey which was only a thirty minute ride away from my host parent’s home in Princeton (I searched it on Google Maps). His younger brother, James, was living with his parents since he’s still in high school. I told him all about my siblings, my friends – both here and in England. We shared mutual interests. I was sure not to share all information with him in case we run out of things to talk about on our date.
I cleaned up once my host kids finished eating and got them ready for the weekend just in time for when my host parents returned from work. As soon as the front door slammed shut and I waved goodbye to my host family, I ran upstairs, opened the doors of my closet and stared blankly at it hoping the perfect date night dress will magically appear in front of me. Unfortunately, I had way too many jeans and sweatshirts for that particular magic to happen.
“Hmm perhaps a shower first,” I mumbled to myself. I didn’t realise how often I spoke out loud to myself until I became an au pair. It must be the large size of the house that made me feel uneasy and alone. After a 20 minute hot shower, I felt relaxed about my date. I didn’t smell of yogurt or baby wipes anymore, thank god. I picked out a cute red top to match my red lipstick, which complimented my blue jeans and suede black boots.
Now it was time to meet Tyler. I decided I would drive to the restaurant since I had the car for the weekend (plus, I didn’t feel comfortable with Tyler picking me up from my host parent’s home in case he turned out to be a murderer!) I picked an Asian restaurant that I knew wouldn’t be so busy tonight. I parked up two blocks away from the restaurant considering the streets were fully packed out on a Friday night. I saw students going out and possibly getting drunk for the weekend, parents taking their kids to dinner and other people on dates just like me and Tyler. I couldn’t remember the last time I went on a date, it was probably when I was sixteen in England. He had been my “boyfriend” for six months and we went on one cinema date. Pathetic, I know, but now I was older and in America – a country full of opportunity and freedom.
I could see Tyler through the window as I was crossing the street to get to the restaurant. He was already sitting at a table. The waiter walked up to him and must have asked if he wanted a menu because Tyler politely declined ushering the waiter away with his hand. He was probably waiting for me to order. I opened the door and looked straight at him and smiled. He smiled back and stood up to hug me as I walked closer to the table. He smelt fresh and clean like a green juicy apple. He was wearing smart trousers and a sky blue shirt that brought out the green in his eyes.
“You look amazing,” he complimented me as I took my coat off and hung it on the back of my chair.
“Thank you, so do you,” I replied with a smile.
The waiter came over again to hand us our menus and I studied it intently. I buried my face in the menu. What was this worried, anxious and nervous feeling in my stomach? My heart started to beat faster and faster. Not only was this my first date in a long time (years, in fact), but it was my first date with an American boy.
“What are you thinking of ordering?” He asked expectantly.
“Urm, I’m thinking of getting the noodles with egg fried rice. What about you?”
“Probably the Szechwan noodles with sweet and sour chicken,” he replied as he looked down at the menu.
The waiter took our order and we waited patiently for our food. He asked me questions about my host kids, how my week was and the different states I’ve traveled to. He was impressed with the number of cities I’ve visited.
“Wow! I’ve lived here my whole life and only traveled to a few states. You’ve definitely visited more places than me, you win,” he said putting his hands up as if he lost a battle.
“You haven’t been to California? Or Texas? Or even Florida?!” I was surprised at the lack of places he’s visited even though he was born and bred on American soil.
“Nope, I’ve always wanted to,” he said.
I didn’t get it. So many Americans I met hardly traveled outside of America, let alone across America. I was stunned. A few minutes later, the waiter entered from the kitchen and made her way to us with our food. I was starving, maybe that was the feeling in my stomach as I remembered I hadn’t eaten since lunch time.
We ate and talked for what felt like hours. That nervous, anxious feeling was soon gone. I loved talking to Tyler, I felt I could tell him everything and anything. This is what I was missing all these months – communication and contact. It’s hard leaving your country behind, but living in a whole new one where you don’t know anyone, where you have no friends, no family, and no-one to even talk to, can be the most depressing feeling from being away from home. Truth of the matter is, I missed London. I missed my home, my people, my life. My host family was just a distraction from that.
Talking to Tyler for the past two hours made me realise I may have made the wrong choice to extend for yet another year in America. But was I ready to say goodbye to my host family? To say goodbye to someone who cared about me the way Tyler seemed to care?