My friend asked me why I didn’t tell anybody what was really going on last year, why I was so happy to be able to buy warm socks this winter, why I didn’t explain that I was pretty much broke at the time. I am going to spill a bit of a back story that I have been kind of keeping a secret. What’s interesting is that as I am writing this, I am realizing that before I got married, I had no back stories, and I had no big secrets.
Before we came to China, I had a good friend who was also looking for a good job. She also had lived in other countries, and didn’t want to be in Cleveland. I had a bit of money, and she had nothing, so I offered to pay for her plane ticket, and several other expenses and fees to come to China with us so that I could have a roommate, and together we could have a better house. She, of course, was to pay back all of the money I fronted her when she got paid. And when she got her plane ticket reimbursed, that was to go to me.
Meanwhile, my company wanted me to move to a different district far away, but she had already gotten her placement and we had already found an apartment downtown, so I fought with my company to let me stay downtown, because I wasn’t going to leave her high and dry. We had gone to IKEA 2-3 times and bought things for our place. We went sight-seeing on our days off. And I paid for everything. I offered. I was happy to. I knew she would pay me back. Every time we got home, she would write it all down in her ledger, how much she owed me.
In the mean time, I noticed she took taxis to work every day, while I walked. She bought all of her meals from outside or had them delivered, while her special, gluten-free, dairy free, three times more expensive, food spoiled or rotted in the cupboards and fridge. She left the A/C on in her room all day while she was at work because “it prevented the humidity” she said. She spent weekends in hotels to “get away.” She also left dishes for my nanny to wash, and ate the food my nanny cooked, leaving me several days with no meal when I came home. I paid for my nanny and my groceries. “It was so good.” She would say. “I couldn’t help myself.”
She never paid an electric, gas, water, or bottled water bill, and in 6 months she only paid about $150 back from the debt she owed me. At that rate it was going to take over 2 years to pay me back. I was wearing thin, as you can imagine, and then I got the flu. Vomitting, high fever, sweats, horrible –for 5 days. I left the rent money on the table. She didn’t pay it. She didn’t talk to me. She says she didn’t even know I was sick for 5 days.
Then, one day, we were talking about needing to buy something and I said it would have to wait until payday. She asked why, and I told her I was out of American money so unless she could pay me back, I have nothing. This is NO Exaggeration –In three days she moved out to some district far away leaving no forwarding address. I couldn’t get another roommate that fast, although I tried. No one really wants to live with kids, so I had to find a new place. And I had to tell the landlord. In the middle of my meeting with him, he asked me to text her immediately and that he wanted the keys back. He also said that if I could move out by the rent due date, he would give me half of my half of the deposit. I did that, but for the record, I paid 2/3 of the deposit, not half. She apparently left her keys under the door after I had moved out, and then got mad that I got some of the deposit back, when she never even directly contacted the landlord and she broke the lease.
Many people said I should go to her workplace, I know where the headquarters are, or I should sue her or whatever. But then before I even told my mother what happened, my mother told me that this “friend” e-mailed her and told her she was a horrible grandmother and had no idea how to raise black children. This coming from a 48 year-old woman who has never had children, and her favorite words were, “But, what about me?” Oh and her paranoia about my girls “talking behind her back” and when Rumi tried to help her with her laundry, she gave Raine candy and not her, because she turned the washer on. It would take me days to fix the problems she made with the girls.
So I look back at this psychopathic behavior and wonder, what did I miss? I’ve had my run-in with two horrible psychopaths before, but when I reflect, I know there were signs and red flags that I either missed or chose to ignore. However, in this case, she must be an expert, because I NEVER saw this coming.
After the girls and I got a new apartment which cost a lot more, and I tried to do side jobs and tutoring, but I was in the red every month. Looking back, that place seemed so dark and cold and dingy now. After the nanny went crazy and then the second landlord demanded a month’s pay, it took me months to get out of the huge hole I was in.
The best thing that happened to me, was moving out here to the “burbs.” I have a beautiful apartment, I got a raise, and food, rent, nanny, and things are cheaper. I can also afford to buy wool socks if I need them. In fact, I bought us winter things from earmuffs to gloves to socks, and even winter pajamas.
However, I had a lot of generous and consistent help and support from some very good friends. If it wasn’t for them, I would have no idea where I would be right now. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank and honor the friends who have helped me so generously get through this year. I hope that you get back tenfold what you have given me!