My first reaction to being back home was one of joy. After a few days I began to realise just how much Quentin had suffered from my absence. It was easier for Robin because he was older. He missed me very much but he knew he would see me again. The bond of the child to the mother grows weaker as he gradually becomes more and more independent. This is how things should be. The younger children are, the more time stretches out longer and longer without the beloved presence of the mother. When a child is only two or less when the mother goes away, even a few days can seem like forever. Two months seemed so long for Quentin, that although he received me back with delight I was not the same to him that I was before. Argenida, my maid, told me that for several days after I went, he cried a great deal and kept looking about him to see where I was. When that stopped, his behaviour was re-arranged to annoy those around him. Yet he was still his cheerful self. He was a born optimist. Nevertheless there was a distance between us that wasn’t there before.
It was nice to be a family again but there were some undercurrents. Things were not right between Bob and me. My enjoyment of Venezuela was wearing thin. I wanted to go back to England for good. We knew that Bob’s work would come to an end in another two years. One of the messages I wish to pass on to my readers is that when we are in a difficult position emotionally, those of us like me who are imaginative and like to plan for the future work out ideas in our conscious minds, but make our real plans in our unconscious mind. Only that part of us understands what we really want.
I knew, first and foremost, I must go back to England with the boys and find myself some work to do. It would have to be teaching because I had the right qualifications and would leave me enough time for the boys. I was still angry inside with Bob because he had so badly failed to understand my motive for going home. I found it very difficult to give him what he wanted from me. Like most men his sex-life was very important to him, but I always felt that he was not giving me anything. How could he when he knew so little about me?
I decided to do something positive. I would have proper swimming lessons and so would the boys. The club swimming teacher was a big, strong Italian employed by the company. He often walked past my house and I liked the look of him. He had a solitary air and appeared to have no friends. He never joined in with any of the entertainments at the clubhouse as far as I could see.
Quentin went every morning to an infant school run by a Dutch woman who was very kind and loved children. Quentin was happy there. Robin was in the first year of school. He liked everything except the senorita, the Venezuelan teacher who taught Spanish. “I am an English boy. Why do I have to learn Spanish?”. This was surprising with two Spanish-loving parents. Despite the fact that the boys were three and five when we left, neither of them remembered anything at all about those years.
I had made up my mind that I would have an affair with this man that would bring me some kind of male comfort. With both boys at school and his flat outside in the town of Maracaibo, I thought I could meet him in private.
I didn’t fall in love with him, but he did with me. He was a kind and philosophical man who had never married. He was fifteen years older than I. He appeared to me as something like a father figure. Most of the men who have liked me have been in that category. This is hardly unexpected when I think of my own father and our lack of closeness.
Our relationship had a kind of unreal feeling, tucked away in his tiny flat listening to extracts from the opera “La Boheme” with a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice. He talked about marriage and that he couldn’t marry me because my children would say to him “I am not your father.” From what he told me about his past I guessed he had never really wanted to marry. He had not the slightest thought of such a thing.
I like to be truthful in all aspects of my life. It wasn’t long before I began to feel very guilty. I am not one who can easily behave in this way. Again in hindsight, I knew this couldn’t last much longer.
One day I told Bob, who said “Yes I thought something was going on.” He was very upset. I couldn’t feel sorry for him. He sent that cruel letter and I felt I had my revenge. My Italian friend provided me with a good reason for going back to England with the boys. Bob stayed on to finish his contract. From what he told me about it he had an enjoyable time, free from all this high drama. The Venzuelans loved him.
I realised once and for all that I must take good care of myself and I knew that my family was and is, the most important aspect of my life.
What was I going to do? Yes. I still wanted to have my great career and I still didn’t know what I wanted. I was thirty and I thought I had wasted time in some respects. But I had not. I was always trying things out, reading everything that could teach me what I wanted to know, finding out more and more of other people and myself and enjoying studying my boys by spending enough time with them.