I am sure that most will know exactly what it was that was causing me to look around and wonder who was making that sound; the sound that attempts to attract one's attention. "Psst", was heard as I entered the ladies room to wash the dishes at the end of the day. I looked around, but found there to be no one around.
The feeling that I was being televised for a new reality programme is not such an nonviable thought. There have been occasions when I am sure that the 'hidden camera' is just around the corner. This week was no exception.
Samantha had received a letter two weeks ago, summoning her to an interview, in order to 'change status' and finally take away the 'conditional' that has been part of her 'residency' in the US of A! She has undergone years of turmoil and although she received the status of 'resident' four years ago, and followed all the instructions that were given, two years ago, in order to remove the dreaded word, 'conditional', it would appear that her file was constantly put at the bottom of the pile! The interview was for Tuesday, this week, and although she was rather excited, she was also a little apprehensive, because of everything that has preceded this appointment. As she and Edward were involved in an accident before her last meeting, that almost prevented her from attending, as the trip to San Antonio first thing in the morning is, at the very least, marred by traffic, they decided to leave on Monday afternoon, and booked into a hotel a little more than a 'stone's throw' from the immigration building! I promised to look after the dog!
It rained on Monday evening. It did not just rain, it poured! I left work while the sun was shining and the temperature had hit 103 degrees. I swam in the heat of the evening, and as Dana was going to be an hour or two before leaving the office, I sat on one of the lounge chairs, by the water, and started to read my latest novel! The sky was blue, and the sun was still beating down on the patio as I opened the paperback to where I had turned down the corner of the page. Before I had finished the first paragraph, I heard a rustling noise. "Shhh", came a sound from behind me. It was not the same "Psst", that I had heard before, but I started to wonder who was 'playing games'. I turned back to my book, and noticed that someone had 'dimmed the lights'. Looking up to the sky, it had turned from a glorious hue of azure, to a rather angry purplish grey. Again I heard someone behind me. "Shhh". I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw the small table by the next lounger move along the patio unaided. It was when my towel flew from the back of the chair, over my head, that I realised the sound that I had presumed was from another being, was in fact the wind, and the trees were now waving as if there was a procession passing! I gathered my belongings, and fought my way up the stairs, going as fast as flip-flops would allow, to my house, and opening the front door just in time to get out of the rain that had started to pound into the pavement!
Water cascaded down the windows, and into rivers that had started to flow into a larger ocean that had appeared at the entrance of our complex. Dana arrived home with a very perturbed animal, and both went upstairs to dry off! Frank returned to my side shortly after, and was visibly upset by the lightening, turning at each flash that caught his eye, then howling after each clap of thunder. I was aware that I was not going to get any sleep that night, and the subtlety of the "Psst" and "Shh", were preferable to the wailing cry of the hound!
The rain had not yet reached San Antonio, and Samantha called to say that after changing rooms, as the first was rather sub-standard, they were going to take a romantic stroll along the famous 'River Walk', and enjoy dinner at one of the little restaurants overlooking the beautiful views on offer. She was reasonably calm about her up and coming ordeal (as it has been quite an ordeal) and said she would call the following morning, to let me know they had arrived at the centre, just so that I did not worry! (Me, worry? Who would have thought that was a possibility!)
Dana, Frank and I settled down in front of the television, after dinner, pretending that the flashes of light and racket that followed thereafter, was part of the programme we were watching. The dog was not convinced! At around ten o'clock, I received a message to say that the storms had reached San Antonio, and the romantic stroll had turned into a hurried run, back to the car!
The storms raged through the night, but had dissipated by the morning. Dana and Frank headed to the office, and I remained at home, attempting to make a new culinary creation, the apricot cheesecake!
Once in my car, my radio station announcer informed me of all the 'wrecks' that were preventing the flow of traffic. This report lasted for the duration of my journey, and most were on the roads that would have been taken by Samantha en-route south! It was a shrewd move on her part to have taken precautions!
"Psst" came the sound from somewhere in the corridor at the office, as I entered the building. I knew it was not my daughter, as she was out of town, and had already called to say that they were seated in the large building, waiting to be called by an officer. I was a little curious as to whom was trying to attract my attention, but decided that they would show themselves when they felt the joke had gone on for long enough.
At around ten fifteen on Tuesday morning, I answered my phone, and was greeted by a very excited voice. "They approved me!", Samantha announced, quite emphatically. "On the spot. He asked a couple of questions, then said he would would approve me. He didn't want any documents, any letters, none of the hundred photos that I had with me!" Last time, I believe, they regretted asking for photographs, as my daughter, the expert photographer, (this is the same daughter who is the expert baker, expert crocheter, etc etc,) took a pile of photographs in 'evidence', and the officer was
somewhat overwhelmed! She said that he had looked through her rather thick file, and had no doubt that she was acceptable. Apparently, after 'approving' her, he asked a few more questions, which he said he had forgotten to ask, but were necessary to complete the protocol, but this only went to confirm (to us) that it was just a formality, and she had been 'approved', prior to her visit. Finally, after twelve years of living in Austin, and eleven years of 'going through the process', she was given the status "Unconditional Permanent Resident". It had become one of those scenario's where, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen to her! It was time to put that behind her, and she was in excellent spirits!
I swam at lunchtime, expecting the water to be somewhat cooler, due to the heavy rain, and a dramatic drop in temperature, but although it was only in the mid 70's around midday, the water was quite warm.
After coffee with Joe, and a trip to the radio station to collect another set of tickets, (oh how I love Austin!) I headed back to the office. It was raining quite hard, again, and I wondered if I was going to be able to swim. As I entered the building, I heard the familiar sound of "Psst". A young child, who had slipped out of the speech therapists room, on the way to the restroom, looked up at me. Wondering whether she had been the 'joker', but thinking that it was not probable, as she was not always present, I said "Hello". She seemed a little shy, and ran away! However, she skipped back again as I opened the door to my office and I heard a sharp intake of breath as she caught sight of what was behind the door. I have not taken down some of the decorations that had been put up for my birthday, two years ago, and I have stars and butterflies suspended from the ceiling tiles, as well as some balloons that still have a modicum of helium in them, at least enough to keep them floating somewhat aimlessly, in a corner. The door almost shut, but then stopped, opened slightly for a few seconds, and then closed. It appears that one little girl was rather mesmerised by the spectacle that had previously remained behind closed doors.
After the downpour on Wednesday morning, the clouds disappeared, and the sky returned to the cloudless deep topaz, that we have come to expect in July. I was able to enjoy swimming at lunchtime, and then again in the evening, and managed to read a couple of chapters of my book after my late afternoon dip!
Saturday was very busy. Samantha and I went to the outlet mall, On our way, she told me how the emotional relief had hit her the previous day, and she was finally free from worrying about re-entering the country. Her card had expired two years earlier, and she had been given a letter of authority for a year. When that expired, her passport had been stamped, and that, too, was coming up to expiring. Her experience at the airport had been harrowing to say the least, as on the other side of the pond, anything other than a 'card' is often questioned. However, with this behind her, she was finally emerging from the ordeal. "There were once two permanent residents in a car", she started. "They were ....us!!!!" We laughed at our own situation, and I continued with the theme. "Two permanent residents were on their way to the mall....", I started, and we laughed again, knowing that this would not be a joke that could be appreciated by others. "How many permanent residents does it take to change a light bulb?" she asked. I shook my head, waiting for the response. "None", she replied, "They let their husbands, the citizens, do it!" We laughed for a long time, and then continued to laugh more, as we knew we were in a world of our own! Even the said citizens, would find it hard to comprehend our relief, despite understanding our joy! We arrived at the mall and managed to secure a few items, before heading back to Walmart, where we completed the week's grocery shopping. As much as I used to enjoy the outlet mall before I lived here, it is now tantamount to torture during the summer, and my patience was not particularly willing to oblige! I was delighted to return home and take up my weekend spot on the lounger. I do realise how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be 'on vacation' each Saturday afternoon, during the summer months!
Dana and I went out to dinner on Saturday evening, to a restaurant we had not yet been. It was Oriental in style, but not what we have come to call traditional. The meat is cooked and served separately to the salad or vegetables, which are brought out prior to the main course. Their method of cooking is promoted as 'healthy' (a word that I have come to despise; perhaps I will write about it one day) and they suggest that it is not necessarily the food that is bad, but the way in which it is cooked! It was rather delicious! We were the only people in the restaurant at 7:30, and it was shortly after we received our plate full of 'greens', that another young couple arrived. Seated directly behind us, which was not a problem, but a little odd considering that the large area was completely unoccupied, they looked at their menus. Suddenly, the young man stood, walked around to the young lady's side of the table, got down on his knees, and proposed! "Psst"! I said to Dana, and shook his arm. It was now his turn to jump. "What!" he said, rather louder than I expected. We watched as the young man presented his ladylove with a ring, and her reaction as she studied the 'beautiful' bauble, before announcing, "Yes!". We applauded and congratulated them. Dana was asked to be official photographer at the table, and he duly obliged. Before we left, (and by now many more seats were taken,) we went to their table, congratulated them again, and I asked to see the 'beautiful' ring, (which it was) which the 'bride to be' was delighted to show. It had turned into the most beautiful and romantic evening!
Sunday morning came around, again, and the last day of the weekend stormed ahead. As is common practice, my husband and I chatted about many things, including the running of our business and how he is still so delighted we moved from downtown. "Have you noticed the new air fresheners?", he asked, quite innocently. "Do you have them in the girls' restroom? They are also in the hallway. Darnedest thing, first time I saw it was when it made a noise and I thought someone was trying to get my attention. It made a 'psst' sound!" I looked at him, displaying many emotions. Confusion, annoyance, embarrassment, etc! "Yes!", I said, not willing to impart any more.
I am sure I will let everyone know, when I compose myself, and am strong enough for the ridicule that I will probably receive, that I was sure someone was playing a cruel trick on me, and hiding around every corner that existed in my arena!
It does now appear that my next claim to fame will not be as soon as I had anticipated. The hidden cameras, it would seem, are not out to capture my reaction to strange noises, and as I have no intention of applying to be a contestant in any of the current, or future, reality programmes, I shall not be materialising on any television screens in the near (or probably) distant future. I shall continue to be vigilant and spurn all unwanted advances made by random air fresheners! I shall, also, in the meantime, await the call from a Hollywood mogul, to tell me that my face will be the next one to launch a thousand ships (although to where, is the question!) but I am rather confident that will never be ............. another story!