Thursday, October 14, 2010

Profile of a Gibraltar Woman: Anna

Anna and Patrick enjoying a coffee
 What struck me first about Anna? Was it the strong Scottish accent or the bright reddish-orange hair? Or perhaps it was the wide-eyed smile I received when I climbed the stairs and poked my head into the Gibraltar Marina the boat had moved to while I was in South Africa called Marina Bay.

Whatever it was, she had it. There are times when certain people have appeared approachable. It’s happened everywhere I’ve gone. Some people naturally have a charisma about them. My friend Kelly has it, and growing up, a friend named Cindy Kowslowsky had it, just to name a few.

In the following days I spent there, Anna and I had several long conversations sharing our stories, at times over drinks or coffee.

Anna was from Gloucester, Scotland. Her Mom had told her the stories of working as a nurse in New Jersey and falling for an Amy man. Her time in the US was over and she had to say goodbye. Once back in Scotland, she found out she was pregnant. All attempts to reach the man failed. It wasn’t until years later that she found out he had been shipped to Vietnam and had not gotten the messages about a daughter named Anna across the sea. This makes her half American although no paperwork proves this. When she was an adult she searched for the biological father and through a series of events, an acquaintance found him at a reunion. He had not known anything and was surprised at the information. He had a family and sadly, he refuses to include Anna in his current life.

Remarried, her Mom and step Dad moved her to Zambia, Africa when she was 10. It was there that she met a group of kids that included a brother and sister that were to become her best friends, the brother however, she had a crush on. Boarding school back in Scotland separated the friends but Anna went on to grow up and, as most kids do; rebel. Especially when her parents moved to Cyprus (the Greek side) and after the freedom of boarding school: “they expected me to be a perfect little Greek girl you see,” she said in her strong accent.

And at 16 she left home. From there it was a time of survival and experiences back in Scotland. She married and had 2 children. But her husband was gone from home a lot and married life was more a lifestyle than a relationship. After several tries, they eventually divorced.

Miracles can happen when she found an online chat group of kids who grew up in Zambia. Someone had typed in “Does anyone know where Anna is?” She typed “It’s me!” and an update message and “within a minute, he was answering me,” she said.

It was him, Patrick, the kid she called her best friend when she was 10, her crush in Zambia.

“He came to visit and I knew, I knew this was my man.”

Life was a bit more complicated, but in the end, they married and are now living in Spain’s side of the Spain/UK line and working in Gibraltar.

“Of course we could use more money, don’t you know, but we have a good life,” she said as if she had no one to convince. “I worry about my job, but we’re happy.”

I sensed that all the life changes and lessons had been learned at a very young age. And going full circle, her childhood crush is now her grown up love. And anyone walking into Marina Bay will get a big smile from Anna.

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