Erin has to find purpose in life after her parents destroy her life.
|Erin, the good girl, did what her parents said to do.
In 1988, Erin wanted to stay with Andy, her boyfriend who loved her.
"If you weren't going back to Canada, would you marry me?" Andy asked.
"Yes," said Erin, who tried to stay in England.
Erin got a job and a place to live with reduced rent for being house mother. Erin had a welcoming religious community and academic community. The job would have been a good career with paid training.
"We want you to come home to Canada to go to university," said her mother and her step-father. So she did.
Erin cried when she left Andy, and she cried when she left Imogen, the two year old baby she'd cared for during her year in England.
Erin had to work to put herself through school and good jobs were hard to find.
School was hard to juggle with part-time work and Erin wasn't allowed to take German, or the French class she wanted, because her step-father insisted she must do sciences even though the only science she could do was mathematics. So she got Bs in mathematics, except Combinatorics, and she took easy electives like logic to raise her grade point average. Erin did what her parents told her to do although Erin paid the bills.
In 1990, Andy tried to visit but ended up being scammed into illegal employment in the United States. The advertisement had said he would work in Boston and have a month of vacation time to enjoy in his visa, however, in reality, he worked 80 hours per week with no vacation time. So Andy called Erin from Boston, and Erin couldn't afford to go visit.
In 1991, Erin decided she wanted to be a teacher. Her parents immediately reacted negatively, saying she'd be bored and needed to find a more interesting career for her bright mind. So Erin didn't get the qualification but never found what else she'd like to do. She thought being a math teacher would be great.
That's when Erin's boyfriend, Rami, got Erin pregnant. Erin wanted to have the baby but Rami didn't, the doctor didn't, the councellor called the baby an it. Erin's mother said abortion was the right idea and only Erin's step-father said she could make her own choice, but there was no support for the baby. Erin would have to drop out of university with her grade 10 education and try to find a job and baby-sitters. Erin asked if she could have the baby and give it up for adoption. Her mother said no. The councellor said no. The doctor said no. So Erin aborted her only baby.
Only Andy had loved Erin. Erin's mother had said she'd find love again, but she didn't. That experience wasn't love.
In 1993, Andy called to say he was getting married. Erin cried. She couldn't help it in her shock. Erin hadn't told Andy about the baby. Andy hung up the phone and stopped answering letters, preferring to be left alone to enjoy his new life.
1994, Erin graduated with her BSc in mathematics, upon her grade 10. She had really wanted to finish high school first because she believed it would have helped her do well in university, but her parents pushed her into university because she had passed the six entrance examinations. Teaching was still the only thing Erin could think of doing and her parents wouldn't let her, so she went to graduate school looking for alternative ways to work a career from a mathematics degree.
In 1994 to 1996, Erin was harassed and lied about at graduate school, and in the end didn't finish the MSc thesis although all the course work was done. Erin's sisters needed help surviving in life so at her parents' request, Erin helped them. And every Christmas, Erin gave gifts to the family but received nothing but a long distance phone call as an afterthought. "We forgot to get you a gift," her parents said.
In 2004, Erin moved to Taiwan. It took a few months to sink in. Nobody was telling Erin what to do. Erin's time and money were her own. In 2003, Erin had negotiated her parents' divorce because her step-father had been too violent with her mother. Erin got cats, and nobody told her not to. The cats loved her and Erin felt filled with happy purpose each day. She enjoyed her job and her savings - she was teaching English in Peng Hu - and she wanted to stay for 30 years.
Erin shouldn't have left Peng Hu. Leaving Peng Hu is the only bad decision Erin made by herself. She is still teaching English and mathematics to Asian children, but the job's best working and living conditions were in Peng Hu. Erin couldn't keep the cats when she couldn't find a job in 2012. Thankfully the cats went to the SPCA in Canada rather than being electrocuted in Taiwan (as, in Taiwan, they electrocute stray, homeless animals). It broke Erin's heart again.
In 2020, Erin's mother bought Erin a place to live, a home to call her own. Had she been a certified mathematics teacher in Canada, she'd have been able to buy one for herself. But never look the gift horse in the mouth. Erin expressed thankfulness for the home instead of resentment for the lost career. The home has a no pet policy, so Erin can't get a couple of cats. So now Erin lives alone wondering what went wrong, how did being a good girl turn into such a loveless disaster.
"You were supposed to love her," Erin can hear Andy saying to her parents through the ether.
"Life is over, I just want it to end now," said Erin to Wendy, one of her friends. "I'm not depressed. It's just that there's no purpose and no joy in life."
"You need to get over the past and find new purpose," said Wendy.
Easier said than done. It's still 2020, and Erin wakes each day in her beautiful home, without cats, without a son, and without Andy. Erin works a mear 10 hours weekly as an English and mathematics teacher because she isn't certified, and she needs to work as an online English teacher... which she doesn't want to do. She is trying to rebuild that happy sense of purpose again.