By Tiffanie Drayton
On the day of college graduation, I told my friends and family the news: I was leaving the country I had lived in since childhood.
“I just need a change,” I told them, but they knew there was more. Was it some romance gone awry, they wondered? Some impulsive response to a broken heart? And I was running from heartbreak. My relationship with the United States of America is the most tumultuous relationship I have ever had, and it ended with the heart-rending realization that a country I loved and believed in did not love me back.
Back in the ’90s, my mother brought me from our home in the Caribbean islands to the U.S., along with my brother and sister. I was 4 years old. She worked as a live-in nanny for two years, playing mommy for white kids whose parents had better things to do. She took trips to the Hamptons and even flew on a private jet to California as “the help.” My mom didn’t believe that nanny meant maid, but she did whatever was asked of her, because she was thirsty. She had a thirst that could only be quenched by the American dream. One day, she thought, her children would be educated. One day, they might have nannies of their own.