Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Orotava, Part I

Orotava. That was the name of the house, it's name serving as its address since it had no number assigned to it. Manor houses are never given numbers, you know, as they are much too far above such pedestrian things. I gasped in amazement the first time that I saw it, and many times thereafter, truth be told. The imposing stone structure was one of the best examples of Scottish baronial grandeur that one could hope to see, all four stories of it rising above the trees into the cloudy Lowlands sky; it was to be my new home. By some twist of fate, which is really the hand of God, of course, I was sent to this breathtakingly beautiful place which loftily loomed like an illustration from an English fairy tale book. I thought then how improbable it was to find myself there. Thinking back on it now, it seems even more unlikely a thing to have happened than it did at the time. But I am here to tell the tale, and so I shall.

So it was to Orotava that I came at age twenty, with all of the promise and hope of the future ahead of me. I was to be the nanny to an eight year old girl named Martha who, at home, went by the pet name of Mattie. She was a sweet-tempered but very active girl with a very rich imagination, and we became fast friends. She often referred to me in conversation as her nanny, though I preferred to think of myself as a governess: Jane Eyre journeying in Scotland, though Mr. Rochester was nowhere to be found. But one could always hope, couldn't one?

Mattie's parents were a happily-enough-married couple who happened to be a well-known "pop" musician and his wife. They were very easy-going and good-natured, and they made me feel as though I were part of the family. This was certainly not the typical treatment which nannies in novels received, of course, but was much more pleasant after all. The family dog, an enormous Saint Bernard who looked for all the world like Nana of Peter Pan fame, rounded out the household. As luck would have it, the dog and I had the same name, an unfortunate state of affairs which required the family members to call me "Kim, the lady" to differentiate me from "Kim, the dog." A decidedly unromantic detail, I know, but it must be told for the sake of completeness.

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