AND she went to the states to look for a husband. She was the CEO of the ICT titanic BayanTrade, and had everything we thought we could ever equate “the life” to. But something was amiss, and there was a gaping void in her life.
“I felt burned out because I didn’t have someone at home to comfort me, to go home to, someone to enjoy life with me,” she said. “I didn’t have someone to whom to tell ‘Uy, this is what happened to me this morning.’ I was just sleeping and managing, day in and day out. I wasn’t happy.”
Carol had separated from her husband and was single for 21 years before going to America, all that time she was dating and suitors, whom she described as either “philandering husbands or young hopefuls or unconfirmed bachelors,” were camping at her doorstep. “But in the Philippines,” said Carol, “it was difficult to find [an ideal partner], especially because, at my age, all the good ones were already taken.”
Carol had two previous marriages, one with whom she had children and another a whirlwind romance she described as a huge two-year misstep. In the US more than 50 percent of people are divorced, and estranged couples either renew their ways of partnership or they find new partners. “So in America there will always be available men at my age,” she said, and she found ways of meeting and mingling (the Internet being the place to go, where “you don’t have to be restrained by the people you meet”).
Really, how many people do you meet in a day? On the Internet it is limitless, at least as far as Carol is concerned, and before she knew it, she was clicking away and lost in volumes of single men’s online profiles and then more profiles. “In fact, there is a dating site called Ourtime.com, which is for seniors—55 plus. And it has so many successes. I feel that, right now—and this was a part of my talk in the international ICT Summit—dating sites are more narrowly focused, so that the rate of success is better because the compatibility is built-in.” In Carol’s case, her sister uploaded her profile onto a virtual chat roulette and was matched to an American businessman, Bill Colborn, as “86-percent compatible.”
“[Bill] was my second try. I divorced my first American husband because we’re not compatible. When Bill and I met and married, he sold his business so that we can travel.” Carol and Bill’s first idea was to travel the world teaching English. They tested the waters in Taiwan, where Bill has a friend. But, to have a working visa, say in Taiwan teaching English, they had to work four days a week, which was not good because it spelled being left with measly three days a week to travel.
“So, on the long way home to America from Taiwan, we discussed what we’re going to do. And he gave the idea of RV [recreational vehicle]. Because RV-ing is the American dream for Americans,” she said. “Their dreams are to be free and to have untethered and mobile lives—to be free from all ties and just roam the land because America is a very big land.”
Thus her first book: Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream (iUniverse, 2015, 178 pages), where the Filipino recounted a story of “retirement,” immigration, love and an in-between extensive bucket list of having crisscrossed the breadth and length of North America four times in a cruising lifestyle—on an RV.
“Traveling is where you experience both extremes of a relationship. Especially on the RV; maliit kasi ang RV. They said there’s no room for disagreement because it’s too small. But that’s not true; there is a lot of room for disagreement because it’s too small,” she said.
Sometimes, it’s so easy to leave each other well enough alone, to lock herself in one room and he in the other, “but you can’t do that in traveling because you should maximize the time looking around at places and you have to be together.”
Or perhaps because now she knows what being a wife means. “Being a wife means—and I finally learned it only after the third try—that you and your partner should meet in the middle. There are things you can let go and things that you cannot. I read in a book that 69 percent of your problems as partners cannot be resolved because you’re different. But it’s a matter of living together.”
When, once, she found that Bill was chatting online with his former college sweetheart, “Before, I was like: ‘Ah, ganyan ka? Iwan kita!’” But Carol stuck. She had marooned her previous two husbands on petty things, she was feisty and the type you cannot push around, “but Bill made me stay.”
“We learned how to get over such things. And I learned that at what age? 65!” she enthused. But Carol is going to live to 90 or to a hundred or maybe forever. After all, at 67, there are more bucket lists to fulfill, books to write; Bill said they still can have their 30th anniversary as people get married at 80 in America anyway.
“Bill is not a perfect husband,” Carol said. “But I made a choice, finally, that I am a wife.”