The situation my children and I find ourselves in has definite ties to the U.K. I know just enough now to realize they are strange to some extent but not enough to understand exactly what they mean (although I do have my suspicious about some of them), so I will simply set down a record of what I know and let wiser heads than mine prevail.
I was originally introduced to the man I later married by his roommates, who were classmates of mine. One of these roommates was from an East Coast military family with far-right political leanings. He was intelligent and hard-working, managing to complete a difficult double major by staying on for only one additional year at college.
This guy was also one of my future husband's closest friends. He and I were both invited to visit the Texas Hill Country home and ranch of my future husband's family often, and we all spent many happy hours here hiking, hunting, fishing, and exploring. The friend had a steady girlfriend who came with us when she could. After they graduated, the two of them got married, and my future husband and I helped with their wedding reception.
My husband's friend got a job with a major Houston company that had business interests around the globe. Almost immediately, his company began sending him to all sorts of exotic foreign locales: Africa, the Middle East, and Russia, to name a few. Often these trips were for extended periods of time and involved living under rather primitive conditions.
Eventually, this man tired of the demands of this job, quit, and went back to school to obtain a master's degree in a third field. Unfortunately, the long periods away from home had taken a toll on his marriage, and he and his wife divorced shortly after my husband and I married.
After graduate school, the friend accepted a job overseas with a major oil company. He was based in London and rented a small house there but continued to travel much of the time all over the world.
Because he and my husband were such good friends, they kept in close contact. The friend loved and missed Texas, so my husband and father-in-law helped him locate and purchase a ranch in South-Central Texas, both as an investment and also as a vacation spot. The friend seemed to be involved in other real estate deals with my father-in-law as well, because he'd often come into our town suddenly and briefly for some sort of meetings that I was told involved the signing of real estate documents.
During his frequent travels, the friend met a stewardess who worked the Dallas-London route for American Airlines. He fell hard for her, and they began a serious relationship that lasted several years. At one point, we all went on a short group vacation to Cozumel together, where I was able to get to know the girlfriend a little. Another time, my husband and I spent several very enjoyable days visiting the friend at his home in London. His girlfriend was working but managed to spend a little time with us. As she packed to leave, she mentioned to me that because she flew back and forth so frequently, she was well-known to all the customs and security agents. She said they always waved her on through without checking her or her bags, and she laughingly bragged that she could take anything she wanted in or out of either country without anyone knowing.
At some point, I found out the friend had begun investing in land in the Czech Republic. He apparently had been buying up large amounts of farmland and spending considerable time visiting there. When I tried to find out more about this, he would only say land was cheap there and he believed it was a good investment.
The friend was later transferred to Scotland, and his relationship with the stewardess ended. He met a Scottish lass whose father and brother were both sailors. Eventually, the two of them married, had children, and bought a house in the country outside Edinburgh. The friend continued to travel much of the time, spending extended periods in Siberia, China, and the Far East.
My husband and I enjoyed a couple of nice visits with the two of them before my husband suddenly left me in 1999. By the last of these visits, the friend said he'd left the big oil company and was now working as a consultant for them and others out of a Scottish office that was owned by a wealthy Houston businessman the friend would never name to me. He also first offered to show me around his office and then abruptly changed his mind for some reason.
One night during that last visit of mine, the friend got a phone call very late at night from two men he worked with who were coming over to talk to him about some sort of business that was never made clear to me. The weather that night was stormy, and the men arrived well after midnight and soaking wet. The three of them went into another room, had a brief meeting, and then they left without even being introduced to me. The whole thing seemed strange.
After we split up, my ex-husband remained in close touch with his friend and at one point took our children over to Scotland to visit him. My kids came back from this visit saying the friend and his wife had been fighting the whole time they were there. Sure enough, the two of them soon ended their marriage as well.
I've now lost track of this friend, but I hear he still shows up briefly and unexpectedly in our town from time to time to visit with my ex-husband and his father. I believe he continues to travel all over the world as well.