Monday, August 30, 2004

An afternoon with

Evilena. That's what my friend Jayel would call her - a woman who's got men wrapped around her finger. I used to doubt his theory, but then over the weekend I hooked up with my old friend Len, who has one man wrapped around each finger. I feel that the name is a misnomer, because while we would all love to have men wrapped around our fingers, who'd want to be called an Evilena? Well, Jayel and his friend must have been just a wee bit bitter when they came up with their theory.

But that's beside the point. You see, Len's the one who introduced me to Miguel's dad. Like me she's a single mom. We hadn't seen each other in 3 years, so when she dropped by out of the blue to ask for some help, you can imagine we had a lot of catching up to do.

So there we were, two mature women, respective sons in tow, swapping stories about lovelives (and almost-lovelives) over cafe moccha and frappucino at Starbucks. Though Miguel devoured his cinnamon roll in earnest, I could tell that he was listening, so we had to be careful. Observing him, Len said that he looks like me. Everyone in the family says that he looks like me, but I find it more objective coming from her. After all, I can see so much of his dad in him, in a physical sense. I told her about the D word, and Len reminded me that "I still have them," and did I want them?


She was talking about the letters - and flowers - that his dad sent for me and Miguel when I was pregnant. I was touched when I heard that; I had forgotten. I also have a bunch of letters that he sent to the house (and everywhere else besides) while I was away, which I kept. Only because it's physical proof for Miguel that his dad loves him, something that I've never doubted anyway. (Well, raising him is a different matter.) I asked her if she could keep the letters a bit longer. I wasn't ready. And I know where to find them.

Len and I had a lot more to talk about, but having the kids along, it became more of a mother-and-son day for us. Maybe just as well. Instead of recalling our old highjinks, the afternoon found us in the arcade whacking spiders, tossing balls, and watching metal orbs go down chutes. It was Miguel's first time in an arcade, and he enjoyed collecting the tickets that the machines spat out at him. Heck, even I enjoyed that part. When it was time to exchange the tickets for a prize, Len's son gave one of his to Miguel. He's generous, just like his mom.

After an hour or so it was time to go. It was both strange and familiar being in touch with a past that I had abandoned. At one point I joked that my family might be worried that Len and I were together again, Evilena plus her Evilena-in-training. I know that they blame Len for introducing me to Miguel's dad, but let's face it: if it weren't for her I wouldn't have my son.

Any way I look at it, I could never be ambivalent about meeting up with Len. Perhaps one day she will provide the gaps in my history when the time comes for Miguel to "confront" his dad.

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