Who Find Each Other at the Worse Possible Time
After two days of my own sob story, I am now feeling better. Thank you for your comments and advice wishing me well and spurring me on.
It's time to get back to the 2nd installment of what will probably be a 4 or 5 part short story. I advise you to scroll down to read Part 1 first if you have not done so already; otherwise part 2 may not make much sense. And please keep in mind that this is a work of fiction. My love for these two characters is exceeded only by my imagination.
Her name is Isabelle. She immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when she was 24 to work as a trauma nurse in New York. She dated her American husband for seven years, who she met in Manila while he was a Peace Corps volunteer, before she finally became impatient and asked him to marry her. She told me all this in calm detail, using her hands to emphasize a point here and there, speaking with an impeccable English accent that had a rolling soothing foreign quality to it, and she more often than not laughed right along with me at her colorful descriptions of events and people.
“My Father and Mother raised eight children” she said. “I have five sisters and two brothers. One of my sisters is a doctor and another a lawyer. My brother John is a genius. They are all very intelligent and successful. My father was a photographer. We were poor. We had two maids and drivers. And my mother would share our food and help anyone who deserved and needed help.”
“How could you have maids and drivers and be poor?” I asked.
“That is how it is in the Philippines.” she said.
“What about you?” she asked me. “Tell me about your family. Where did you go to college? Why do you hate airports?”
Isabelle and I talked for two hours with few breaths in between. She told me her co-workers call her Isabella, her family and friends call her Isabelle and two of her sisters and her blogger friends call her Izzy. By the time I left her at Gate 43, I knew she was a Nurse who wrote medical protocols for a group of hospitals . I knew she was an artist who painted with a palette knife on weekends. I knew she was a terrible dinner companion.
Just after I ordered a chicken and vegetable wrap and fries at the airport version of Chili’s restaurant, she looked at me very solemnly.
“Casey”, she said, “You should not order vegetables in restaurants. It is not sanitary. Even at home I wash and scrub all my vegetable before I feed them to my family. I wash and scrub all the fruit too. Then I wrap them in plastic and put them in the refrigerator”
I didn’t know what to say. I wondered if the unusual image of my chicken and vegetable wrap scrubbed from one end to another and then encased from top to bottom in plastic would affect my appetite.
One week after I left her at gate 43 in Dallas, I received the following email.
“Dear Casey, Do you remember me? Have you been avoiding vegetables in restaurants and scrubbing your vegetables and fruit at home? Do you have a blog I can leave a comment on? I don’t know why I am thinking of you, but it seems you have captured my interest. Perhaps we could be penpals. I love pens and have quite a collection of them. It is a shame that writing letters is a dying custom. Please do not feel an obligation to respond similarly.
Two days later I began my own blog. The process took all of ten minutes and that included the time I needed to understand that I would write or share whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, and anybody who knew about me could leave comments, which I could then respond to by way of my own comments. Once I was satisfied with the overall appearance of the blog space I entitled, “I Really Don’t Care” , I sent the following email to Izzy:
“Hello there. I was surprised and pleased to hear from you. On your recommendation I have set up my own blog. I have no idea what I will write about but if you will kindly comment, I will find my way to your blog. For your information, I resent that I now think about sanitary conditions when I eat an apple. And I would be happy to give pen pal-ing a try. I am a writer after all. We can write about how disgusted we are with George W and perhaps lament about the state of the world. I do not know when I will be in Dallas again but if I am, maybe we can find a germ free restaurant to have lunch again.
It took all of five minutes to receive the following response:
”Dear Casey, I will not discuss George W with you unless you are willing to admit to the uneducated and uniformed arguments put forth by the Democrats. I contributed the maximum of $ 2100 in both of President Bush’s campaigns. I should have known you were a liberal. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
This began a string of spirited correspondences that ranged from the very mundane to the mostly innocuous to the highly charged political. Over the next two months, I learned that although Izzy worked full time, her spiel about leading a quiet life of service as a wife and mother was as accurate as her creative fire and conservative passion. She was normally quite good natured about preparing dinner every night for her 4 person family. She handled the family laundry and household chores in the same way: often she conveyed an enthusiasm, if not peaceful acceptance, for the vexing tasks of life. I wondered where she got her energy.
By month three we were talking by phone. That in itself was a federal story. We were like high schoolers deciding who should call who first. Izzy and I had become pretty comfortable in our blogging and emailing. We were writing eachother long letters and sharing petty little details about ourselves that nobody else would have given a damn about.
She finally made the first call on a Sunday morning. I was as surprised and calmed by her serene accent as I was back at the Dallas airport. She still laughed vigorously at her own stories. Sometimes the two of us were laughing so hard we couldn't talk for a long minute or more. Sometimes we were zig zagging from one topic to another before one of us noticed two hours had passed.
For two women who had no history of chatting aimlessly and endlessly to anyone else at any time on any telephone, this was nothing short of a major life change.
"Izzy", I'd say. "How come we have so much to talk about?"
"Well-l-l-l", she'd respond,as though she was going to think about it but instead, one second later, she'd reply, "Anyway...Casey, tell me a story".
And I would.
I found Izzy's positive attitude and indeflatable energy level so contrary to my own. Maintaining her attitude about chores and responsibilities was clearly beyond my reach. I bitched while she accepted. She painted on weekends--glorious artwork borne from a skilled hand and deep emotion that was anything but weekendish.
She did not have a fancy studio or space of her own. Instead she painted from a corner of her family room and completed chores, prepared meals, and did laundry in between. Interruptions didn't phase her. She never missed a beat in the animated observations and opinions that she spilled forth among me on the phone and her children and husband in front of her.
I was only slightly surprised when Izzy told me she was opposed to gun control, immigration amnesty, and most government programs, but I was floored when she told me that the evidence for global warming was not conclusive.
“You should read the Drudge Report”, she finally said. "The top scientists who do not agree about global warming are denied funding." She paused.
I sputtered. "You can't be serious."
"Do you know how old the earth is, Casey?”
“It is 4.5 billion years old. Why are we overreacting now?”
To be continued......