Disclaimer: I used basic online translators for the Spanish language parts of this piece. If you see any errors in the language – please leave the corrections in the comments below so that I can fix them promptly. Thank you for your readership, as it is very valuable to me!
It is not often that my girlfriend texts me and asks me to meet her at her place. I do know where she lives, but we only go there once or twice a month, and only ever briefly. She never moved out of her apartment after college, so it is small and the building is full of rambunctious teenagers and twenty-somethings.
I suspect that she stays because she wants to observe the people and silently diagnose them. On more than one occasion I’ve seen her buy cards and random gifts which fit neither her nor my interests. And the good Lord knows that she is not buying them for her brother – although, she would buy him the world if he would let her.
My phone is ringing as I get up the first flight of stairs; the screen reads “Celeste.” She must have it timed perfectly – the drive from my house to hers – and probably has instructions for me. I answer the phone with a smile on my face, as I always do where Celeste is concerned; “Qué le tu necesita mi amor?”
“I just need someone to sit on my couch with me and eat tres leches.” I should have supposed as much. Celeste told me that her brother had requested her audience at his office. Occasionally he will ask for her second opinion. I do not know why he does since she never disagrees with his professional suggestions. But my Celeste – oh she is a wise woman – she believes that he does it to reaffirm himself and to keep in contact with her. She sees it as an act of love and respect. Franklin could call from Antartica and tell her that he wants her to come die with him, but she would do it. Celeste will always go to him.
This is one of the many reasons that I love her.
“I can do that. Tres leches and a movie, si?” I know that she is probably nodding her head on the other end of our connection, but I will never know for sure. Typically she hangs up once a message has been conveyed. One of her many flaws, but flaws that are not necessarily bad. We never have the problem where we have spoken so much on the phone that we have nothing to say in person. We connect very much when we are face-to-face. Our relationship is better because of it.
Once inside I open her refrigerator and find that – per the usual – she has next to nothing in it. A carton of six eggs, half a galleon of milk, a saran wrapped tuna melt – probably from the sandwich place up the road… and it looks like some leftovers from a restaurant but its pushed all the way to the back. Presumably Celeste has forgotten about them, meaning it’s been at least a month – if not more. I’ll throw it out for her in the morning when I also take her trash to the dumpster.
Since there’s nothing much to drink I stroll to her bedroom where she keeps a small wine cooler in her closet. She is always stocked on Merlot and Moscato. I grab the Merlot closest to the top and return to the kitchen with ease. I suppose that Celeste will be coming through the front door soon so I may as well have a couple of glasses poured and waiting on the coffee table when she returns.
“I wonder what movie we should watch…” I trail off in thought, figuring that we should watch something uplifting or exciting. There’s a small case by the television that holds all of her DVDs, so I peruse it in hopes of finding fitting for the evening. Unfortunately, this woman only owns documentaries and psychological thrillers. Nothing about her selection is happy.
Since I can’t find anything, I figure that I can probably just pull up something up using her cable service. Isn’t it called Pay-per-view? Or On-demand? I can’t really remember what it’s called, but I do know how to use her system so after making myself comfortable on the couch I start scanning the options available.
There are a number of comedies. Some of them are romantic comedies – one is about a girl is struggling in her career and some narcissistic jerk helps her out while discovering himself that he’s not so bad? That seems pretty good but not at all realistic. Or at least Celeste would say that – she loathes romantic comedies. I like them, but I don’t plan on telling her.
I also find horror films, action films, and some sappy book-to-film adaptations. Unfortunately, none particularly stand out to me as being good. For this reason, I put on the Food Network channel. It is a show about cooking Mexican food, ironically enough. This episode focuses on…
“Tres leches! One of the best Mexican deserts you can enjoy! Estoy en lo cierto?” The crowd starts whooping over the speakers as the host repeats her last sentence in English, Am I right? Of course she’s right – tres leches isn’t just the best Mexican desert that you can consume but also the best all-time desert that there is to enjoy. If prepared properly, it can satisfy all of your senses. That is precisely why Celeste fills herself with tres leches after a difficult day.
During the first commercial, Celeste finally arrives home. Later than I’d initially anticipated, clearly. She walks to the counter and works through her usual routine, only after placing the tres leches container on the counter. Off comes the petticoat, then her blazer, the button up; she slides her belt out and drops it atop her car keys; she finishes by walking to the sink and slashing her face with warm water.
And, as I expected, she starts complaining very rapidly in Spanish: “Este mundo es un asco! No puedo vivir en este planeta! Por qué existen esas cosas horribles! Este trabajo es la tristeza! Esta vida es la tristeza!”
This world is a mess!
I cannot live on this planet!
Because there are such horrible things!
This job is sadness!
This life is sadness!
It is all I can do to avoid getting upset myself, so I walk her to the couch and offer her a glass of Merlot. Celeste throws the glass back.
And then another…
And then another…
By the fifth glass I set my own down – untouched – and ask her to please tell me what has happened. At first she complains in Spanish again, “Le gente es mala! Muy malo!” It is not wrong, of course, because people are very bad every single day. That is why she has a job, though, and it surprises me to see her distressed over such a simple truth.
But I dare not to question her motives for this and instead ask if I can help her. Silence sits between us while she ensures that the bottle of Merlot will not have a single drop remaining by night’s end. Glass after glass, sigh after sigh, and before long – sobbing cannot be delayed any longer.
Celeste jostles about and nearly loses her current serving of the red wine. Tears smear her make-up, too, in the most unappealing way. The dark circles and streaks resemble something children wear on Día de Muertos and it is frightening. Even though I have these negative thoughts, I try not to compromise my supportive role and remain patient. Celeste will tell me when she is ready to tell me.
After nearly half an hour listening to Celeste cry, occasionally having to take her Merlot away so that it doesn’t spill, it seems that she calms down enough to just lay on my lap. Delicately I place a hand over her shoulder and figure I can try to start a casual conversation again.
“What would you like to watch?”
Celeste must have been waiting for me to speak because now she goes off on a tirade. Or well, not really a tirade because her concerns are legitimate. Today her brother asked her to see a child who was displaying severe signs of depression and that she was already very suicidal, in spite of her lack of self harm. The reason is because her parents are intersex individuals – intersex lesbians specifically.
As an educated woman, she finds that it is a nasty thing that the world would want to hurt a child who has great parents that love her very much. In her heart she can see no reason why there would be a problem with this child’s parents and their relationship with on another. And yet, there is a problem.
“I want to make a difference! I want to change the world so that this little girl will never be sad again. Yo quiero ser un héroe.”
I don’t think she has to worry, though. Celeste doesn’t know what “too much work” means, so I just tell her that she is already hero to her many patients and to her family. I choose remind her that she can still do something by bringing awareness in anyway that she can manage so that people can become more accepting of what is different. At that exact moment she takes the remote from me. Celeste puts on the History Channel, and it’s a documentary about Word War II.
“If este demonio can convince an entire country that a group of people sol malos, then I am certainly capable of convincing an entire country that a group of people no son malos. Nadie mi puede parar.” This much is true. Nobody has ever been able to convince Celeste to stop pursuing something in which she believed. Another thing that makes me love her so very much! After she takes a breath, I twist slightly so that I may kiss her but she tips away. Clearly tired and buzzed from all the drinking that she’s done, Celeste lays down on the couch, propping her feet on my lap.
Tonight, this is how we will sleep.
And tomorrow, we will both be late for work.