Alice, Beth, American Flag Socks & A Carte de Visite CatTuesday, February 26, 2008
I have written here before how with web communications I am tying the loose ends of my life. I am able, almost all of the time, to answer successfully to myself, "I wonder what happened to so and so? What became of him or her?"
At one time you lived in a neighbourhood or barrio. When you moved in you planted small fruit trees and perhaps an oak sapling. Then time, family stability and the fact most of us used to stay where we were born enabled us to watch the trees grow.
I find it amazing as I look out of my living room window, beyond the top of this monitor I am writing on, to see the Ginkgo biloba soar over our garage. It almost seems yesterday that we planted it as a sapling. We moved in, in 1986 and the tree must have gone into the ground around 1990. Time has passed and the trees that have survived and the trees that have died in our garden are reminders of how time is inexorable in its march forward. There is a little brass cat in our entrance hall that reminds me of the distant past and a not so distant one.
It was around 1972 that I was teaching Spanish at the Universidad Iberoamericana a Jesuit university in Mexico City. I remember the first day of that year's class which were mostly college students from the US. One of my students was a petite long-haired young girl with American Flag socks. She needled me with questions and never accepted anything as fact. I immediately took an interest in her. Thanks to her the class was a spirited class. Halfway through the term I would organize a weekend trip to Guanajuato, in the State of Guanajuato. We would rent a couple of VW beetles and with our own VW we would go as a caravan. Here you see the class outside the Iglesia de la Valenciana.
In the front row second from the left you can spot my wife Rosemary and our eldest daughter Ale. To her left you can spot Beth the girl who liked to wear American Flag socks. She hailed from Dubuque, Iowa and insisted it was not at all like Podunk. I gave her the nickname of Alice as even though she was childlike in appearance she acted like the intelligent adult Alice Liddell had been as a child.
We corresponded for many years and somehow never lost touch. I found out about her love for a Colombian neurologist. Beth went to marry him in Colombia and they then returned to establish a practice in Florida. Meanwhile Beth had shifted her interest in ballet to Tai Chi and became an instructor. She had two sons.
Perhaps some 13 years ago she came to Vancouver with her husband who was attending a conference of neurologists. When I saw her she seemed to be physically very fit and she matter of factly told me she could demolish me in a few swoops and kicks. I did not try to prove her right. She visited us at the Thursday Railway Club get together with my friends and brought me a gift.
It was a brass cat used as a repository for cartes de visite. It has been in our front hall all these years and it has reminded me that I had lost touch with Beth and I had no idea what had happened to her.
Yesterday afternoon I found her. Beth had left an on-line presence by having thanked a real estate agent for services rendered. That was enough for me and I then Skyped her!
Beth has grown up and she is now Elizabeth. She lives alone as her relationship faltered. She is a virtual nun. My only conclusion is that the men in her neighbourhood must all be blind.
I look forward to getting further news from Elizabeth and the hopes that she will lose her habit (the nunnery one) and get a life. She deserves one.