Character sketches that are fictional but based on real characters, like us.
She seemed perfectly content to sleep in friend’s living rooms, on their couches – a few nights in one place, then switch. She was content to walk everywhere, or hitch a ride when it was offered. She was actually proud of her ability to wander about at night and not get mugged or in trouble. She felt zero obligation to be in school. It was a distraction to the rest of her life. In fact, she so enjoyed being known as “tough” and independent that, to this day, I don’t know why she decided to come home with my daughters. Maybe it was the colder weather and the thought of a bed that could be hers if she wanted it.
Seeing my daughter’s friends at school or youth gatherings I always assumed that they had home lives that were some variation of our own. Not so. I wasn’t aware of how abnormal we were, until meeting people like Evelin and hearing their stories. I seldom heard the parental version. I tried to imagine what I would have done with a girl who went into the garage with a lit candle and ended up setting her motorcycle on fire. Kicking her out probably wouldn’t have been my first remedy, but then again, maybe it wasn’t the first time.
We cleared out an enclosed breezeway and put bunk beds and a dresser next to the sauna. The room had windows and it’s own door to the outside. What more could a tough girl want?
She was quiet, polite and really quite good looking, although I don’t think she knew it. She didn’t try to look beautiful, feeling more comfortable with a style somewhere between grunge and Goth, covering it all with a long man’s raincoat. The coat probably came in handy in her late night wandering. She did have six toes on her feet but you wouldn’t have noticed unless you stopped and counted. Who does that?
Evelin wanted a job for spending money and decided to work the late shift at a fast food joint a good two miles from our house. She was the closer and in charge of spraying the grease off the floors – at 2 am when they shut the drive thru window. It wasn’t a particularly safe area of town and the thought of her walking home at that hour gave me shivers up the spine. I decided to set the alarm and drive down to get her. She hated it. She hated me for “pampering” her and making her soft. How did I know that? She left me a note saying so.
Part of the terms of her residence with us was that she go to school again. She was enrolled at a different school than my daughters were, so afternoons were spent in the car waiting at one school and then the other. We often would wait at Eve’s school until it emptied out and discover that she hadn’t been there.
She was a mystery to me. I think she would have liked knowing that, because maybe being a mystery is as good as being tough. I wouldn’t have guessed she would turn things around and become an architect with two beautiful children, one of whom has six toes on his feet. And that’s another story…