I met A Tall Drink of Water in Mexico. We both started to teach English at the same school.
It was a colleague’s birthday, and she and I sat next to each other and ate our slices of store-brought cake.
I wrote her off immediately: Tall Drink’s father was in the military, she lived in many different countries and states, and she’s well-versed in the ways of Southerners in the US. She’s blonde with blue eyes. White skin. Her parents are still together and very much in love.
And she didn’t come to Mexico because her husband was deported.
I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Tall Drink right then. I mean, what was this clueless blonde going to teach me about life, right?
For the record, Tall Drink wrote me off as well. She thought that I was a deeply angry New Yorker. The kind of Latina that always dismisses her. This was 2002, and I had an energy coming off of me that was full of prickly burrs and thorns. People were not to be trusted, especially people like her.
There are thousands of stories to tell about her and I. Many of them are not for public consumption. We have fought hard, laughed hard and loved deep.
But what I will tell you all is this: Since I returned to the States, Tall Drink would patiently ask me every phone call about what was going on with my husband’s waiver application, whether I wanted her to ask me or not. She was quietly insistent about putting in the waiver, even when I felt that it was pointless.
During one phonecall, I told her that Picasso and I didn’t have the money to make a down payment for the lawyer that I liked. She called me back a few days later at work to tell me that her parents were going to put down the substantial cash deposit for the immigration lawyer that I liked, so that we could start the waiver process.
Tall Drink also wasn’t the only person in her family to write a letter of support for my husband’s waiver application.
And here I am, eleven years later, getting ready to go out to visit her. It will be the first time for me to see a little bit of her life here in the States. She now lives with her husband and young son on the East Coast.
I was thinking back this morning to the movie in my head of A Tall Drink of Water and I eating the store-brought birthday cake, both of us making quick and deep judgments of each other.
And I’m so proud of where we are now. Drinky, I love you with all of my heart.