One of the really great things about this tour has been seeing folks I hardly ever get to visit. And with M along, it’s also been a great sharing experience … I’ve been meeting her friends along the way, and she’s been meeting mine.
Durham turned out to be a real milestone in that department.
The reading was in the afternoon, at a Barnes & Noble at a spacious mall. In spite of the warm, sunny weather and the ridiculous 3 p.m. start time (honest, on a Saturday?), there were a good 15 people who came for the reading then hung out for a really long and invigorating Q&A.
Among them was our host, Rosa Perlemuter, a fine Sor Juana scholar and writer herself, who had us stay in her beautiful and cozy home for the night then treated us to an exquisite breakfast the next morning.
But first – oh yes – M and I travelled to Rockingham, North Carolina, immediately after the reading to visit my 94 year-old Tía Olga.
Growing up, Tía Olga was the saucy, liberal aunt – and the one relative you appealed to if you were in deep, deep trouble. (Of course, if you were in trouble with her, you were beyond screwed.)
When we arrived at her sweet little bungalow, she welcomed us with open arms. Showing M pix of her late husband, the urbane Alberto, she said, “Dated him for three years, and no cuchi cuchi.” M’s eyes almost popped out of her head. Except that my aunt was now pointing to her wedding pix. “See? No bra.”
Oh, it went on. We had dinner at the Peking Wok, where apparently the whole world knows her, and she explained to M how homosexuals are still people to her.
The best part? At evening’s end, after she’d asked us to stay longer cuz she was having such a good time, she tried to pay for her copy of Ruins, which we refused, then tried to give us gas money. M finally took it, then left it in the bathroom.
“I’m glad to have met you,” she said, gazing up at a much, much taller M. “You’re someone I would like to have as a friend.”
Growing up, all of cousins were always grateful to have Tía Olga as our friend.