Gardening puts me in the middle of two very different groups of people: those with lots of cash who pepper their conversation with French and those with lots of bills, who speak Spanglish while we work. A late afternoon call from a client of the first group, then a text from worker of the second led to working all night and coming to terms with contrast of our places in the world.
I was cutting the last of the flowers before tonight’s frost when I got the call from a client. Let’s call her Mrs. Devine. She needed me to help entertain some visitors. Not exactly visitors but other employee types like me. People who span the spectrum; employee, entertainer, friend.
Jomm flies south on a private plane to “curate” Mrs. D’s wardrobe. He likes me, I like him. She likes us both. So tonight I was needed me to hang out in an enormous closet, to chat, to keep things lively and make his trip to the boondocks seem fun. He and his new young assistant needed boxes and racks taken from closet to storage. I did that too. Mrs. Devine kept wine flowing, in the closet. She liked the cross pollination as Jomm and I talked about similarities of fashion and gardens; design, textures, colors, fragrance and choreographing peoples experience.
When Jomm and Jill finish presenting their ‘lookbook’ of autumn ensembles, the book of photos and notes is truly needed for such a complex closet, we refill glasses for a stroll the hillside garden. They’d shown me their work, now it was my turn. Jomm appreciates the garden, “its painterly and playful.” But young Jill can’t get past the mosquitoes, the chill nor the plant names. She tries. She tells stories of the glory days of interning at Valentino that somehow led to the best egg dish she’s ever had, “If you’re ever in Marrakesh, you have to try this place….” I switch tactics in trying to engage Jill in the garden. “Listen,” I say, but she doesn’t appreciate the bullfrog chorus. This may be a long evening.
The text saves me from a formal dinner. “!Emergencia!”, Edwardo cries. Switching from wine to coffee, I’m off to a gardener’s trailer to help figure out how to get him and his family back to Mexico fast. What do I say? Buenos? Buenas tardes? Noches? Doesn’t matter. A web search, a lot of phone calls while they pack the mini-van. It’s midnight. We have to drive to the air port in Atlanta. I’m in the middle of a family emergency, in Spanish. Children crying and cousins trying to help. “Yall just load the bags, OK? Where is the baby’s ORIGINAL birth certificate? All the children in the car?” I’ve never asked that question in my life.
Three hours to Atlanta and Delta is amazing. The agent speaks Spanish. I stand back and am proud that Edwardo can handle all of this now. He is the man, the Daddy. He’s barely 21. He looks scared. His first airline ticket purchase, check in, luggage. Even changes to a flight connection go off gracefully. I’ve known him since he was 16. I want him to be proudly in charge of his family. The agent kind of shrieks and they run to the security line. He takes off his shoes, his thick gold necklace, finally his belt. They hold up the line. Then they’re gone.
Well, not all of them. An adventure like this for a young Mexican family means the car was packed with curious cousins. Three teenage fellas are left with me. They’ve never been to the city. They’re ecstatic seeing dawn breaking over the skyline. I cannot disappoint them. We pull into Marta station; their first train ride. The city sparkles through frosty train windows. They take selfies and try to read the maps on the ceiling. We glide with the crowd up massive escalators up to Peachtree station then out, into a canyon of glass towers. Mesmerized for a moment, the frigid wind drives us right across the street into Waffle House.
While three excited boys point out the windows, cackling, talking so fast I cant catch a word, I take a bite of close my eyes and think there’s just no way any eggs in Marrakesh could be better than this all star omelt.
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