Have no idea where Little Luce’s paper is and don’t want to sound like a hovering aunt. Had I moved to California fifteen years ago I would have missed out on watching the day to day growth of the most amazing teenager that I know. I’m not being biased; she enchants everybody who meets her.
Her parents didn’t want to know her sex. When I arrived at the hospital, her mother’s cousin was on the phone: “it’s a girl.” Wanted to kill her as I had waited nine months, I could have waited nine more minutes.
Her father, a cameraman so he should have known better, was following a Black boy around the hospital. Lucia, George and Little Luce are all whiter than I, and I am very pale.*
I call her Little Luce because she was obsessed with Lucille Ball most of her life, and her bedroom is a virtual shrine to Lucy including two studio portraits, and a bottle of wine from Ellen’s Stardust Diner which has singing 50’s waiters and waitresses, Grease playing non-stop it seems, and lousy over priced food that somehow feels right.
Lucia and George were Lucy and Desi, the 90’s version. Rafe and I refused to be Ethel and Fred.
Lucia was managing an ornamental plaster shop in NoLita and needed workers, in the mid/late 80’s. I told Rafe who recommended his cousin Humberto and his friend. The friend showed up…Rafe and I take great pride in Little Luce and none in the marriage. George and Lucia were a gene pool made in heaven, and Little Luce has most of the best of both.
We were at the beach when she was about 20 months old. Two blond twins were crying. Little Luce walked up to them, put her arm around their shoulders and talked in a mixture of Spanish and English as she thought they were one language. The girls began to laugh. Their mother was shocked as they never let other kids get near them. Little Luce has that affect on people.
She knew that her father took airplanes to work, and when one would pass she would say “avion, papi.” Then she understood that her father didn’t live in an airplane, but in war torn countries filming amazing montages. Somehow George’s work looks as if the people and images should be set to music.
Music has always been an important part of all of our lives. When she was in utero, Lucia and I sat not three rows away from Eric Clapton. It had to have affected her.
When I would pick her up from her after-school program or some other place, she would introduce me as her friend. It still sends chills down my spine thinking about it.
I took her to see The Nutcracker when she was five at Lincoln Center. Little Luce was the only child to sit enraptured and not move except to the music throughout the ballet. There had been a mini-blizzard that day, and she was thrilled when I let her play in the snow because she was wearing snow clothes instead of a Nutcracker dress as my sister and I called them. Little Luce had thrown a tantrum when her mom refused to let her dress up, but now was as happy as a kid in white snow before it turns black and yellow.
She’s a city kid. And a full fledged teenager who never went through an awkward stage but was a drama queen and probably will be again. It’s in the genes, all sides. And she has me as a role model and friend. I could probably still beat her at a staring contest, but she would win the practical joke contest, no contest. That’s really not fair as I was one of her teachers.
When the Towers imploded she was eleven. It wasn’t easy as the buildings and all that they signified meant a lot to her. The first baby she remembered from birth was my niece who lived in the building closest to The World Financial Center for her first several years. Little Luce and I would visit her.
The Trade Center was the best indoor mall in Manhattan and we would go there, occasionally. Little Luce has never taken her life for granted as I did. There’s always been an almost scary adult in her that’s been tempered by a child who takes much delight from the world. When I was eleven I thought myself too old to act like a child. Fortunately Little Luce never bought into that, though many of her friends did.
That was the year Little Luce developed a love for Billie Holiday, especially “Strange fruit.” She intuitively and immediately understood it.
The apartment was Lucia’s before she met George, and God’s Love, We Deliver began there. Lucia inherited the apartment from Patrick’s lover who was also Lucia’s husband. Because we were losing so many friends from AIDS, Lucia both stopped smoking and began volunteering. Little Luce is doing her community service at the GMHC.
Last week she bought a $30 cable for two bucks and fixed speakers that had been broken for two years. She told me how excited she was now that she found out that she inherited Lucia’s handy person skills. She looks like a younger Lucia, tall, elegant and, uh excuse me, Lucia, with a way better waist. Lucia was all legs when we were young.
Little Luce looks like no particular ethnic group and almost every. When I look at her face I see the future, and I see the baby and child she once was.
There’s so much more she’s going to be discovering in the next few years. It thrills me that she wants to tell me about some of them.
I know that if I leave New York now, she will always be a part of my life. I am not her mother, but one of three or four women who consider her their godchild. It’s egotistical to say that I knew when she ran to others sometimes as a child, she would run to me as a teenager. She has.
*Forgot to explain that they’re Hispanic, and LL actually got a half point taken off the Agpar baby scale because she was “too white,” until Lucia screamed at the doctor to look at her and her husband.