“Noname,” E says between bites. “You gave quite the impression of one unhinged this morning!”
“I’m sorry, E, if I was weirded out by a stranger coming up to me and using my old name – well,” I pause in frustrated thought, “one of my old names – then definitely, it was all on me.”
Someone whistles. Someone else chuckles and oohs. E presents her most vague smile. The stranger stands up.
“Clearly, I believed you to be given more information than you had actually been given. I am the reason you work for Senator X. My name is Victoriana, and you shouldn’t shorten it.” She pronounces her name Victoriahhna and I want to hit her smirking mouth.
“And I believed that E made all things happen, even your job, Victoriahhna.” I walk out with my things to more chattery gasps.
Back in my room, in an outlandishly blue maxi dress, I wait for my comeuppance. The wait ends quickly with E knocking and simultaneously opening the door.
“Have I given you too much?” she asks. “Are you unfulfilled? Did you not say you wanted to effect change? Is this not what you signed up for?”
“Stop. Okay? Just don’t. Living two lives is harder than I expected. But that woman threw my entire day.”
“You are not in middle school.” E’s tone could not have been more restrained. “You barely know anything of living two lives.”
Though I knew she referenced her childhood and growing up in a fully American public world and an almost fully Mexican private world, I didn’t care. “And you know nothing about disappearing, living on the streets, and changing who you are to the whole planet!”
“There, you’ve had your say. If it helps, I can say I respect you more for what you’ve said.”
Nothing matters to E. That’s why and how she can manage all this subterfuge. Because she’s forced to live without her family, she thinks a simple choice of living without one should be a breeze. Or at least that’s what I think she thinks. But I say none of this.
“Is Victoriana my handler?” I ask.
“Handler,” E rolls the word in her mouth for a moment. “I suppose you could consider her your handler, if what you mean is that she has information you don’t necessarily have and that she must intermittently give you direction and that you must consistently follow that direction.”
“Fine. Now I know her and I know the deal.” I pause to breathe more deeply than I have all day. “Tell her my name is Naomi Bird and that is all she can call me.”
“We’ve had a,” E presses her lips together in added restraint, “discussion to that very point. Expect to meet her for coffee tomorrow morning at 6:45.”
E glides away and I am left to make myself okay with this. Handled by Victoriana certainly can’t be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hope.