At a Vindigo reunion on Tuesday night, Jason gave me a fat manila package. He’s clearing house for a big trip and a new marriage. On the cab ride back to the hotel, hundreds of photos tumbled into my lap, all different sizes, some dog-eared. Spain, college parties, and a visit to see Pat. Our last night in Dublin. Group shots from a Wall Street training course–the names are long gone, but I remember their Myers-Briggs scores. A holiday in San Francisco. Drinks to celebrate quitting jobs. Visits home; visits from my parents. A wedding; our wedding; more weddings. New Orleans. My desk at Vindigo. Our little millennium party, propping up a listing Christmas tree.
My own face looks out most of them, sometimes fat from college beer, sometimes thin from New York stress, with worse or better haircuts through the years. These snapshots are artless. They tell you nothing.
I have a running joke with Keith Yamashita, who hired me through these pages, that this “Dervala” is a fabrication. That my real name is Debbie, and I was a Wal-Mart greeter from Festus, Iowa. I’d stored up years of fake smiles and silent dreams there, until one night I sneaked into a traveling production of Riverdance, and was inspired. Night after night I sat in Festus with a book of Celtic baby names and a DVD of _Angela’s Ashes,_ planning my escape to the big city. It took months to work out the back story for this Irish yuppie-drifter, who has bounced around too often to keep track of. Maybe I overdid it. This Dervala character, she’s a little implausible, Keith says, but it works, except when the accent slips and he can hear Debbie loud and clear. I tell him I couldn’t possibly do a worse Irish accent than he does.
“Welcome to Wal-Mart,” he sing-songs behind my desk. “Pampers? That’s Aisle 6.”
When the taxi pulled up, I slipped one photo into my pocket. J. took it on my 29th birthday, and it catches me as I’d like to look but rarely do. I was too vain to resist this one trophy for my upcoming crone years, but I stuffed the rest of the photos back in their interoffice envelope and left them on the back seat with a pat goodbye. I like the idea of my past circling New York City in a yellow taxi, waiting for the next Debbie who needs it.