It has been somewhat of a sad couple of weeks. People are dying. My dog too. She is not a people. But she is my companion. A couple of weeks ago when I was at Luis' on Friday night my friend Oscar invited me to dance.
I have known Oscar for maybe 3 - 4 years. I met him through Mimi before I moved here. He was friends with Reuben. Reuben was a great guy. When I first met him, I could not understand a word he was saying. Once I imitated him for Mimi and she could not stop laughing. I never thought I would ever understand what he was saying. He was Porteño through and through.
When I did my tour a few years ago, he did all the transportation. I had to have my friend Marcelo communicate with him because it was impossible for me. Marcelo used to tell me all the time that after a year of living here I would understand him perfectly. I had my doubts.
Then a couple of months ago maybe 3 or 4 Mimi called to tell me that Reuben was very ill. She said his kidneys were both failing. I was shocked. I had just danced with him a week ago. It did not seem possible. He was sweating a lot, but then he was overweight. She said it did not look good for him.
Whenever I would see Oscar or talk to Mimi I would ask about him. This Friday was no exception. Oscar looked surprised then sad. "Deby" he said to me. "Reuben passed away 2 weeks ago." I was numb. "I guess nobody told you." he said. It did not seem to bother him and he continued dancing with me. And Marcelo was right. After a year, I did understand him. Completely.
My milongueros are dying. I expect it from the ones that are in their 70s, 80s. But Reuben was a robust man in his 60s. He was a gentleman. Even when he tried to put the moves on me. I will miss him. He was my friend.
Yesterday at Enrique's one of my friend's asked me to dance. He started showing up at the milongas a year ago. He told me the woman he worked for encouraged him to start dancing tango. He fell in love with it. He always talked about his boss. He never mentioned her name in the milonga. Just that he did construction and worked for her. She had apartments. He remodeled them and maintained them for her. When she traveled he took care of them.
One day walking home from the bus, I noticed this sort of scruffy guy on the corner staring at me. Nothing new there. But then he tried to touch me. I almost killed him with my too heavy bag. Then I realized I knew him and smiled. "Tranquila" he said to me. It turned out he was working in my barrio.
That was when I found out he worked for Robyn Ash-Rose. I met Robyn once. I was picking up a pizza on the way home. She was too. She recognized me. "You" she said, pointing her finger at me, "dance tango." I thought it was a little weird, but I told her, yes, that I danced tango. She introduced herself to me.
She was from Australia - Perth. She owned several apartments here. She lived here 6 months of the year. She rented out her apartments. She was thrilled to find out I lived in the barrio. Then she brought out her book. Shamelessly she self-promoted herself and her book. I declined her offer to buy it. I remember thinking she was a little daffy, but underneath it was a sweetness.
Back in the presence, in the arms of my friend. I asked him where he had been. He had not been around for awhile. He gave me a strange look. "Robyn died." He said simply. "Things have been crazy for me." Then he realized I didn't know. He apologized. He said she died alone. He told me she had cancer. In the end there was no one to take care of her. No one came to help. She had been his boss for 2 years. He said he could not let her be by herself.
"I made sure she had food. I took her to the doctor's. I came by to make sure she was alright." This was difficult for him. "I had to go down south to see family. I asked people to look in after her. Her friends. She was dead for 3 days when I found her. It was horrible." This poor man. I felt really sad for Robyn. How horrible to die alone and for no one to find you for three days.
When her family came it was to divide up her property. My friend was never thanked. He was thrown out on the street. The family was furious he might have legal claim to an apartment. He didn't care about the apartment. He cared about his friend, his boss.
I felt sad, not just for Robyn, but maybe for all of us who live here. We have no family. You wonder will there be someone there for us? I don't mind being alone. But the thought of dying alone seems so sad. I hope that Robyn has found Reuben and they are dancing that last tanda. Desde Alma.