2. How Sybil Got Here

by H. W. Moss

My father had three wives. My mother was his first and she gave birth to three sons of whom I am the first.

His second wife brought two boys to the marriage and took them back when she left.

His third wife bore him three more children, the first a boy and when a daughter was at last brought forth, Dad’s younger brother my Uncle Dave remarked to me, “He finally learned how to hide the plumbing.”

Dad’s last child, a second girl, was born when he was sixty. Thus, Laura either benefited from or had the misfortune, depending on how you look at it, of lackadaisical parenting. After all, Dad had been through that a few times already.

Laura grew up something of a wild child. Her mother made her the favorite and the girl who could do no wrong even when caught, at age 14, by the Palm Springs police giving a false name in a car full of drunken teenagers. Dad had to show up in person to spring her.

Nine months later Laura’s first child was born and given away. We do not know the sex or identity of that person.

Laura’s second child was born in Minneapolis in 1991 on the living room floor of the condo I bought her mother after Dad died. As a child Alec was quite happy to point out the general area on the carpet to me.

Over the years Laura and I had an unsteady relationship that eventually resulted in her cutting me off from any communication with her and Alec.

After he turned 18, I called Alec’s cell phone and we have been in virtual contact ever since. I have no idea why or how I had his number, but I did.

In 2009 Alec told me he had a horrible headache because a friend is moving to Scotland tomorrow, so they stayed up all night drinking with their buddies. Alec said he is going to City College to study aeronautics. He wants to be a pilot and is considering joining the National Guard. I sent him a copy of my essay called “Soup Run.”

Early the following year I called and Alec said last night was his first party with his new roommate. He lives in the college area of Philly, liked the fact I have a Fiat 124 and has an Italian fixed-gear one brake bike. He works with computer hardware rather than software, wants to travel the world. Because we have relatives in Pennsylvania, the place and subject of my short story “Bavarian Cream Pie,” I gave him our cousin Brian’s phone number and told Alec to call and get Brian’s mother Peggy’s phone number.

Peggy is the daughter of Dad’s older brother, Carl. Thus, these are all cousins to Alec who knows none of them.

In an aside that will not make sense in light of American culture, Alec’s aunt Alice, his mother Laura’s sister, second child of Dad’s third wife, a college graduate who displayed acting and singing talent, became a yogi and now follows a guru who proselytizes from an ashram in Bihar, India, where Alice currently lives.

In an aside that does make sense in light of Alec’s desire to travel the world, he went to India and stayed with Alice for perhaps six months.

In mid 2011 Alec was back from India. In response to my question of what he did there, he said, “We smoked a lot of dope and ate a lot of jackfruit.” He was not in school, had no intention of going to school, had a job as a bar back and thinks the Fiat 500 is cool. Alec’s mother, Laura, had by then birthed two more children and moved to New York.

He had to tell me that. She had not.

By October the following year Alec was working at the Aloft Hotel in Brooklyn as a bartender. He said Starwood is the franchise that owns his hotel and I should use that for his address. He expects to be a manager in four years. Also, Alec said he rarely stays at his mother’s place, but that’s on the corner of Washington and Gates.

By December when I called he told me he was staying on his mother’s living room couch. He had a girlfriend named Ana who was an art student and said he wants to propose to her. He bought a diamond ring for $100 to give her as a “pre-engagement.”

My note to self at the end if that particular entry is, “We shall see.”

In April, 2013, he was a bartender, bar back and part time cook at Woodwork and living in Brooklyn. In June, Alec sent a picture of his motor bike saying he’s repairing his new toy. I asked what type it is, meaning make and model. I didn’t recognize it. He said he wanted to go into partnership in a moped repair shop. I sent him a $200 gift certificate to buy equipment from a moped store he frequented.

A year later I phoned and when he answered he told me he was in Mexico. We spoke at length. He said his mother moved to Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula not far from Cancun, which was news to me. Alec told me Americans may now own land in Mexico even in the restricted zone. He said he wants to return to Philadelphia where he can get his GED and then enter City College, but first he wants to get a job.

That December he was in Minneapolis living with the aunt of a friend named Ross. He had no job.

By April he was a courier, had quit the bar and was getting married next year in Mexico and I’m invited. The baby is due September 26.

My note for July is: “He moved to Romania!”

After a considerable number of emails and unreturned phone calls, I received three photos and a brief explanation. Ingrid is his intended, the mother of his child and of Romanian descent. Ingrid was born and grew up in America, the only child of a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a Master’s degree in art.

Alec wrote: “I moved to Romania because Ingrid was given a giant villa on the Black Sea. Her grandmother won it back from the army in court and it’s a massive beautiful house facing the sea. I’ll send some photos. Let me know if you could afford the trip, I would of course have you stay with us so no need for hotels and such. Cheers!”

Ingrid and I have become email correspondents and she described the villa. “It is a half million dollar property overlooking the beach and sea in Mangalia. It is one of the largest properties in this popular vacation town and in the most prominent location possible; it is known by everyone as Villa #1.”

In response to my question, Ingrid wrote, “There is no mortgage! The house is 100 percent owned already. My family had three large properties that were taken by the communist government, and my grandmother has fought for the past twenty years to get them back. So, my 86 year old grandmother recently acquired two massive villas (her parents’ former properties). One is in the mountains and one is overlooking the sea. She gifted the villa in the mountains to my cousin, and the villa by the sea to me. She lives in Bucharest and is very old, so she has spent the past two years trying to convince me to come to Romania in order to take care of this massive property.”

The building has six bedrooms and they intend to turn it into an airbnb. At one point while Ingrid was in the hospital in Bucharest preparing to give birth, Alec was negotiating with their first customer who stayed a week.

Sybil was born in Bucharest September 23, 2015, not off the mark by much.

My next vacation is the Black Sea in Romania. I understand Transylvania has a Dracula-land which I intend to visit.