At least two sides: they are there for a coin, a driver's license, a story. Even a point of view can be plural. Such is the case at home since Saint Valentine's Day, or the Día del Amor y la Amistad here in México. The holiday itself gives lip service to two things, similar as they may be, the lines between love and friendship an almost laughable sort of thing to draw.
Patricio loves dogs. Alisa loves cats. Patricio loves Alisa to be happy at home. She is. But now even more so. Because Patricio's love has more than two million sides. And now Alisa will no longer talk of figurative black kittens, the kind blamed for stepping through a mirror into a looking-glass house.
In this story, it was the red Jetta's fault entirely. Parking for awhile at one of the ubiquitous, guilty pleasures of a restaurant, Vips, the bumper slid silently over the blocky, cement wheel-stop. Backing out later ripped the bumper right off; red Jetta was in need of an immediate fix. So we drove it down to what we often call Canutoland, a small triangle of a Tlalnepantla neighborhood, where nine out of ten people are Patricio's cousins of some first or second stripe. Ermenegildo, or Mere, runs a small mechanic shop on one side. He soon had the Jetta jacked up and drills buzzing, busily putting our Valentine-colored car back together again.
Lifting an old tire off to the trash, an employee dumped a dusty and unsuspecting kitten out, blinking into the sun and running fast back into the shop. Patricio saw it happen. Mere told him to take it. Looking up from a book, Patricio lifted the little thing into my lap. He was filthy as a grease-pump. I already knew he was mine. His side of the story might be different, but the ending was the same. He made passenger number three when the Jetta was set free.
We've named him Balam (pronounced like bah-láhm), which can't escape singularity, either. In Mayan, it means "jaguar," a black cat with a job that wasn't dark like its coat. The Balam were Mayan deities who protected people in their daily lives. The jaguars themselves would also protect a community from external threats. My little Balam serves as protection of a different sort, from too much solitude at home, from that need to hold and love another creature unlike myself.
But for some, Balam is also a three-headed demon, a duke of the underworld with all-knowing prescience. In the mornings, with little Balam waking us up by crawling around on our heads, I wonder if this is true, too. At the very least, though, he's as Alice said to Kitty, "A little mischievous darling."
I'm happy as a clam about him, and there are certainly no two ways about that.