Mr. Estrella is a walking paradox. He is a short Spanish-speaking mexican teenager who dresses like a gangster and talks like a retired English professor with a thick accent. He's everybody dude's friend, every girl's "husband". I don't know where he came from, or where he's going, but he sticks out wherever he is, and not just because he wears a fluorescent orange coat.
He really has four names, but Estrella is the one I picked.
Mr. Estrella has been to see me in my office 32 times since September--mostly just to talk. Every conversation ends like this:
"Pues. No se, Anita. Adios"
(And then, he punches my stuffed bear in the face)
"Estrella! Mi oso! Me PresciOso!"
"It's ugly oso."
And so it goes. I am pleased with a pun in my sencond language, and he is pleased with his insult to a bear I was given that was found in a dumpster.
Mr. Estrella got a job painting, which I could tell before he told me. He was covered in it. When he got paid, he bought me three bags of gummy bears. He had never had them before. I gave him some.
"Anita! They are so delicious! I love them! I love them with all of my heart, Anita!"
I looked in every drawer until I found calling card that would work for calls outside of the country. Mr. Estrella has not talked to his mother in a year. There is five minutes left on the calling card, but she never answers. Today, Estrella cried.
Estrella came into my office last week with a string of spanish exclamations that came a little too fast. All I could catch was "Your teacher! Sooo nice! She is going to call!" And then he went to work. An hour later, I answered the phone:
"Anna? Hi! It's Rachel! Your 3rd grade teacher! I met your friend Juan, and I want to give him a Bible in Spanish. Can I drop it off to you?"
She did, and Estrella carries it with him everywhere he goes now. He said he "looks at it every night".
Mr. Estrella looks like Paulie, the native-american/phillipino-looking-19-going-on-11-kid-with-a-dutch-last-name. They both have drinking problems, but Estrella pointed out one very important difference:
"Him, man's body, boy's mind. Me, mind and body both match."
Estrella says after he gets paid next, he will move. He says he has no family here, and that his 7 different supposed wives don't count. "Nobody is sad when I am sad" he says. He thinks he will go to New York.
He told me that he was not going to say goodbye.
I asked him why.
He answered in Spanish, and the best translation I could come up with was:
"For the sake of the bear."