Candela said she was going to eat three tacos, because her ex-husband would tell her, “Eat one taco,” and her ex-husband wasn’t there. I was proud of her because she left him. Because for years she kept saying, “I’m going to leave him.” Now she finally did.
It was midnight, and we’d been drinking tequila, and Tacoria was about to close. Candela went up to the counter, to explain why we were eating so late. She said, “Hola, hoy me divorcié. Tres tacos, por favor. Y nachos con Nutella.”
Down the street, we carried our food. We walked so close we could have been glued, like hip-conjoined twins. We were on the town, Candela and I: roaming the streets of New Brunswick, New Jersey, telling college kids to get home safely, never to drink and drive.
We sat on the steps of the tattoo parlor because her ex-husband would say, “Get away from there,” but he had no power anymore. She and I took selfies, holding up our late-night snack: hashtag BFFs, hashtag FreeAtLast!
Candela was fifty-two years old—finally on her own. Free to eat tacos with her lesbian friend. Free to do whatever she wanted. Gray streaks in her hair: a silver vixen. A woman with no more inhibitions, wearing platform boots and too much makeup because her ex-husband would hate the look.
She stared up at the thin, half-crescent moon, shining above the city lights. “I’m sorry,” she said. “You know I wanted to see you. He wouldn’t let me see you.”
“I know, Candela. You don’t have to apologize. It’s gonna be different now.”
She bit into her last taco, letting the grease roll off her chin. I smiled because it was after midnight and she didn’t have to go home.