My introduction to Gaefan (pronounced Gavin) was through a mutual friend. My friend had discovered Gaefan through her friends who knew him as an incoming theater teacher at a local high school. He was new to the area, had previously taught in San Francisco, and had no place to live. In fact, school was starting in a few days and he was living in a trailer in a driveway of an acquaintance of someone who knew someone.
My friend suggested I sublet my guest room to him.
I sort of bristled initially. My friend is also my landlord so the suggestion to sublet was not entirely a suggestion. I was, after all, many months behind on rent.
I had to check my bristle. What was it about really? Yes, it was definitely a message that my space was not really my space. OK. Message received. But she really was trying to help, I’m sure of that. So it was a suggestion that checked a couple of boxes for her. But why else was I bristling? Oh maybe the obvious: a single man, apparently recently divorced (and according to my friend, he was heartbroken) a theater instructor no less, living in my house with me and my three boys under the age of twelve. There would be no way to separate private, sleeping areas from the common areas. There would be no way to avoid those times when my children would be home alone with him. And I could only let my mama bear imagination take over on what his lifestyle might be like and what my kids could be exposed to. And, if I’m being honest and admitting any kind of subversive optimism, I couldn’t help but have Goodbye Girl thoughts as well. What if this was Richard Dreyfus coming to live in my back room, play guitar naked, and be my soul mate? That really could solve a lot of problems.
In the end I was worried about all the wrong things.
So I received an email from this stranger, capable of all kinds of infractions (or delights) upon humanity, at least in my imagination, and rather than focusing at all on what he said, I got stuck on his sign off. And I quote,
I am looking forward to meeting you and your family,
Gaefan (pronounced Gavin)
OK – what the hell kind of affectation is that? So now I’m expecting not Richard Dreyfus (dammit), but Peter Allen. Please, I’m LA inoculated. People with their creative name changes hardly faze me. But this – this was beyond. I can’t imagine going through life having to, nee choosing to, explain my name. “Gaefan, pronounced Gavin”. Your whole life, you sign all your letters, your emails, your contracts, your resumes. That is an excellent example of why one might desire to change one’s name to Bob. In fact, it’s exactly the reason why my son’s names are Jack, Calvin, and Sam. No explanation needed. Ever. How many things in life do you have to worry about? Your name, your label, your first impression, your handle, your moniker should NOT be one of them.
Gaefan? What is that? Gallic? Elfin? It’s sort of Lord of the Rings, is it not? It’s even slightly gender neutral, although Gavin reads male. Oh the questions.
But they would have to wait. At least 24 hours until I met the man. And he sprinkled his elfin dust over me and changed my life forever.