I needed some assistance in Legalese recently, a snappy letter to the government, and my favorite pit bull was unavailable on the phone.
So, I called a friendly, retired lawyer for a pro bono consultation.
Don’t think twice, he said, call Nancy Gravenstijn, this girl moves fast.
I did, on a Friday afternoon, almost five pm.
Imagine, she picked up the phone, listened to me, accepted all docs via WhatsApp, and asked me to come by her office Monday morning 9am for the customized, polished and precise document, which I had to deliver with umpteen copies, stamps and signatures, that day.
It was a flawless experience, and it confirmed we have been friends for more than three decades.
I remember, in the 80s, I used to run a cocktail party every Monday afternoon at the Alhambra Bazaar, attempting to attract guests from the Divi & Tamarijn across the street, for shopping, and later on perhaps a bit of gaming.
The highlight of the cocktail party – rum punch, anybody? – was a fashion show in which young school students from Aruba got to strut their stuff in bikini bathing suits, wraps and beach coverups, from the stores, showing off their merchandise. You know what I mean.
The show was always popular as my shapely, exotic amateur-models got quite professional at walking the virtual runway among guests, in the Roseland plaza.
To spice things up I used to tell guests about them, sharing biographical notes, letting visitors know they are not just pretty faces.
My favorite line, when Nancy emerged all gorgeous, was to tell the audience about her plans: Ladies and Gents, I used to say, this is Aruba’s best looking future Legal Eagle, this girl is going to be a lawyer, not just any lawyer, but the best.
Nancy used to nod gracefully in agreement, turn around slowly, show off her flawless figure and the pretty bikini; she was dreaming about a bright future, and we confirmed it to ourselves every week, on Monday, 30 years ago.
Advocatenkantoor mr N S Gravenstijn is today located in an iconic street, right next to the court house, in a historic building that used to be the practice of Notary Faride Tjong Ajong.
The building is elegantly painted, gray purple, and Nancy reports she changes the exterior color every two years to complement contemporary taste. It is fully renovated and flaunts a glass staircase, oversize panoramic windows, and original artwork on the walls.
It is a successful law practice and it took off on the wings of an ambitious 14-year-old, who used to model for pocket money.
She comes from a humble background, and remains humble and gorgeous, naturally. She can also cook very well, and her Surinam recipes feed two teenage kids every day.
Why do I like this story so much? Personally, I did not have a clear path, I did not know as a teen where I was headed, and it is remarkable to me that a path charted early on in life, held up, and that a teenager can come up with such a solid vision, that sticks.