Princess Daleen

I went to Toys-R-us to buy some soap bubbles. While I was there I noticed a plastic Princess Sofia tiara and though it’d be fun to take a Sharpie and change “So-fia” to “So-ojeen”. I gave the tiara to Soojeen, but it didn’t fit. It physically didn’t seem to fit her head, and I think the idea just didn’t really make any sense to her.

A day later I put the tiara on Daleen’s head, and like a magical glass slipper, it fit just right.

Johanna, Celeste & Daleen at the rim of the Grand Canyon with snow on the ground
Johanna Acero (Bogotá, Colombia), Celeste Canete (Corrientes, Argentina) & Daleen Booyse (Pretoria, South Africa)

In these 3 short months of hosting CouchSurfers my house has already been home to so many amazing and diverse people. From the epic personalities of Antonio, Isnaya and Fabio, to the sublime simplicity of Cecile working late at night by candlelight. From PhD’s in computer science and neuroscience, to jugglers and butoh dancers.

In many ways, Johanna, Celeste & Daleen are among the humblest of these visitors. Three friends who left their home countries to spend some time before college working as au pairs in this country. To take care of other people’s kids. I was lucky enough to meet them when they saved up a bit of their precious pay and a few of their precious days off to cross the country and spend a short vacation here on the West Coast.

The first thing Daleen did when she returned home was to send me a photo of her with “her kids.”

Celeste and Daleen sitting in the living room. Daleen wears a tiara.
Celeste & Daleen

Back on the East Coast Daleen, Celeste & Johanna don’t see each other that much. It’s an hour from Daleen to Celeste, and 3 hours to Johanna. They met in the United States, all working as au pairs, and you know that they are friends by the simple, natural way they are with each other. They were excited to tour around Los Angeles and to visit the mall with that boy. Their joys are small and real. Their presence reminds you what a gift it is simply to be alive and what a privilege it is to live in a world with people who take care of kids, live in the present, and still dream about the future.

Daleen & Glenn sitting in the living room
Daleen & Glenn

It may be a generic, cheap, plastic tiara stamped out in an unknown factory in a distant land, but no one can doubt that it was made for Daleen. It fits just right.

Daleen Booyse wearing a tiara
Princess Daleen


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