Lifestyle: Fil-Am defense lawyer of a ‘superstar’ counts her way to success

Lawyer Claire-Navarro

Lawyer Claire Navarro Espina

By Claire Navarro Espina

(Editor’s Note: Five years ago Claire Navarro Espina, owner of the Tarzana-based law firm Edelberg and Espina Law, represented Philippines’ superstar Nora Aunor in a much publicized criminal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles for alleged possession of a controlled substance found in her luggage at the Los Angeles Airport. The judge dismissed the case two years after Aunor was booked. Not only is this Tarlac-native fierce as a litigator but she is also a profound prose writer akin to lawyer- author John Grisham; or perhaps to the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She posts the following essay on Facebook. It provides a glimpse on how her mind organizes and how her heart loathes and loves by “counting the ways”).

Nora Aunor with her  lawyer Claire Navarro Espina (background).

Nora Aunor with her lawyer Claire Navarro Espina (background).

“Am I in love? –yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”
― Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

I am the one who waits. I know I am the one who waits because I am the one who counts. I count up to something or from something.
I realized this when I was dating Nick – that I always counted – the hours until I would meet him again, or the street lighting poles which separated me from him, so that I knew how many there were as we were driving along – I counted the light poles leading up to our separation as I counted them leading up to our reunion.

I have carried this habit to any important activity. I got through law school – waiting for that day when I earned my diploma – by counting: breaking the process into weeks and semesters.

I had a book where I wrote in the entire process and every day I crossed off what I had endured. Counting got me through waiting for children to come home when they went away to college. Counting accompanied me when waiting for my grand adventures. I know the day and the hour since I was last truly happy – or felt I was really loved.

In this expertise at counting – I have come to my own device: I only count the mass of time – between now and the day the waiting stops.

If I am to leave for vacation on the 9th of July, I do not count today – because I am already here, and I do not count the 9th, because it is the day I leave.

It is zero as far as my accounting system is concerned because it is the day that begins a new count – the count of the vacation. It belongs there – to the happiness. It does not belong to the waiting.

Claire (middle) with her " perpetual boyfriend" and their children Nicole, Paula, Denise and Lauren.

Claire (middle) with her ” perpetual boyfriend” Nick and their children Nicole, Paula, Denise and Lauren.

My family teases me about this system of counting. Nick especially. He seems to insinuate it is a form of delusion or cheating or refusal to face reality. He irritated me the other day – when the family was counting down to the day we lift off for Spain, and I said 13 days and he responded, 14 – and laughed me off, along with his children, about my system of accounting.

Denise, that girl of military precision, she even snorted last week about my accounting system. This system of my count has become an inside joke with them.

And yet, I affirm the validity of my system. I do not understand why one would count in the waiting, the day an event happens. And I do not understand in the game of waiting why count the present, since it is already occurring. Why not truly count the space-time between those states: The days between now and then.

My family thinks me weird – Nick and his daughters – they are a block of unison thinking me odd in my quirks and manners. Including my accounting.
I thought his refusal, their refusal, to indulge my system of accounting is reflective of the disregard of the persons who do not know what waiting signifies. The adored never know this. They take it for granted. Because the adored never wait. They are waited on. It irritates me, that disregard. It was just one day after all – why could they not grant me that?
I leave them be. This family of mine whom I adore. Theirs is the arrogance of an assuredness of my perpetual waiting upon them. I have not been as lucky. They do not wait on me as I wait on them.
But – I am entitled to my reality and I will continue to count only the mass of in-between. It shortens the wait and it gives me pleasure that I am able to cheat time.
I have known all along I am the one who loves, because I am always the one who waits.
But in the paradise of what should be, I will be the one waited on. Or waited for. I will be the one for whom a device of shortened waiting accounting period would have been invented.

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