By Chloe Voss
Boxes of supplies and the omnipresent sound of emergency phone tones have mingled with the case files and workload of the court system. The woman at the front desk is clearly busy juggling multiple tasks between various duties both familiar and temporary as result of the crisis.
Ms. Perry is informed of my presence and I’m sent on my way up the courthouse steps to meet with her in her office. After greetings and pleasantries I felt it necessary to thank Ms. Perry before starting in on our conversation.
My thanks extended beyond the required appreciation of her setting aside time for me, let alone under the circumstances. Though it was the circumstances that required my gratitude; you see, if not for Ms. Perry accompanying rescue crews during the evacuation efforts preceding Hayden’s arrival I may have been watching a movie under water at the Asphyxiation Point Theater. Her thoughtful calm in checking the buildings along lower downtown no doubt saved many lives.
Luckily my rather personal start to our meeting did not unhinge our interview or let it push off on the wrong rails. Quite the contrary as our District Attorney (D.A.) gave a more detailed response to my expression of appreciation than I expected; one that led to a happy opening:
Eva Perry – “....you know honestly, all the years I've lived on the island I never really participated in the rescue efforts, it was out of being self-centered I think but I'm trying to adopt a new outlook on life…”
Our D.A. has now settled comfortably in her chair, her posture one of repose. Quite frankly a much more wonderful way to have a conversation, interviews can come across as so very confrontational so her relaxation with me was a relief on my own mind.
I certainly had to empathize with her sentiments, "Well in a disaster of such magnitude it’s not easy to place one’s own well-being on the line. You said you're adapting a new outlook? What was 'old' Eva like?" Let’s face it, even if we hear the same rumor over and over from different sources nothing compares to receiving a solid answer from the subject of said rumors.
Eva Perry - “Self-involved, emotionally claustrophobic...not always too interested in the welfare of others if it didn't benefit me in some way." (I note a wince here. Her own words apparently causing distress) "…and I'm still working on a lot of that. I admit that I love to have a good time and many times over indulged in liquor but I've cut way back and started to focus more on the long term. Not that I don't still enjoy a few glasses of wine, or going out and cutting loose, I'm just more careful with it these days."
Quite the penetrating self-observation in her answer but I felt to poke about the edges for more, " [As human beings] We want to enjoy and experience things, but now, especially with your position. I imagine that you have to be reeeeally careful. People have such expectations that we all attach to titles.”
Eva Perry - "Yes, and in my youth I pushed quite a few boundaries. My father was an off shore fisherman as was his father before him and on back to Fredrick Perry, my great grandfather, so I was left to my own devices and unsupervised when I wasn't able to accompany my father on his trawler, things were different then. And he was a wonderful man but a die-hard fisherman. Anyway, as a teenager I was in some minor trouble here and there. After this last incident when I was arrested for assault on someone close to me I had to really take inventory of myself"
At her mention of the domestic incident Eva’s discomfort is apparent. I kept my follow up deliberately brief, "Yes, the 'incident'. What happened exactly?" Ms. Perry’s smile is now absent, the topic clearly difficult.
Eva Perry - "It was a culmination of a huge misunderstanding [with] my ex and I was very emotional and I let my own emotions get out of control. Although I did not intend to harm Officer Vincente in any way, it happened and it happened due to my own recklessness and failure to control my temper and I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused to him and anyone else involved." Our D.A.’s discomfort at her own confession was evident.
It is at this point where I am afforded the opportunity to ask a question that relates to Eva’s history. Much could be printed no doubt in regards to recent events in Eva’s life and it was with no small amount of trepidation that I sought out this answer in particular to help clarify her personal state of mind.
"Was it maybe also perhaps some stress all layered together? … perhaps stress resulting from the incident of your disappearance? I'm not trying to say [the separate events] were directly related, it’s just that stressful situations can affect us deeply and bleed over into parts of our lives that we normally wouldn't expect."
With this question posed, her expression leaves no doubt that Eva’s comfort zone is clearly breached. Yet, she steadfastly upholds her responsibility for the domestic incident and refuses to shift blame.
Eva Perry - "Yes, partly… I won't deny that I've always had a temper and it wasn't the first time I had thrown objects in the heat of the moment, I'm a thrower but there are still some issues related to that incident that I'm … dealing with. It was traumatic and of course any loss of life is a tragedy.”
(For details as to Eva’s comment regarding loss of life readers are encouraged to read the Times articles relating to both her disappearance and subsequent reappearance.)
With no small amount of gratitude for Eva’s candor in answering such heavy questions it was time to lighten the mood. Ms. Perry’s responses leave no doubt she accepts the burden of her actions. Still, it was time to press forward and look to the future.
"All this excitement, or, maybe stress recently. So many incidents, and the weather on top of it. I can see how you may feel the need for a different outlook. So, if I may, and for the benefit of our city, could I ask you of your plans? What does the future hold for Eva Perry?"
Eva Perry - "Let's see, spending more time with family...I've recently found out that I have a half-sister, Dr. Aimee Ingall. We've been getting to know each other which is nice, with both my parents gone, to have family again. I want to strengthen the friendships I have, help some friends that need it and of course really focus on my career for the time being, but I think repairing relationships and forging new friendships is at the top of my goals for the future.”
Ms. Perry’s mood is clearly lighter and more comfortable. Telling perhaps is that her immediate concern for the future is talk of family and friends. A trait most commendable and I feel I am taking on the part of a gossip for having to pry.
"No ambitions? No other office or position that you foresee in the future?"
Eva Perry - "We'll see but for now I don't have any political ambitions, I need to get my own life in order before I could ever dream of trying to iron out the issues that a position in office would hold. I'm content for the time being, I think I handle things better when there is that opportunity to win." Eva added a wink to her closing statement on our interview, "I've never been a very gracious loser.”
Ms. Perry may not consider herself a gracious loser but her generosity extends to allowing me to take a couple of photographs despite having already hoarded so much of her time.
Equipment safely stored I leave the courthouse with a greater appreciation of the time and effort that our District Attorney, Ms. Eva Perry expends in her hours. There are clearly many more stories that could be written of her life. Only the barest reflection captured in this small moment she allowed me to share. To see what comes next in her life will no doubt be truly remarkable.