I woke up in the middle of the night, my heart heavy with concern for E. I felt so helpless, there was little I could do for him now. I tried my best to help with his PowerPoint presentation. I organized and searched and wrote. I did my best. Even with all of that, there was little I could do. It was all up to him, and it felt like such an enourmous weight to bear. Maybe kind of worry was how he felt when I was having Tyoma. Sitting, waiting. Worrying.
E drove to the interview place, which was a cinch since he’d done it yesterday, just to be sure. We arrived early, largely since I was panicky and wanted to get there safely. Pesky, selfish me. We chatted aimlessly until 8:15. I watched him disappear into a sea of cars as he walked away. Sigh.
I tried not to panic driving back to the hotel, which was some work since I have been in a constant state of disorientation since we arrived. I had practiced the way back in my mind, and still I had problems. In brief, one way streets kept swapping their arrows every time I blinked. I have to hand it to California drivers, they are a kind and patient lot. No horn honking, cursing, or flip-offs, just smiles and friendly waves. Nice, very nice. I looked for someplace to pull over, to let the rush hour traffic flow by smoothly.
Fortuitously I found a Super-Target, and decided to pick up snacks on the cheap (room service=$$$). It was so odd to see all the merchandise so familiar to me in Las Cruces, but for one odd bit–they had wine! Yes, I bought a bottle, a wine opener and some chips, dammit. The wine prices were awesome. Another plus for California. I wondered how many bottles of wine I would have to drink to make up for the cost of housing.
I agonized for the rest of the day, waiting to hear from E. I must have called mom six times. Perhaps this was not a good idea, talking obsessively over it, but I asked her to help keep my mind off of it and she really helped. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I watched Maury Pauvich, took a shower, curled my hair and put on make up. I wandered around in rollers in my favorite worn nightgown with the AC on high. I thought a glass of wine would be sweet, but avoided it. I was completely paranoid over making a bad impression if I was invited out for dinner.
Time slipped by. I watched Fox News. The Weather Channel. Checked my email. Back to Fox. I tried not to think about what was going on with E, but there was nothing to do but wait or get lost/killed driving around.
E finally called at 4:30. I wondered what he did for eight hours that he couldn’t drop me a little message. I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind. He said the presentation and interview went well. He would be home soon and, no, there wouldn’t be a dinner tonight. After an eternity, he came home and told me to get dressed since we were going to dinner. I snapped. After a long day of waiting, I unloaded on him. The sad thing was that I knew I was being unfair. Some dam broke open inside me and I freaked. I pulled my shit together, though, got ready and quit bitching. I had to remind myself this was not about me.
Our drive to the restaurant was long, traffic filled and metropolitan. Streams of cars on the road in the failing light looked like rows of silver zippers curving across and immense and unending body. I had to fight my anxiety with all my might to shut up about our drive. I wanted to tell him to slow down, quit weaving, be careful.
He seemed reckless and out of his mind as he drove, adhering to his theory that being a good driver is not about following the rules, it’s about following the flow. He did well, then. This pace was too fast for me. Multiple lanes of cars confused me, made me feel as if I did not know my place, especially in the dim light. Sometimes, when lines form at stores, it’s unclear what is happening. Is this lane for the lane directly ahead or for the the next open cashier? These days, they corral you so you don’t get confused and inadvertently cut in front of the next Kohl’s customer. I felt as if there were no lanes here, just a giant motor free-for-all and I could not see how anyone could navigate through that at a single mile over the speed limit.
We reached the restaurant intact, my nerves jangling. I did not clearly understand what happened during E’s day, but it seemed good. The restaurant was a blur, although I recall that one fellow was a maverick. Perhaps too much so, for his own career’s sake–like one of those supporting character’s in an Armageddon movie who helps the hero save the world. The senior fellow was very nice. He seemed earthy and polished at the same time, self-confident and wise.
We ordered beers and then dinner. Since I assumed that we were paying my way I ordered an expensive dish out of confusion over the menu. My expensive choice resulted in one of the fellows having a salad. I did not realize my mistake until it was too late and felt absolutely mortified. We left extra cash to pay, but I did not understand if it was taken or refused.
Dinner was very pleasant, but I felt as if something was subtly wrong. The looks the men gave me made me wonder if E was being judged on my appearance. They looked–surprised. I figured that it must be because I looked old or fat or somehow inappropriate for such a wonderful fellow. In retrospect, I must have looked anxious and pissed and maybe they wondered, WTF?
The restaurant was located right on the beach and we took a brief after dinner walk to look at the last glimmers of pink in the sky. I felt immensely hopeful, suddenly. Well, even if we can’t afford a home and have a small place to live, we will be here and we can come to this quiet, peaceful beach. Tyoma could grow up loving the ocean visiting cool cosmopolitan places.
When we returned to the hotel, I opened the bottle of wine and helped myself generously. I’d timidly sipped beer at the restaurant, feeling self-conscious and scrutinized. As I was sipping wine, Egor spoke to his mother on the phone. We received shocking bad news. E’s grandmother had passed away.
I was flattened by disbelief. I did not know what to say to my husband. I’d been so selfish ans self occupied all day, I did not want to add to his hurt. After the call, we lay side by side and held hands. We cried quiet tears and said nothing.