It happened that fast. She was here with me, under the leaky umbrella of my best and somewhat haphazard maternal devotions and now she’s gone. I shouldn’t be surprised; I’ve always said there was some sort of alien switcharoo in the nursery and look, see what’s happened? She’s found herself an alien.
I joined Abby and Misha and Grey for dinner last night, as a guest in their home. How odd and awkward. She met him at work about a year and a half ago, when he was first here from Russia. She hasn’t talked about him all that much, playing her cards close to the vest, shark that she is. She knew I would poke and probe and pry.
At their apartment, they have a porch with three green plastic chairs and two bicycles chained to the rail. They have a view of the bay but no microwave. They have four plates and four cups and four bowls and a press board entertainment center scrounged from a friend and they have a queen size bed. They don’t have cable TV and they don’t have a telephone-type telephone. They do have post-its on every single thing in the house with Russian words on them. There was no beer or wine in the refrigerator; in fact there was very little in there because they both have part time jobs working at fancy hotels where they get free food. They have lots of books and CDs and Abby’s state-of-the-art Leica telescope on the entertainment center. They have enough bits and pieces from Africa and Russia and a piece of Daniel’s artwork to make it feel comfortably home-like. They have a cat with a litter box but when we looked under the bed for the cat, they have no dirty clothes or dust bunnies under there. Just a cat. And they have each other.
It’s unimaginable, really. One of her more alien-like traits has been her lack of interest in boyfriends. I mean, she has always had many boy friends– they’ve numbered as many as her girl friends, if not more. She doesn’t have a history of being a girly girl. Only nano seconds of Barbies, mall hanging and makeup, no sticky relationship triangles, no gossip or giddy whispering. She has preferred to run and dive and climb and backpack and kayak. Play lacrosse and football. Even as a young child, she has wanted the freedom to travel hither and yon.
She had a brief stint with the infamous Putz- the one where I considered all of the angles involved in hiring a hitman, but at some point I listened to a wise friend who suggested Abby was attracted to the total lack of expectations other than being “pretty” and that, left alone, she would move on and I wouldn’t have to spend life in prison. He was in her life at a time when she was making her move away from home, out of state and into independence. Sure enough, once she was settled into her new phase of life, he was history.
Perhaps this is a phase, too. Who knows? Does one become fluent in a new language with a different alphabet for just a phase? The lack of dirty clothes or dishes under the bed suggests that this is a different sort of phase. The financial independence and the fiscal responsibility, the confident and organized approach to figuring out school and work schedules all smell strangely new to me. The affectionate glances and comfortable pats as they move about the kitchen cause me to turn away and while I don’t exactly cringe, something deep in my сердце shifts.
These days, as discouraging as it is, even marriage itself can be a passing phase. Heaven knows, I’ve dreamed about her having a marriage made in Heaven for a lifetime and I definitely don’t want her to go through the pain involved in the ending of something serious. And Heaven knows, I want more than anything, anything at all, for her to be happy and that probably includes being in love the way adult women are in love.
But this- this phase I am not ready for. I don’t want it yet. I want her to still hold MY hand under that umbrella when it rains. I want to still be her travel partner, up the Inside Passage and through the Costa Rican canopy and under the Caribbean Sea. And yet, what I want really doesn’t matter now, does it?
(postscript: I may have to offer a prize to the first person who notices and identifies the detail of that stellar photo I took without benefit of autofocus. I was setting up the little water fountain in Florida… )