The best laid plans.....
I awakened at 5 a.m. yesterday with a migraine. A bad one. I could barely lift my head up and when I did, the urge to throw up was immediate.
So, Bing's last look at me for a month and half was me with my head in the toilet as she came in to say goodbye so Tinton and Liv could take her to the airport. I waved her off, told her NOT to kiss me but she did anyway. She is made of stern stuff, that one. And then I crawled back to bed where I stayed until this morning when I got up, gingerly to take Liv and Tinton to the airport at the bright hour of 7 a.m.
Now, I am alone in the house, save for the dog, feeling a little wobbly legged from the migraine, but at least the pain is gone.
I immediately planned out my day. Books to take back to the library, letters to mail, groceries to buy, laundry to do.
But, instead, I sat at the kitchen table looking forlornly out the window into the mugginess of this June day.
I know that, in time, I will be fine. But, right now I feel lonely. Bing took care of so many things before she left, she made sure that all the air conditioners (we live in a very old house...no central air) were cleaned and pumped full of whatever the crap goes in them to run properly. She did all the laundry. She filled the car with gas and called a lawn service to mow the lawn while she was gone so I wouldn't have to do it.
But, still. I am furious with her.
I sat at the table, fuming. WHY does she have to go away every summer? Last year, it was Japan and then Africa. She was gone ALL summer. I know, I know...she won a Fulbright Scholarship and that is a big deal. But..WHY does she have to work so hard to leave every summer? I asked her this once and she sat quietly for a moment and then said, "I dunno. I guess I'm just feeling my age, you know? I feel like I am 52 years old and I won't be able to travel like this forever. I might as well see as much of the world as I can!"
Funny. I am her age and I feel no such compulsion to travel. In fact, I would much prefer to be at home with my books, my garden, my family. The truth is, that with my rheumatoid arthritis and Meniere's syndrome, traveling can be difficult. So, I have become a nester, I suppose. But, in truth, I love it. I don't mind....staying put. I just wish that she would enjoy staying put too.
I was rummaging through her desk drawers this morning, looking for her itinerary, which she told me she had left on my desk, but I couldn't find it. I found a note from her friend, Peggy. I may have mentioned this
"You can be really hard to live with, Maria," she had said. "And sometimes, okay..it was kind of nice to be around someone who so clearly thought that I hung the moon. It was like...everything I said or did, Peggy found so clever, so funny, so damn smart. I guess my ego needed her to a certain degree and when I realized that, I decided that she was probably a danger to our marriage and I decided to stop seeing her, even though I never thought of her as more than a friend."
Well, there was a note in Bing's drawer. A new one. It was a hand written note, dated June 1. It said, "I'll miss you while you're gone!! Maybe we can go biking when you get back, okay aray? Did you find the Reece's bar that I left on your desk at work? I know how you crave peanut butter when you are away from home!! So, send me oodles of texts while your (sic) gone, pretty pleez!!??? And don't come home only able to speak German, okay!!?? XXXOOO P
I sat fingering the note, questions all over the place. Why had Bing saved this? Were they seeing each other again? Why on earth did that idiotic woman have to put exclamation points after each and every sentence like that? How old was she? 14?????!!!! And, why did she know that Bing craved peanut butter and I didn't?
I put the note back and walked out of the room. Later I would sit down to check my e-mail and would find the itinerary right where Bing said she left it. Later still, I would be checking the freezer to see if I needed to stock up on ice cream and I would find Reece's peanut butter cups, 4 cup size tucked in the back.
Trust is important in any relationship, so I decided to tuck this into my brain and talk about this when she got back. No jumping to conclusions.
But, for now...I feel bereft, adrift.
I remember last summer well. I did well after a time. But the first few days were the worst. I remember coming home from work and feeling the quietness, the emptiness of the house. Bing, who cannot be home without a television or a cd playing. Liv, who always had her school books spread out on the dining room table or the living room floor.
I remember hanging on to Lee DeWyze's music like a life raft. Playing his Slumberland and So I'm Told cds over and over while I lay in the Adirondack chair outside, ear buds tucked in, Socks splayed across my lap, a drippy ice filled glass of iced tea next to me.
I quickly became accustomed to a television that was only turned on once a day and that was to hear the 10 o'clock news. The rest of the time I spent in my garden or reading. I had thought that I would spend lots of time blogging with no foot tapping Bing asking me if I was going to come snuggle with her and watch some TV, but surprisingly, I only checked in on my blog about once or twice a week. It was as if I went into a slumber of my own, a lazy pattern to my days of work and coming home and slipping into shorts and a tee shirt to go weed my garden and then lay in the soft summer night, my book by my side, Lee DeWyze in my ears, a dog in my lap. Like some old soft Chad and Jeremy song.
I would go grocery shopping later and this too, would be a change. I would buy several boxes of cereal, knowing that my eating habits would go out the window with Bing gone and no role model to be for Liv. Many, many nights would be spent eating a bowl of Lucky Charms instead of a green, leafy salad. The dishwasher would only be run when I ran out of spoons or cereal bowls since there would be no other plates or utensils to fill it up.
I am lucky to be in this age of electronics, I know this. I can text Liv and Bing, e-mail, talk on the phone whenever I wish even though they are so far away. Liv, particularly will check in daily and I will hold the receiver close to my ear, feeling my throat tighten when I hear her voice say, "Mama?" It will not be as urgent with Bing. She and I are neither of us, the romantic types. She will call (or more likely text since it is cheaper and she is always, always, always money conscious) and we will share our days, leaving out the lengthier funny stories. We will say/write a breezy "I love you!" before we sign off. She will sometimes confess that she is missing me, missing my mouth, my laugh, the sound of my voice. I have always been less needy, not one to talk of missing her, although, privately, there will be times in the day when I ache for her. I am not one to talk sexy on the phone or even admit to my aching for her. I'm not built that way and she knows this, accepts this.
I had one scary moment of crazy worry as I sat at the kitchen table, looking out at all my house plants scattered around the back deck, necks straining towards the summer sun.
What if there is some sort of nuclear bomb or something and the world closes down? I would probably never see either Liv or Bing again. Liv would be safe (well as safe as one can be in this sort of scenario) with her father in France. Bing would be in Berlin. I would be here. On the prairie. The chances of us ever making it back to each other would be nil. No. Liv would end her days with her father, Bing would probably learn to speak fluent German and settle in for the end of her days there. And me? I would be some crazy woman in an old house in the heartland of America. All alone with a dog and some vegetables that were probably unsafe to eat now. I would end my days sitting in chairs, fingering pictures of my loved ones, my wife, my child. My world. Alone.
STOP! Stop. Stop. Now.
I got to my feet and looked around. I needed to change my sheets. I would put the sky blue ones on, those felt so nice on Summer nights. I would change Liv's sheets too since my sisters will be coming in to visit next weekend to go see WICKED with Patrice and me and then on to a cousin's lunch and then a birthday party for our 90 year old aunt. I would go grocery shopping and buy my cereal, maybe buy a quart of that Starbucks coffee ice cream that I like so much. Get some things that Bing never buys: potato chips, lunch meat, Stouffers TV dinners. I would go and buy a bottle of chandelier cleaner and get to work on our ancient chandelier over the dining room table. I would make it glisten again. Give Socks a bath in the chipped sink in the basement, luring him down there would be the problem. He is too big to be carried now and too smart to be lured with a hot dog the way that he used to be. Maybe I would pick up a butcher's bone for him at the market and use that....
Lots to do. No need to be lonely.
My phone rings. It is Bing. I am surprised. She had said not to expect many phone calls, too expensive.
I pick it up.
Bing: Hi, sweets. I just...I know it sounds silly, I just said goodbye to you..but I wanted to make sure you were okay. I know it will be a long day for you without Livvy. Are you feeling better?
Me: Yes. Much. Thanks.
Bing: It's only been a day and all I could think was that I wanted to hear your voice. Silly, huh?
Me: No.No. I just...Bing?
Me: I found a note from Peggy in your desk...
WHY DID I SAY THAT? I HAD DECIDED NOT TO DO THIS UNTIL SHE GOT BACK!
Bing: Oh, that. I found it on my desk at school. It's nothing, honey. I get those every once in awhile from her. And okay, there was this giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup with it. I put it in the freezer. Go ahead and eat it if you want. But, not all at once, okay? Don't want to put you in a diabetic coma.
Me: Yeah? I guess I was....jealous.
Bing: Are you kidding me? You? Jealous?
She is chuckling. So, I chuckle too.
Bing: Baby, no. Just no. She's just this lonely woman and maybe a little needy and stupid. Nothing. Toss the note. I should have. I'm sorry you found that.
Me: Okay. Hey, are you having fun yet?
Bing: Right now I am totally jet lagged. Totally. It feels like late morning and it is almost nighttime here. And, Maria? I'm missing you. So much. I know it sounds dumb. I just left! But..I did something kind of goofy.
Me: What? I like goofy sometimes....
Bing: I should go, this is expensive. But...just check your e-mail, okay? I sent you a song. A drippy one. Because I miss you. I know I WANTED to go but I just...wish you were here too, okay?
Bing: Bye, baby. I love you.
Me: Bye, honey. I...love you too.
So, I went to check e-mail and there it was.
I suppose I need to dry my tears and get up and do something useful now....
One foot in front of the other...