Ok. Ready to spill. I know quite a few of you have asked me about Sven and his coming home for Christmas.
I guess you've figured it out by now. He didn't. Come home.
Things started to tank a couple of weeks ago. He had been answering texts, writing animatedly about coming home. Bringing his new girlfriend with him. A waitress at a Red Lobster in El Paso.
Then all texts just stopped. I mean dead stopped, as in nothing. Nada.
To Liv. To me. To his mother. I didn't know this until I saw her about a week before Christmas. We were both collecting our mail. She smiled at me in her timid way. I smiled back. She slowly walked over to me. Asked me very, very quietly if we had heard from Sven.
I said no. She nodded slowly.
"Me neither," she said. "It's like he's fallen off the face of the earth. Not a word in the last week or so."
She said that her tree was up and gifts waiting for him nevertheless.
I smiled. Said that maybe he had just been very busy. I lied. She knew I was lying. But we both needed to lie.
On Christmas Eve, I walked over to her house with some pumpkin bars that Bing had baked. She smiled, took the plate, thanked me. Her eyes were so sad that I could barely stand it. I asked her if she'd heard anything. She shook her head.
"I know he's alive," she said. "I sent him a new phone. He's been using it. But, he's no longer in El Paso. Now, he's at a Motel 6 in Austin. I have a tracer on it. But, he isn't returning texts or phone calls."
I went to hug her. She very stiffly allowed it. Thanked me for the cookies. Shut the door firmly.
I went home and shared the news with Liv and Bing. Liv shocked me by knocking over a chair. She isn't prone to physical tantrums, never has been. This time, she neatly kicked the rungs, tipping it over hard and then blurted, "I think he's a big creep. His mom must feel so badly!"
And then she stalked up to her room. Bing and I just looked at each other.
"I'm inclined to agree," Bing sighed. "I feel so badly for Linda. She decorated her house and everything. The first time in three years. He's fallen off the wagon. You know that's what's happened. It's the holidays. Party time. He fell off the wagon."
I nodded, didn't say anything. Later, I went up to check on Liv. She was sitting at her desk, earphones in, quietly doing homework. I caught her eye, tapped my ear and she took the earphones off.
"Well," she said. "He quit with the drugs on my birthday. So that means that he lasted for almost 5 months. Maybe he'll do it again sometime."
She sounded so....grown up. I guessed that she got the worst of her disappointment out when she kicked the chair. I sat on her bed and patted the spot next to me. She sighed a little reluctantly and came over and sat with me.
I gave her my speech about drug addiction. How it is very, very hard to kick a drug habit. That sometimes it takes more than once. That we have hope now. At least we know he has the desire to quit. He lasted 5 months this time. Maybe next time, he would be able to kick it.
She said she agreed. But, there was something new on her face. Gone was the complete idolatry that she's had for Sven from the time she was a baby. In it's place was a coldness, a look of bleak determination. She was not going to let him into her heart again with any ease. If there was a next time. He'd have to work for it.
I told her that we could talk about Sven any time she liked. She shrugged and returned to her desk.
"No need," she said. "I'm over this. I need to finish this paper. It's due when I go back to school on the 8th and I don't want to have to work on it when I go to Denver with Dad, so I need to get back to it, okay?"
I said okay and leaned down to plant a kiss on her head. She looked up at me, completely dry eyed.
Those dry eyes worried me more than if she had been crying. I fear that she has inherited my ability to put on a good show for everyone around me and cry only when alone.
We still haven't heard from him. Liv says that she hasn't sent him even one text. I've sent a couple. One wishing him a Merry Christmas and today I sent a Happy New Year one. No response.
So, limbo again. We'll live with it and keep him in our good thoughts. Or I will. I think Liv has pretty much banished him entrance to her heart. For now. And that's fine. We all need to protect ourselves the best we can.
But, I still miss him. Still think of him. Still wonder if those hits on my blog that I get occasionally from Austin might be from him.
For now, we have to let this go.
Bing is safe and sound in India. She sent me a text last night, asking that I boot up the computer to do something called facetime. She decided that this should work better than skype.
I immediately booted it up and there came the ringing on my computer, asking me if I would decline or accept her call. I accepted, of course.
And there she was. She looked tired. She walked her ipad around the room, showing me her new digs. They seem nice. She said the temp was in the mid 80's. We talked, a little shyly at first. And then we were fine.
Bing So, how're things? Have you been deadbolting the doors at night? And when you leave?
Me: Naw. I keep everything unlocked. I plan to go dance naked in the driveway at midnight tonight.
B: (smiling): That's my girl! How're things in the Shire?
This is Bing's quaint way of referring to our home. I said everything was fine, fine.
B: Hey, next time when I call, why don't you just shuck off your clothes and we can do some naked facetime?
Me: It might be 87 degrees where you are, but it's 2 degrees here, darling. But, you can be naked. I'm good with that.
We talked for a while about the restrictions she had encountered in New Delhi (or "Delhi" as she called it...kind of like we say "L.A." for Los Angeles, I suppose), that before she caught her flight into Mumbai, she stayed at the Fulbright house there and when she said that she was going out for a walk in the morning, they insisted that she have two security escorts with her. She said that the city is shut down a lot since the rape/murder of that poor woman.
I chastised her for even thinking of going out by herself. She retorted that she was a 53 year old woman who looked like a man. This, of course, infuriated me. I reminded her that rape had nothing to do with finding some nubile 20 something, that rape was a crime of violence and wielding power, not picking some hot chick. She looked properly chastened.
She told me that Mumbai is much less restrictive, that she had ventured out (during daylight) with her roommate, a woman who teaches movement therapy to mentally handicapped children. That the roommate wore Chanel # 5 and this drove her a little mad.
I wear Chanel #5.
I laughed and said that I was seriously thinking of changing fragrances since the Brad Pitt commercial. She was quiet for a sec and then looked directly into the camera at me.
"The first time I saw that commercial, I thought of you. I think it's absolutely a Bing/Maria commercial," she said.
I glanced away, the piercing of her eyes making me suddenly uncomfortable.
I thought of something odd then and told her about it.
"This morning I took down the tree, " I said. "It took forever and after it was over, I was getting ready to get in the shower and I leaned down to pick up shampoo and I um...sort of could smell myself."
"Like b.o.?," she asked.
I smiled. No, I told her. My vagina.
"And you know what?" I asked.
Her turn to smile.
"I know," she said. "You smell different. I've been noticing it for the last few months."
That stopped me.
"So, like do I smell better or worse?"
She grinned. "Neither. Just different. Like you usually smell kind of lemonish and now you have more of a salty smell."
I wasn't sure if this was good or bad, so just left it there.
She smirked at me. "I guess you could take a poll on your blog......," she said, teasingly.
Well, I count that as a dare. So...I guess my question to you readers is: Has your smell ever up and changed on you on your private bits?"
I'm sure she never thought I would actually ask.
Which is exactly why I have to.
We stopped with the body talk then and went on to discuss more mundane things. What kind of mail she's received (nothing special), if there is snow in the forecast here (chance of flurries), and if the Cornhuskers had a chance of winning their bowl on New Year's Day (they lost 31-45)....
Bing yawned and I reached out to touch the screen.
"I miss you," I said.
"I miss you more," she replied.
We sat silently looking at each other. I was startled to see her eyes fill with tears.
"You have the most beautiful face," she finally said.
"Then get back home," I challenged.
More silent looking.
I sighed. "Spring will be here soon," I finally said, talking first. She nodded. Bit her lip. I knew that she was holding back tears and instead of touching me, this sort of pissed me off. It wasn't MY idea that she leave, you know. But, I didn't say that. No use ending things on a sour note.
"One last thing before we say goodbye," I said. "I've decided that I'm dying first. Because I don't think I can be a widow, Bing. I think that will have to be your job."
She reached out and touched the screen, I touched her hand with mine on my screen.
"Love you," she said.
I started to say that I loved her too, but she ended the call before I could. So, I just said it anyway. Socks looked up at me from the floor.
I think he said that he loved me too in dog language.
People disappoint you. They become addicted to drugs and fail at kicking their habit. They have a midlife crisis and decide to travel out of the country before they are too old to travel.
They hang up before you can say that you love them too.
But, life just sort of goes on.
So, I guess the important question here is: Does your vagina ever start to smell differently and if so, why? Did you ever find out?
I'm sort of smiling now because I would much rather be cheeky than maudlin.