Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm not telling this right. Lydia would want to throttle me, except she's met Sevario, so I don't need to fill in the details.

I could say what he looks like, facts like height or build or his curly hair, or his eyes that shift from laughter to inquiry like clouds drifting across the sun. Now I'm being melo-romantic.

But it's more the pull that I feel when I see him, the shudder when I hold his hand. He is my warm home. He, more than anyplace, feels like where I belong.

After dinner, we walk down First Avenue to Pioneer Square. By now, the neon is now, the bars are starting to fill, and the wind rolls off the bay at every intersection.

I nestle in close to Sevario, even though I'm used to wind and cold weather. I want this.

At the hotel, we climb the narrow flights of stairs to our small--and warm--room.

This is good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The sun is already low over Puget Sound. It's a brisk afternoon, and I shudder.

"Is it the wind, or the evening?" Sevario asks.

We're sitting outside, and soon the bus boys will come to turn on the lamps. But for now, light plays the water's ripples like a mandolin, a thin vibrato across Elliott Bay. Then the gulls interrupt.

And I'm a little nervous.

We're spending the night here before we make the drive back to South Bend. I'm feeling virginal and I'm sitting across from a man who is a question mark, a question mark I'm feeling crazy for, and I don't know what to ask.

That makes me nervous.

"A little of both, but I have seen darkness before." Too many months of the year.

Fortunately, the salads arrive, and Sevario tells me a little more about his conference.

"I still don't get how a travel writer ends up covering Microsoft."

"I needed a way to see you. Do I sound crazy?" He is laughing. It is unreal. If this were a movie, something terrible would happen right now. Or something wonderful--that no one would believe.

"Very resourceful." Time to take another bite, sip some wine. Yes, I am the awkward girl.

"And I'm glad you came. But you know--"

"Shhhh-- let's eat and enjoy this. Oh, and let me tell you what they served for lunch."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is an hour to wander. I'm at loose ends, odds with myself or just odd. The company's campus erupts with flowers, so I walk the paths while people hurry past, caught in complex conversations. I feel grateful for the sun and the blooming. I don't know how I'll find my way back to the building where Sevario is, but I find a pond and a bench and I sit and knit and feel absolutely out of place, and it's so nice out that I don't care.

His meeting has become a conference, so I will be here for a while, and I don't have a badge, because I hadn't thought of that. Eating and peeing become primary concerns. I ask a woman about a visitor's center, and she reels off the name of a building. I need a map. People aren't unfriendly, they're just distracted, or I'm the distraction.

I figure distracting a receptionist isn't so bad, and she gives me a map with the building circled. It's a jaunt, but I still have hours. So much for a day to spend with my--lover? We've been taking this very slow, and now it's too slow. I'm too into this to not know what it is.

Yuck, I'm starting to sound like pop-psychology, the dog-eared books that no one checked out of the high school library.

I think maybe we'll talk on the ride back. I'm ready to talk. Talk is not what I want.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sevario drives like a mad man!

He's from a big city. He knows traffic. He battles it.

I'm not from a big city, and I live on the outskirts of time and geography, watch out for reindeer and hard weather.

By Tacoma, we're out of talk again. Traffic streams through town, and then we're back on the outskirts, passing car dealerships and auto-body repair shops and sex-toy stores. Get all your shopping done at once.

I grip the arm rest and try to move so that he can't tell.

"You're nervous."

"Up here--we need to take this exit."

He sidles the car across three lanes of traffic and onto the ramp to Highway 520. Now we're at the choke point, and we crawl the bridge through Portage Bay. It's beautiful--one of my favorite views.

I want to ask Sevario more about this meeting, or interview, that he has. But I'm afraid I won't understand any of the details. For the fifty-second time I wonder what we're doing. And he puts his hand on my thigh and he hums a little tune and the sun burnishes the lake.

Why do I need to know what we're doing?

Because I need to know where I'm going next, and who I'm going with. I've been floating down the currents for seven years and I'm almost 30 and yes, I miss Henry. Yes, it's been easy to dream about a life with him--safe because it's impossible. But now I'm sitting in a car with a man who lives hundreds--and hundreds--of miles away from anywhere I stay, and he swerves into the left lane.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Long stretches of silence. Taut at first, the way it is between two people who just met.

Easier when the sun comes up, and the roadside streams by us. I begin to feel comfortable.

I'd feel better asking questions, but we've been through the usual inquiries after family and work and his recent travels and my mother's health and my sister's reticence.

"Your sister doesn't like me."

Becky has been very formal, distant--the way you'd treat someone you just bumped into accidentally on the train.

"It isn't that. She doesn't know you. She just needs to worry about something, and Mom's doing better, so she's back to worrying about me."

"I don't want her to worry."

We round the edge of the Sound, join the Interstate's northward rush.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sevario fits in with my family beautifully. It's like watching a stranger enter your life. He is a stranger entering my life.

He tells wrestles with the boys and tells them stories his trips to the Galapagos islands. He cooks for us, becomes a fixture in the kitchen and fills the house with spicy warm aromas. As much as I enjoy having him here, I can tell that my mom enjoys it, too--and Becky is nervous. I always thought I was the nervous one.

"How did you meet him?" She's asked me.

"Have you?" No.

"And he's coming all the way up here to see you?"

Good question. And I want to be a trusting person--and yes, I've wondered. But I like him, I feel good about him, good with him--and it's not like he can cheat me out of anything because I don't have anything.

"It's just my bad luck to meet men who live far away."

She sighs and twirls a dishrag. I sigh and think she asks for too much.

On Monday, we climb into Sevario's car before dawn cracks. He has a 10:00 AM interview at Microsoft, and this is really the first time we've been alone since he arrived.

The highway winds through the darkness, the acres of trees on either side like invisible sentinels. I can feel them there, but I can't see them.

"Your mother does not look well."

"What do you mean? She looks fantastic."

"She looks so frail."

"But if you'd seen her a month ago…"

I'm comparing apples to apples. Mom a year ago would be an orange. She is getting stronger.

"So are you going to stay here?"

"Everyone asks me, and I don't know."

"Because of your father?"

I look out the side window.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Saturday hangs long. I pin the wash on the line and sweep the kitchen five times, and Mom teases me. She's enjoying this.

"You know, if you had your license, you could have picked him up?"

That's a long drive. For anyone.

"He wanted to get his own car. He's a journalist."


She's definitely feeling better.

The wind's blowing in. The sheets and blouses snap on the line. Questions fly through me like flocks of geese. I am obvious.

"Maybe you should bake a cake."


"Just trying to give you something to so."

That was her way to cope. My father would leave, and my mother would bake. A parade of pies, with fruit she'd canned in summer, and cakes--Black Forest, German Chocolate, Lady Charlotte, Angel Food, Devil's Food. We ate our way through winter.

I am not in the mood for butter and flour just now.

Gravel curves up the drive from the road. At about five o'clock I hear tires.

Sevario is getting out of the car and I kind of hurry toward him and then I slow down, not sure how to look, how to act, what to say.

"Welcome to South Bend." We hug, a distant-cousin sort of hug. My mother's on the front porch.

Sevario holds me at arm's length, looking at me.

"I almost can't believe this. I'm here."

I almost can't believe it either.

"Come meet my mom."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

He left his number. Crazy long distance, but you do only live once. That's what my mother says when I mention it. Living still feels like a scary topic of conversation--what we want so badly.

I sit on the little stool in the kitchen alcove and dial the long string of numbers. (Dial--I remember when phones had them.) Will he sound fuzzy?

"Hola." He doesn't.

"Hola, Sevario. Soy Misha."

Now he speaks quickly, and I have to think quickly to keep up. He has a ticket. He's coming up. Don't leave for Norway yet.

I ask how he gets the time off. I wonder how he can afford it. I realize that I'm slightly obsessed (can you be slightly obsessed) with money, with not having money. In my usual life, it doesn't come up, because I don't need much. But here, and thinking about traveling, meeting Henry.

Henry. I'm spending dollars a minute on the phone and my mind is wandering between these two men.

And Sevario is actually coming. He says he travels so much for work that he doesn't take many vacations. And he's pairing it with a story on Microsoft, right near by.

I explain that it's actually hours away--a lot of hours. He brushes this off. He can meet my mother, my sister. He tells me his flight details. He's coming in a week.

We have spare bedrooms. He doesn't want to impose. He'll find a motel room. I tell him it might be rustic, or rundown, or just plain crappy. The Chamber of Commerce would not be loving me right now. He says not to worry.

I hang up and all the feelings zing through my body--wonder, worry, bliss.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I sink onto the old brown sofa. Mom is feeling better, so we went driving around and did a little shopping. She must realize that I don't have a valid license anymore (not even in Norway), but in our spring fever we're complicit.

I've got some soup heating on the stove, Mom's dozing in her favorite chair, and we have a while before Becky whirls in with the boys. When I ask about her husband, she doesn't say much. I'm hoping this is a good thing. As if I'd know.

Mom stirs.

"You know, you really don't have to stay."

Part of me sinks deeper.

"Are you trying to get rid of me?"

She holds a sigh in and then lets it out.

"I just don't think you're going to stay happy here. Don't you want to be with your friends?"

More than anything, but that's only half of it.

"I want to be with you."

She has another check next week. If it goes well…

I can smell the soup coming to a boil. I start to get up.

"I forgot to tell you--you had a call this morning. From a Sevario?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

"I could work at the drive-in."

"It's high-school kids at the drive-in."

"They have a help-wanted sign."

"Don't you want to spend the time with Mom?"

I take that as a jab, a guilt-cicle stabbing into this spring day.

I start to explain about the anxiety--about Mom. I don't want to get into my doubts about my life. She's my sister, but that's still too fragile. She knows me too well.

"Misha, you're going to leave, anyway."

I'm trapped.

"I don't know."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The house feels like it's swarming with kids. It doesn't take many to fill the rooms, full spectrums of joy and whining and fighting and playing. It's fun. After school, I take them on long walks, and then I come back to stay with Mom while Becky's family heads over to her house.

It's a pattern. I'm getting used to it. I think about not going back to Norway or Chile. The days are getting longer, and so it's easier to think that.

Lydia's letters are worded carefully, to avoid any allegiance. And what do I have there? A shop, friends, light. Here, a family, all of it I've got. How could this be so hard?

And on another day, I realize that I just might miss the solstice, that I'm missing my favorite season in my favorite place, and then it feels hard, a tearing kind of hard.

All this time lets me wallow in worry and wondering. I need some kind of a job.