I walked into the condo late afternoon after my lunch with Russell. Jess called from the bedroom where she was busy packing for her annual European trip to visit auction houses and galleries looking for prints for her gallery. She was originally scheduled to leave the next week, but a rare print she had been looking for had emerged in a gallery in Rome and the owner, a long time friend, was holding it for her. She was off to get it before he changed his mind so she was leaving a week early on a late flight tomorrow.
“How was lunch?” she asked as I walked into the bedroom.
“Okay, I guess. Actually it was very strange. He’s changed so much and I felt . . . yeah, I felt dumb and uninteresting. He’s experienced so much done interesting things, let go of his old life, our old life. Am I in a rut? Do you think I’m in a rut?”
“No, not at all. You’re being a successful attorney in a good firm, doing what you have always wanted to do. Why would you think you’re in a rut?”
“I don’t know. You’re right. I am doing what I wanted, I guess. His life isn’t my life. He just got me thinking. Maybe we need more adventure. Do some traveling.”
“Dana, I have enough adventure and traveling. I’m leaving for seven weeks in Europe for work and I don’t think I could handle any more travel or adventure in my life. Maybe you need to take a trip somewhere, somewhere fun, like The Bahamas? Or maybe someplace in Mexico like Cozumel?”
“Maybe. Neither sound much fun . . . alone. Never mind. Sorry I brought it up.”
“I need to finish packing. Let’s go for dinner before the concert tonight. You still want to go, don’t you . . . after your lunch with him, I mean.”
“Sure, I really want to hear them again. How about Mexicali around 5:30. I can call for reservations. I’m going to lay down and rest for a while,” I responded all too unenthusiastically.
Dana finished her packing and went down to the gallery and I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. Thoughts kept flooding my head: Am I happy? Am I really committed to Jess? Am I really a lesbian or does Jess just make me comfortable? Do I need a change in my life? She’s leaving for seven weeks. I have no real friends, just people from work. Do I do the same thing again while she runs around Europe . . . the same thing which is absolutely nothing? Russell and Hanna, Karen and Mick, they all seem so free and happy. Am I happy? God, Russell is so damn sexy. Was I stupid to let him go? Would he have changed? Probably not . . . not with me anyway. I’m not like Hannah, I’m just a boring lawyer.
I must have dozed off, I heard Jess calling me, “Hey, Dana, time to get ready to go.”
I know I was distant during our dinner and the concert. They did all different material from last night and it was great. Afterwards, we left without waiting around to see them. We didn’t talk on the way home and went directly to bed. I couldn’t sleep. Too many questions were running through my mind. I finally took a sleeping pill at 12:30 and awoke at 8:30 with Jess gently shaking my shoulder.
“Hey lazy girl, you going to sleep all day?” she said with forced cheeriness as she handed me a cup of coffee.
I blinked my eyes awake and saw the time. “It’s Sunday, a day to sleep in,” I said groggily with a sleeping pill hangover.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I lied and said, “Yeah, I just had a hard time getting to sleep so I took a sleeping pill. Coffee’ll wake me up.”
“You take a whole one? A half is usually enough for you.”
“Yeah, a whole one. I know, I know.” I wanted to add, ‘Mother’, but held my tongue. “What time do you have to leave for the airport?”
“I have a cab coming at 3:00. That’ll give me plenty of time for check in, security, and a glass of wine or two before boarding.”
She was taking an all night flight and would sleep comfortably in her first class seat. She’d arrive in Rome sometime tomorrow. I usually worried about her flying and when she’d arrive, where she would be staying, if she’d be okay, but this time, none of it seemed to matter. I was ready for her to be gone. I wanted to be by myself. For the first time in three years, I didn’t want her around, I wanted to be alone.
I spent the day reading. There was little communication between us . . . an uncomfortable silence had settled in. As usual, Jess was going over and over her itinerary, trying to make sure all her time would be well spent and productive. She would have a number of auctions to be prepared for, meetings with gallery owners, drinks, dinners, a whirlwind schedule. Me, I would be here, wondering who the hell I really was, old boring me, alone and bored.
At 3:00, she took her suitcase and carry-on, gave me a kiss on the cheek, then looked straight into my eyes and asked hesitantly, “Will you be here when I return?”
I couldn’t meet her gaze and looked away, hesitated and, trying to keep my voice from shaking, replied, “I don’t know, Jess. I’m sorry, but I really don’t know.”
She took a deep quivering breath, turned and left.