“This is it,” Suze said, her tone much like that of my older sister. I knew that she wanted to sound out her definitive vision of me and my life but, she held back, she knew that I could hear the muddle of mischief and disbelief in her voice. “L-O-V-E, love—you love the man. Don’t deny it.” The more authoritative she sounded, the more she wanted me to substantiate her claims.
“I’m not denying anything,” I responded contentedly. I held the phone in one hand and the stem of my wine glass in the other. Our five o’clock cocktail ritual had somewhat changed since Suze had gotten married, popped out a son and moved to Long Island. Instead of the two of us sharing a bottle of wine on my terrace, I nursed a glass and looked out my kitchen window as she breastfed the baby in her living room and sipped a Jamba Juice smoothie.
“Listen to you! You’re so calm and assured and— Shit! The baby just bit my nipple. Can you hold on while I switch boobs?”
Aaaah… The trials and tribulations of having a lactating friend…
“I’m back! Are you there? Belle?”
“Anyway, I was saying that you’re more calm, more private—is ‘serene’ an appropriate word for a 25 year-old?”
“You’re right, everything is different, easier, you know? Things just fall into place whereas before, with the others, I felt like I had to work so hard. Now I realize that I had to put forth all that effort because it was wrong, the guys were wrong, we were wrong together—”
“Have you ever seen a bleeding nipple? Shit, I wish I could show you mine right now—looks like they’ve been through a meat-grinder.”
“Back to serenity…”
“Yeah, come on, talk to me. Tell me about the little things, the sweet stuff. Christ, at this point I’d be happy to hear about anything that takes my mind off of these giant lactating footballs that the doctor calls breasts.”
“Well, he writes me love letters,” I began, suddenly shy.
“That’s it— you have to read me one.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Suze. It’s kind of private and—”
“Whatever. You know the condition of my nipples, I can know the state of your relationship.”
“Fine. Here goes. This is an email that I woke up to this morning.”
As I climb in bed tonight my thoughts are completely consumed by you, clearly that’s no surprise, as this is the way it is each and every night. But tonight it’s different, tonight I’m not thinking about the way my hand fits around the back of your neck as I pull you close, run my fingers through your hair… your nose gently brushing my cheek… until, finally my lips find yours.
Clearly I have thought about this before.
Tonight I go to sleep worried, troubled as I think of my love in even the slightest discomfort, discouraged that you are so far away, that there is nothing I can do to comfort you, that these futile words are my only offering. Frustration. I find myself in a situation where I am out of control- I want to do something, I want to fix it (this what I do, I fix things) I want to fix you- I want to hold you close and make everything ok. Alas, I can’t. Rather I lie here a thousand miles, pulling my covers tight, wrapping my arms around nothing, saying a prayer for you, my baby… Then, just before sleep comes, I pull the sheets a little closer, whisper I LOVE YOU but no one is there to hear it… I sigh, and think of you one last time. Good night, my sweet.
“Killing me, killing me,” Suze said in what was her shorthand way of expressing unmitigated approval.
“Everything with him just makes sense. It’s easy.”
“He’s Southern, you’re Southern– The baby just barfed on my new cashmere sweater. Can we talk tomorrow? Same time, same place?”