Envy spent her first Christmas after the divorce in Santiago, Chile.
She didn’t want to spend it with her parents, or Cash, or even Virginia. She actually wanted to spend it with Marcos, but she supressed that thought. It wasn’t healthy to long for the companionship of someone who tried to kill you as you slept.
It was a gruelling flight via AeroMexico, with a four-hour layover in Mexico City, which was ok because her friend Molly was living in Mexico City, and all the family came out to have breakfast with her at the airport. She had been a bridesmaid at Molly’s marriage to Rafael, and they now had three young sons. Envy was surprised how much fun it was to be met at an airport, especially this one, which was boisterous, loud, and celebratory, as masses of people greeted travellers with joyful abandon.
Santiago was a busy, bustling, impressive, but smelly city— possibly more aromatic because of the unseasonably warm temperatures, pushing 40C. It was quiet and cool in her hotel room, and the intercom played soothing jazz renditions of Christmas carols. She wondered how to turn that off.
She visited the Plop! Galeria, which was nicely situated in a gallery and museum district, and finally met Pati Aguilera, with whom she had corresponded for months, and who happily shared her knowledge of the illustrations on display. Envy chose several prints in addition to a set of Patricia’s own works, to take back to the little gallery she was planning to open on St Xavier St. She envisioned a kind of Plop! North. Some day she would seek out more local illustrators, but for now she wanted to show the work that had so inspired her to open a gallery in the first place.
She then took her book of Nerudo poetry and spent the afternoon at La Chascona Casa Museo, where the dappled shade was cooling, the book inspiring and transporting, despite the number of tourists.
On Christmas Day, after talking to mama, dad, Cash and Virginia, who seemed to be having a very delicious, very tense Christmas dinner, Envy called Molly, and spoke to Rafael for almost an hour (as Molly was busy with children and food).
Rafe. He was “in real estate” and wondered if Envy would show him around the city next week when he was there on business. She said she would be delighted to, of course. They also talked about horses, Pablo Neruda, enamel vs latex paint, crabgrass, his eldest son’s obsession with moths, the War on Drugs, and San Diego. He was handsome. Molly was still quite beautiful. Envy was as plain as wax paper, and on the rebound. She tried to suppress a few more thoughts. It was hard.
She would not layover in Mexico on the return trip. Nor would she show Rafael the neighbourhoods of the city without a chaperone. She would ask Stuart to accompany them. Molly had not been a bridesmaid at Envy’s wedding— she asked, but Molly was seven months into a vomitous pregnancy. They had grown apart, naturally, but it was Molly who stayed up all night with her when she burned her eyes, and Molly who taught her how to hitchhike and how to kick someone in the neck. Sure, time and distance had caused them to grow apart, but she still considered Molly a great friend. Didn’t she?