Eleanor meets her parents in the dining room of the hotel. Her father is on his way out to meet Dr. Chaudhri, a colleague & long-time friend, another Nobel prize winning physicist like him. Her mother wants to go shopping for a gown she needs for a political fundraiser she'll be attending when she gets back to Massachussets
The woman just goes on & on about her political activities. Eleanor's father finally gives up waiting for his chance to greet his daughter & leaves to meet his friend.
Eleanor is in some ways her mother's daughter. She doesn't know politicians & diplomats personally the way her mother does, but Eleanor can talk the talk.
The Rodeo Drive Plaza is only fifteen minutes from their hotel, but Eleanor's mother nagged about her driving the whole way over & then complained about the traffic as they got into the boutique.
The only time Eleanor ever had fun shopping was with Justin. She's not particularly into dresses, and her mother looks like a bitch no matter what she's wearing.
Eleanor closes her eyes, thinks of Justin, remembers all the things he's said to her, and for that moment she's in his arms. She wonders if that is love, after all, and if maybe that is the sort of thing a girl should be able to discuss with her mother. But Eleanor has read her mother's poetry, the perfect use of language, each word perfectly chosen, perfectly placed, cold & fragile beauty, like icicles. She doesn't want to ask her opinion on matters of the heart.