T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Quote of the Day
Friday, November 04, 2005
I was already crying a little as soon as I turned the car off in ST’s carers driveway, thinking ahead to the moment when I’d have to hug and kiss him goodbye, knowing that I wouldn’t feel his soft cheeks or see his brilliant blue eyes for four weeks. The moment was as awful as I imagined it would be. His carers took one look at me and started crying themselves and the other kids wanted to know if I was sad or sick. I looked at my adorable little toddler and said, “OK, ST, Mom is going to Europe today and it will be a long trip. Come give me a hug and a big kiss.” He rushed over to me and kissed my lips and forehead and squeezed me tight. I was a basketcase by this point, tears spilling out onto the collar of ST’s shirt. He didn’t let go but instead looked at me, concern on his face. I realized that he’d never seen me cry before. I forced a miserable smile and he grinned back at me and started jumping up and down. “Bye, Mom!” he said, and he bounded off to play with his friends. As I drove away, he was blowing me soft little kisses from the front window. I could see his carers in the background, wiping their eyes.
I got home and sobbed, the kind of crying you do after someone has died or when you’ve just broken up with the love of your life. The hard, physical crying where you’re sad and mad all at once. I screamed in my now empty house because I was angry that I was just so miserable. The house feels big and lonely when ST isn’t in it.
I composed myself after about twenty minutes, my eyes now burning and red. T came home a few minutes later and just hugged me because he knew how terrible I felt. Then we went out for a quick lunch, chatted about his day thus far, and made our way to the airport.
I know I’ve gushed before about how wonderful T is, and I’m not going to stop now because every day I am reminded just how selfless and fantastic this man truly is. When I am with him, I can feel how strong our relationship is. It’s strange, but it’s palpable. It’s easy familiarity with a dash of romance. It’s about knowing when to talk and when to remain silent, about knowing that I like extra pickles on my sandwich only when the meat is turkey, about realizing which songs on the radio make me feel sad and quickly turning the station, about making me feel like I deserve this great life that I have. T stopped curbside at the airport and helped me unload my things (for a month away, I think I did pretty well: one garment bag, one small rolling bag, a purse, and my computer case). Then, because he knows that I refuse to tip someone to help me carry my bags (I have this incurable Midwestern do-it-yourself attitude sometimes), he helped me load them onto my shoulders and then laughed at the ridiculous sight I made. Then he hugged me tight and said, “It’s not a very long time, hon. We’ll be just fine.” He smiled gently at me and kissed me, and then we parted. I cried only a little this time. T makes me feel brave.
The flights were uneventful, the connections easy. The long trans-Atlantic flight was overcrowded and I was seated next to a man who brought two HUGE carry-ons, neither of which fit comfortably in the overhead bins and neither of which he wished to check. Instead, he shoved one of them under his seat and the other was wedged uncomfortably in front of me (I only had my purse). I swear that man had his entire life with him in those bags, and he kept loading and unloading them during the duration of the flight. As I tried in vain to sleep he shuffled away, eating his nuts and slurping down endless sports drinks.
We arrived in Europe without incident, and I made my way through the airport with relative ease. One hour later, I was in my final destination. I was met at the airport by the nice woman I’m staying with this month (Frau W), and we packed my bags into her car and took a tour around the city before heading to her house.
Capital City is not at all as I imagined it. I thought it would be hectic, congested, and unwelcoming, a mass of concrete official buildings. It is not like that at all. Instead, it is positively charming and although it is very large it feels small and cozy. Trees line the main streets. Most of all, however, it is quiet. Almost disturbingly quiet. It does not feel at all like Chicago, for example, where there is constant chatter, music in the streets, and hundreds of honking car horns. No, Capital City is not at all loud – its peace is shattered only by the occasional police siren.
Perhaps the best moment was when I saw the place where I’ll work this month, a historical building I’d read about and a building whose image is the wallpaper on my computer’s desktop. It took my breath away. It was like seeing a celebrity for me, seeing something that, for me at least, had previously only existed on paper. It was quite thrilling, in a geeky sort of way. Frau W laughed a little when I gasped in awe at the sight of it.
Frau W is a sweet woman in her sixties who looks like she is in her forties. She has been incredibly gracious with me thus far, welcoming me into her small home near the city center. The house itself is actually in what she calls a “village,” where there are four small condo-type houses in four free-standing buildings. The buildings are surrounded by giant birch trees and grass, and each condo has a little garden – very unusual in this big city. Again, I was struck by the quietness of the place. Utterly quiet – I could hear the children next door talking to their mother.
The house has two floors and a small cellar. On the main floor is a narrow foyer, a pretty living area, and a small kitchen. Up a spiral staircase are two bedrooms and a bathroom. Everything is small but efficient, which is in stark contrast to my open-plan house with vaulted ceilings and large rooms where you hardly realize that you’re wasting space. My room is nicely appointed with a comfortable bed, a desk, two wardrobes, a chair, and a small television. It is perfect for me.
I napped for four hours after we got to the house. When I awoke, I had dinner with Frau W and we looked at pictures of the Midwest, of T and ST on my computer. Then Frau W showed me baby pictures of her son, who is now 25. After that, we went to meet her son and a close family friend at a local café, where we watched a soccer tournament and chatted for a few hours. The evening was quite nice, and since I had a long nap I was not that tired.
I miss T and ST terribly. I did have a chance to email T this afternoon on Frau W’s computer. She does have a wireless router but does not know the access code, and so her son is going to set up the connection for me tomorrow. That will be nice, because then I can read blogs, do research, send email, and have some connections to my home even when I’m almost 5,000 miles and seven time zones away.
Now I have a wireless internet connection, and it is GREAT. I will update again later!