She left for a business trip today, my lady-friend did, and she will be gone for a week. 7 days. And nights. Including a weekend. There will be no one else to read bedtime stories or entertain early morning risers and no one else with whom to share a nightcap or lie next to me in bed to debrief, conspire, giggle and other such things in the dark and quiet of our room.
And when she returns, when the following week is already underway, she will be jet-lagged and useless and definitely not interested in Homecoming Kanoodling. She will not arrive home and drop her bag, pulling me into her body initiating a fantasy sequence that I cannot share with you here imagining the day the children find the blog. She will, instead, drop her bags and tell me that she was kind enough to sort her clothes into bags of whites and colors, and I will be grateful for I am the self-appointed family laundress.
She has traveled for work in our past. I am not unfamiliar. It has been a while, though. She used to travel much more often, actually. She left a few days here and there and then 11 days in India when Levi was still months old and I celebrated my birthday by myself. By then, I was used to stretches of time without her.
She has not traveled for work in years. Now, it’s a week, and I’m out of practice. I know it will be fine. Truth be told, she works long hours as it is, and I am used to managing the nighttime rituals on my own. But I can’t remember what it’s like all day, all night, all day, to be on call 24/7, without a net.
When we lived in London, we did not own a car. We did not need a car. For seven years, we made our way around town by tube, bus and taxi. Our American licenses expired without notice. By the time we knew that we’d be moving back, we realized that at least one of us needed a license the minute we set foot in the U.S. I studied diligently and took lessons (from a horrid man who clearly would not have been employable in any other job besides Driving Instructor except possibly Cat Food Tester). It was quite a feat passing that test, one that I must detail at another time, but I did it only to return to my native land feeling completely unprepared to take the right side of the road once again after such a long absence.
I knew it would all come back. I knew I simply needed to keep the lane divider on my left, and I’d be fine, but I was anxious. Then with a toddler who was not used to or happy about spending time in cars and one in utero, misplacing organs inside of me as I folded myself in front of the wheel, I was uncomfortable and petrified I’d kill us all. I was not in a good place to take to the New Jersey roads, infamous roads known for turning streets into corn mazes from hell with little chance of escape. Of course, I was fine in time. I just needed the practice. But now, there is no practicing. This is it.
There is plenty of food in the house and gas in the car, and the boys are at camp for more hours than they were at school. I have nothing to fear, and yet. And yet, I cannot stop imagining myself falling down the stairs and cracking my head open as soon as the boys leave for the day only to be discovered at 5PM, twisted and twitching at the foot of the stairway. It could happen any day of the week, but I’ve decided it will happen when Gabriella is away, for a week. 7 days. And nights. Including a weekend.
I can’t wait for her to come home so I can do her laundry, knowing she will rescue me from the emergencies in my mind. In the meantime, I will keep calm and carry on because I have no choice. Also, I will inhale the gallons of bean salad she made for me without fear of offending anyone with the vaporous aftermath. I guess there’s an upside to solitude.