An ode to a man much missed

I’d got used to the silence after you’d left to live in Islamabad. It had settled around me. I’d snuggled down into it. I’d occasionally interrupted it with friends, with endless episodes of favourite TV shows on Netflix, with phone conversations with family, with days spent at my desk working. I’d got used to the daily chats with you on Skype, you on the sofa in the quiet new home that next summer will explode with the sounds of me and our babies, and me in the flat in France that we’d so happily occupied together. I’d got used to cooking the meals for one, to sleeping alone, to waking up without you. I’d put a picture of you beside the bed, an indulgence I’d never needed when I could open my eyes and see the real thing.

But then you came home. Miraculously. Surprisingly. Gorgeously. You had two days of work in Geneva but hadn’t mentioned it to me. We’d spoken on Skype on Tuesday evening, then you’d packed your bags, got in a taxi to the airport and got on a plane to take you to Dubai, and another to deliver you to Geneva. Then a taxi brought you home to our door in Divonne. You rang the doorbell and I didn’t answer it – it was two o’clock in the afternoon and I was working, expecting no-one, still in my pajamas. So you came in. When I saw you I stood frozen to the spot for about five minutes. For about four hours I couldn’t actually believe that it was you. That you were there. But then I realised that the silence had evaporated. I didn’t need to snuggle into the silence anymore, when instead I could snuggle into you.

Before our babies were on board, we used to do stuff. We’d get out and explore whatever amazing world we happened to inhabit. We’d drive or walk for hours. I’d take thousands of photographs to document our experience. We’d visit and sightsee and soak up. But we don’t need to go out to experience amazing things now. All the amazing stuff is happening internally – inside our home and inside me. When you were here this weekend, we didn’t need to go out and feel the rush of cold wind on our faces on a hiking trip, when instead you could just sit on the sofa with your hand on my belly and feel the movements of our growing sons. We didn’t need to visit Geneva and hear the canons commemorating the Escalade, when instead we could just laugh out loud together and be filled with joy that the tiny ears of our babies are now developed enough to take that sound in.

I don’t miss the lovely stuff we used to do. It will all still be out there when we’ve safely delivered our gorgeous little aliens into the world and we can spend our time introducing them to its infinite wonders. It’s the small things that have become huge to me now – you wordlessly doing the few chores that you know I particularly hate having to do, or walking into the bathroom when I’m in the shower just to chat or to say something that will otherwise be forgotten. Just to keep the silence at bay.

But now it’s Sunday and you’re working in Islamabad again tomorrow, so today I drove you to the airport so you could get on a plane to take you to Dubai and another to deliver you to Islamabad. And then you’ll get in a car and drive to an office where people are expecting you, where no-one will stand frozen to the spot for five minutes, unable to believe that it’s actually you. That you’re actually there. And tomorrow afternoon we’ll speak on Skype, you sitting on the sofa in the new home that next summer will explode with the sounds of me and our babies, and me in the flat in France that we so happily occupied together.

For now, it’s late, and I’m going to bed alone, your picture propped up on the bedside table beside me. I feel our tiny aliens wriggling. And in your absence, I snuggle once again into the silence.

Missing out (and Moaning Monica)

Moaning Monica
Moaning Monica

Have you ever seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother when they talk about the Blitz? The Blitz is the person who always misses out on the best of the fun. He might decide that nothing much is going on in the pub so he’s going home for an early night, then after he leaves something amazing happens and the night ends up being legendary.

I’ve always hated the idea of being the Blitz. I’m much less energetic now than I used to be but when I was younger there was no way I’d decline a party invitation. What if I missed out on something? And once at the party I’d often be among the last to leave; what if something incredible happened at the end of the night and I missed it?

I always think that not very much happens in my current non-working life. When someone suggests something to do I almost invariably say yes without consulting a diary, because I never imagine that there’s anything else going on. So when my lovely friend C, who I hadn’t seen for a ridiculous four years, suggested that he come to stay with me for some of the Easter break then I visit him in his home in Malaga for the rest of the break, I shouted a resounding “Yes”!

But once we’d started to make plans I looked in my diary. Paid work is rare for me these days but at the moment I’m inundated. So there’s that. Then it’s this week that I’d said that I’d go to Zurich to catch up with a beautiful friend who’s here for work for two days. And the first proper reunion of the cast of The Vagina Monologues happened last night. And the monthly photography club meeting is held this morning, and the fortnightly book club meeting tonight. And I’ve committed to the 26-day A-Z April blogging challenge, and signed up for the 365 (photography) Project. Oh, and M and I are going hiking in Interlaken for five days tomorrow.

So why the hell am I not able to clone myself to be in more than one place at a time?! And why do I have long weeks where nothing at all is going on, then weeks where I have no choice but to miss out? Too disappointing!

I’m not complaining really. I’m here in Zurich with one lovely friend and about to catch up with another. But in terms of other stuff going on, I’m the Blitz…

Sometimes, though, I have the tremendous good fortune of being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. I’ll be forever grateful to the universe for conspiring to make it possible for me to be in the room when the magnificent Monica performed the piece entitled, The Woman Who Loved to Make Woman Happy. Moaning Monica was a-MAZING. The rest of us did our best but she utterly stole the show with her genius, humour, sexiness and sassiness. She put the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally to shame.

Moaning Monica, you were majestic.


Is Fiction A Waste Of Time?

I so wish that I were able to see the world from a thousand different perspectives and experience the lives of others. Sadly, though, I’m stuck with my own rigid point of view, which is why I value fiction so highly – it gives me the chance to learn not just what happens to other people, but how the world looks through their eyes. “Is Fiction A Waste of Time?” is a brilliant analysis of why literature equals life.