For two decades we’ve slept in different cities at least half of the work year. First it was me traveling as a corporate college recruiter and trainer. When our babies arrived, he picked up the frequent flier mile accumulation until a national consultant lured me back onto the road. Whether sitting in economy class, first class, or on a corporate jet, a family person is always alone at the end of a day of business travel. Hundreds of airline miles wait for us to take a trip together. But who wants to get on a plane?
Crisp sheets in a nice resort suite or worn linens in a chain hotel never have the familiar smell of our family clothes detergent, the pillows are always too flat or too puffy. I picture you sitting in front of your laptop too late into the night when you call from Paris or Rome. I picture you lounging in your favorite leather chair when I call from Ireland or Chicago or Milwaukee. When you’re gone I work crazy hours and sleep lightly.
Tonight the house is extra quiet. We tried to squash everything we needed to discuss into the twenty-four hours between the time I got home Sunday and your departure Monday—taxes, house repairs, parents’ health–and fell asleep holding hands. I worked in my office Monday with the sounds of you carrying up the stairs. Sometimes that interrupts the flow of my writing and I complain, but usually your voice on phone calls merges with the music in my office like home-brewed white noise. A dog can’t make those kinds of sounds.
Things click and crack. The washing machine buzzes in the basement. Lights give empty rooms a false sense of waiting for someone’s arrival. Nothing to watch on television. A new book doesn’t grab my attention. Back to work. If it’s ten o’clock here, you’ll be awake in two hours. We’ll talk in the afternoon as you get ready for bed. Have a good day.