Saturday, June 28, 2014

Scrub Noses

As I see the photos of Elise and the kids' vacation in the Pacific Northwest and read the text message updates of them having bowls of warm clam chowder at Ivar's while they watch the ferries sail in and out of the Seattle terminals, it's hard not to be jealous. I am feeling especially emotionally tenuous as it is. I am flying on fumes. Four hours sleep is not quite enough. Almost, but not quite.

I drove to the airport at 11 last night to greet a new family arriving to India. I sat in the car, dozing off occasionally. When I opened my eyes, I saw steam coming out of the hood. I elbowed the driver. He hopped out of the car and lifted the hood. A small hole in one of the coolant lines spewed steam in our faces, and a puddle of water ran from the bottom of the car to our feet.

Within seconds, a dozen helpful Indians surrounded us. Thankfully, the crowd included a driver from the German consulate who took a strip of plastic and carefully knotted it around the hose at the risk of steam burns on his fingertips. A few bottles of water later and we were good to go again.

At 2:30 we were finally leaving the airport, the family and their twoo cats having arrived safely, sadly without their car seat which would hopefully arrive tonight. And a little after three I was finally in bed, only to have to rise a few hours later to come back to work.

I have never felt further from Elise. It doesn't help knowing she is on the other side of the planet. I cherish modern technology and the ability to, if nothing else, catch up on her days and nights and try to absorb some of the stress single parenting as bequeathed to her via text message. I am learning to use emoticons, among other things. Early on, we texted each other pictures of chicken legs. I don't remember why now, but at the time it was hilarious. Perhaps, in retrospect, it was one of those "you had to be there" moments.

Last night, before heading to the airport, a friend and I went to the a trivia night hosted by a gaggle of Brits. I quickly concluded I need to hang out with the British more often. Our team, the Americans, faired miserably, products of our declinging educational system, no doubt. To be fair, how much are a bunch of Yanks supposed to know about cricket, the Queen, rivers in Wales, rugby, and British medals of honor.

I met a friendly Brit named Andy, a bear of a man, with a scruffy beard and graying hair askew from a recently completed tennis match. He was married to an American woman living in New Hampshire who, sadly, was not able to join him in India due to her ailing, elderly mother. He had six kids, perhaps from different marriages. I was dying to know, but didn't ask. He told me he had trouble sleeping, and often rose at four in the morning and walked 75 minutes from his home in Bishop's Garden to work through the busy streets of Chennai. I quickly took a liking to this man. He seemed honest, though melancholy. I was missing my wife, too. Perhaps, in that one commonality there was kinship.

As I see pictures of Sam, Petey and Clementine, I hold the phone screen close to my face and touch my nose to it. When I put them to bed and, sometimes, when I wake them up, I "scrub noses" with them, rub our noses together like polar bears in a Coke commercial.

I am standing in the kitchen as I write this. I often put my laptop on the kitchen counter in the morning when I wash dishes. One morning a month or two ago, I was listening to the Band of Horses "No One's Going to Love You Like I Do". I wasn't paying attention, and Elise snuck up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist right around the two minute mark in this song.

We held each other tight and wiped tears from ours eyes, knowing how lucky we were.

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