Good morning from Toronto, Canada. Yes, that’s right. I’m in back in Canada. No, nothing’s wrong. Yes, I’m sure everything is fine. I’m fine. I just happen to be here this week instead while my husband is in Daytona.
When I was first thinking of titles for my blog, I considered “Florida Life, Trophy Wife,” but that implied that I was inaccurately first, very fit, and secondly, treated as a commodity. But it’s also inaccurate because I’ve learned I’m actually a thesis wife. I live at the mercy of his master’s thesis, and rightfully so for now. His whole life’s work is worth a little sacrifice from me, too. I am at the mercy of its deadlines, abstracts, defences, and all that comes with finishing a master’s before immediately beginning a PhD. It has meant cancelling a trip to Miami to see U2 perform last month. It now also means cancelling our honeymoon to California next month. I had counted on these trips to give me a sense of action, a sense of time passing.
So far each day, my action and my time is centered around mealtimes. I’ve come to count on this as guaranteed time with my husband. We’ve been spending every meal together at our new dining table. I’d also started to view mealtimes as chores. They certainly didn’t scream as much fun as U2 or wine trains. (Yes, heaven exists, in the form of the Napa Valley Wine Train.) No, I was not cooking them all. Those lucky few who have seen me first thing in the morning know it’s like watching the evolution of Homo erectus, rolling out of bed, dragging my knuckles on the ground. I’m usually greeted by a cup of coffee handed to me in my favorite, shameless I ❤ Me mug, with CBC Radio 2 Morning’s Tempo already playing as my husband cooks his own breakfast. But I do the clean up. Lunches, too, mean time together, even though depending on the pace of my day (slow or slower), I may have already had lunch or only just had breakfast. I still help prepare his lunch and sit with him while he eats. And then clean up. I will take full credit for every evening meal, as well as every evening meal clean up.
These past two weeks have been thesis crunch time. This means my husband goes straight from the shower out the front door (in pants), does not get time away from the lab to have lunch at home, and usually doesn’t make it home for supper, either. At first I relished in it. I happily eat leftovers and old food (sometimes to my digestive detriment). Bag of microwave popcorn? Don’t mind if I do. Whatever meant doing the least amount of cooking and cleaning, I was loving the break.
But it started to also mean finding myself getting ready for bed before my husband got home. Some mornings I’d wake to realize he’d come and gone while I was sleeping, and some days he hadn’t gotten home at all. Days started to slip by and I realized we hadn’t had true, face-to-face conversation in a while. And since he’s the only human I know in DB, that meant days without true human interaction for me at all.
I’ve come to appreciate the loneliness he must have felt living in DB for two years before I came here. Because though I was apart from him, I wasn’t ever alone. I had my dog, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my neighbours, literally a symphony of people surrounding me. Now suddenly stretches of days are just me. On Sunday, I ended up at Target to buy a giant area rug in an attempt to cheer myself up. Something plush to lie on when I wallow or eat dairy. The rug is indeed fabulous, though its tricky installation (like a fly under a fly swatter) was a reminder that one is the loneliest number.
My intention isn’t to make people to feel bad for me. I just need to be honest, because some days are harder than others. They can’t all be filled with cauliflower fried rice and sunshine.
On Monday, I thought I was in the thesis homestretch. I thought it was over by Tuesday. I thought I’d see my husband again on Tuesday. Just as a rowdy thunder and lightning storm was starting up, I went to the gym to channel my inner-Jane Fonda to pass the time. Unbeknownst to me, the clubhouse was struck by lightning, causing the apartment’s key fob entry system to crash. Locked in a gym, my own personal hell. But what was most telling was when the manager came to unlock the door and save me, I didn’t flee the gym instantly. I was just happy to talk to her. It was the most conversation I’d made in days. Then came the text from my husband saying after Thursday we’d have more time to spend together. Wait. What? After Thursday? Three more days? I couldn’t wait to be locked in a gym again for my next exchange. I had to take immediate action.
So that’s how I ended up here, in Toronto, on Tuesday. Where I’m visiting for three nights & three days to see old friends, new friends, and family who are also friends. I found a really cheap round trip flight out of DAB, the little airport around the corner. Right before booking I called my husband to make sure it was okay I leave for a little bit, although I’m not sure he would have noticed I had gone. The trip is already glorious, and I feel sane again spending my time with people. Eating dinner, with people. Laughing out loud, with people.
But in the hours between booking and boarding, I felt this wave of wifely affection wash over me. In the event my husband did get home for a break, for a meal, I wanted things in the apartment to feel like I’d never left. I restocked his favorite oatmeal and yogurt. I chopped salad vegetables, I baked chicken breasts, all left in see-through glass containers. I moved the store-cut watermelon bowls in front of the beer. By midnight, I was soaking basmati rice to make it fluffier like he’d once requested (I don’t listen to every tasting note he gives). And after trying to get an hour’s sleep before my taxi, there I was, standing over the sink, scrubbing the pot from the rice at 2 a.m. so there’d be no dirty dishes left for him.
Lying in bed, I realized it was okay to feel lonely. It was also okay to take the time and effort to fix that. I realized mealtimes weren’t chores or obligations, they were my favorite times of day. I just really missed my husband. I missed reading a book on the couch with my feet crossed in his lap, trying to tune out the Star Trek Next Generation he was watching. I missed how getting ready for bed felt like having a sleepover with your best friend, ON A SCHOOL NIGHT. (But without the KFC popcorn chicken delivery, we are dieting, remember.)
So already before stepping one foot on the plane, my absence was making my heart grow fonder. There’s still a good chance I’ll make it back to the apartment before he does on Friday morning. But already I will appreciate the next meal we share together more. Instead of teasing him when he’s shocked a Mozart overture is being played before Saturday Afternoon at the Opera‘s time slot, I will love that he’s making conversation. With me.