leaving on a jet plane
It’s likely a sad state of affairs at home if you’re looking forward to an upcoming business trip. Or, it may just be that, like me, you’re a working parent, and looking for whatever opportunity you can find to escape the reality of your life.
Tom travels for work more than I do, and for a while now, despite his protestations to the contrary, I’ve suspected that his trips are less onerous, and more enjoyable, than he has led me to believe. There was the trip to Anchorage that he returned from blabbering on and on about how he could spot bald eagles and orca whales from his office window. The rigorous retreat in Scottsdale from which he returned with a tan. The recruiting trip to Ann Arbor, coincidentally scheduled during the week of the Wolverines’ home opener. The trip to Chicago, from which he returned heavily conversant in both the architecture of that city, and deep dish pizza. After a recent week-long trip to Seattle where he was supposedly working so hard that he managed to call home only four out of six days, he came back looking like he’d spent the week at Canyon Ranch, with bright blue eyes popping out of a face glowing with health, and five fewer pounds on his frame.
And why not? Anyone who tells you that spending a night in a hotel with room service is rougher than dealing with the daily reality of a 5 and 2 year old, is yanking your chain, and yanking it hard. Tom texted me the photo above during the aforementioned Anchorage trip, from his twilight run along the water. I can only assume that he was rendered momentarily senseless by the natural beauty, because he is well aware that the only thing I want to hear from him when he’s traveling is 1) how much it sucks, and 2) what gifts he will purchase to make it up to me. When I received this photo on my phone, I was mopping up the second glass of milk my toddler had spilled on our rug, while simultaneously trying to pick every piece of cilantro out of my older kid’s beans and rice to prevent a meltdown. Basically, by sending me this photo at that stressful moment, Tom managed to ruin for me, not only the entire state of Alaska, but also, nature itself.
Why so tense, you ask? Because, when Tom is away on business, I’m back home, wasting away from stress and exhaustion, and being eaten alive by my offspring. During Tom’s trips, I go through stages, and those stages look a lot like this:
Day 1: Invincibility. I got this sh*t in the bag. If only I had more kids and a night shift at work, to really challenge myself.
Day 2: Martyrdom. I am working hard so that Tom can work hard. I am a good wife, and deserving of jewels.
Day 3: Anger. I have my own damn job, and my own deadlines, and why have I never noticed before how much I hate making lunches? Also, if these kids want another book read to them, they should try their dad, except I guess they can’t, because HE’S NOT HERE.
Day 4: White hot rage. Yes, it does feel good to throw all of Tom’s cufflinks and stupid collar stays on the floor. Think I’ll put them back in their stupid little tray and do it again. And yes, I think I will clean the tile grout with his Sonicare.
Day 5: Surrender and acceptance. This is my lot in life. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps I can dull the pain with online shopping.
Anything longer than five days, and Tom simply risks returning home to my dead body, drawn on by washable markers, covered in cheerios and yogurt, with one withered hand gripping a half-finished legal brief and the other clutching the remote control, frozen in the act of searching for just one more episode of “Dora the Explorer.”
So today, it’s my turn. I’m in a shitty hotel, after a turbulent airplane ride and two missed exits on a California highway. And I’m loving every minute of it.
Now, if only I could stop missing those boys.