Driving to the airport at 11pm to drop Mike off for a four week and one day trip to Indonesia. Mike has been making fun of Lisa for being sure to be exact on that front every time it is referenced – four weeks and one day, precisely. Lisa maintains that when it comes to separation misery, precision is important lest the magnitude of the anguish fail to be grasped – four weeks and one day seems a lot longer than just four weeks.
Lisa: “I hope you have a really good trip – good work time, good seeing new things time, good thinking time.”
Mike (sighs): “I think it’s more likely that I’m going to get there and everything will be a giant mess – what tsunami project wasn’t a mess on some level? – and I’ll just have to do the best I can.”
Lisa (trying to strike a balance between encouraging and realistic): “Yeah, I think so too.” (Then, realizing she has utterly failed on the encouraging front, if not the realism)… “But I’m being an optimist.”
Mike: “It’s good of you to take that role occasionally, but I just don’t have a happy feeling.”
Lisa: “Me either, no happy feeling. But…” (still scrambling to find encouraging) “I feel hopeful!”
Mike: “Hope.” (Sighs again). “That’s nice.”
Goodbyes. We love them.
Lisa’s been at work today. Mike’s been doing the laundry, the shopping, cooking dinner, and trying to figure out how to get a letter from the Indonesian government authorizing his visa to Banda Aceh for next week’s planned departure.
Lisa: “Ah, the smell of clean towels. I love them!!” [Then coming out of the bathroom and kissing Mike]. “And I love you.”
Mike [suspicious at this sudden show of enthusiastic affection]: “Do you love me more because of clean towels?”
Lisa: “No, the clean towels just remind me of how much I love you.”
Mike: “Nice save.”
Lisa: “Are you sleepy?”
Lisa: “Why do you get sleepy within two minutes of lying down?”
Mike: “Because it’s late, and it’s dark, and I’m normal. The better question would be why don’t you??”
[A minute later]
Lisa: “Do you think Jesus ever had a toothache?”
Lisa: “I was just wondering.”
Mike: “Yes, I think he did.”
[A minute later]
Lisa: “Are you going to tell me a story?”
Mike: “Repeat after me, beds are for sleeping, not stories. Beds are for sleeping, not stories. Beds are for SLEEPING. Not STORIES.”
It’s cold. Lisa jumps into bed and squirrels over to Mike’s side.
Mike (moving backwards, trying to escape): “What are you doing?”
Lisa (sweetly, very sweetly): “I just want to be close to you. I can’t go to sleep without cuddles.”
Mike: “That’s not what you want, you want…”
(Lisa makes contact with her target)
Mike: “AH! Your feet are icicles! You’re a heat sucking parasite!”
Lisa (hugging tighter, lest he escape): “But I just loooooove you. That’s all. I just want to be close to you.”
Mike: “Awww, could you be just a bit more pathetic when you say that next time? That’d be great.”
Lisa (abandoning sweetness): “Oh, you’re fine, stop complaining. You wake up hot and sweaty at midnight every night. You have plenty of heat to spare.”
Mike: “Not right now I don’t! It’s not midnight yet, is it? Fine. If you have to lie here at least lie still and stop slithering around so it doesn’t feel like small, cold animals are running up and down my legs.”
Lisa: “You don’t seem to mind small, cold animals when you’re scuba diving.”
Mike: “Well the fish don’t touch me now, do they?”
Lisa and Mike are touching base by phone during Lisa’s lunch break. Lisa’s updating Mike on contract negotiations regarding an assignment in Sudan and Chad.
Lisa: “The organization we were thinking of partnering with isn’t too keen to submit the proposal or manage all the logistics for the on-ground work.”
Mike: “I’ll manage them… if it’s set up so that you report directly to me.”
Lisa: “You don’t have on-ground experience in Chad.”
Mike: “Neither do you.”
Lisa: “I’m not being interviewed for the role of logistics manager, you are.”
Mike: “I know people who’ve been to Chad. I can find Chad on a map. I’m totally qualified. But remember, I’ll only take it if you report directly to me.”
Lisa: “Nice try. Don’t you have some laundry to do?”
Mike: “Do you trust me to do the stir-fry?”
Lisa: “I totally trust you to do the stir fry.” (Fifteen worried seconds later). “Just, don’t put any water in it. And don’t use the olive oil. And you might want to wait until the oil heats up before you put the garlic in there.”
Lisa makes a concerted effort, and stops talking.
Ten minutes later.
Mike (looking mournful): “Aww, this is too runny.”
Lisa: “Why? You didn’t put any water in it, did you?”
Mike: “Just a little bit.”
Lisa: “I’m not the only defiant one in this relationship.”
Mike: “I wasn’t being defiant, I just wasn’t trusting. And, yes, we both have that problem.”
Mike and Lisa are having breakfast and talking about The Moth GrandSlam next Tuesday. Lisa hasn’t figured out which story she’s going to tell. She is much more concerned about this state of affairs than the fact that she will shortly be late for work.
Mike, who can see the clock from where he’s sitting, glances over and jumps up.
Mike: “You’re going to be late – you better go put on your makeup.”
Lisa: “I have my makeup on!”
Mike (realizing the gravity of the moment, crosses the kitchen and takes Lisa in his arms): “OK, let’s review. Why do women wear makeup?”
Lisa: “Mostly for themselves, obviously.”
Mike: “And why is that?”
Lisa: “Well, because they want men to notice and love them!”
Mike: “But what’s the problem with that?”
Lisa: “You don’t love me!”
Mike: “Clearly, yes, that’s your problem.”
[Lisa stands still and lets herself be kissed.]
Mike: “No, the problem is that men don’t notice. You want to wear makeup? You’re on your own.”