Tag Archives: separation

Reunions

In the three and a half years we’ve known each other, Mike and I have spent at least 3 weeks apart nine times now. When Mike was still living in PNG there was the three months apart right after we started dating and three and a half more after we got engaged. There were four month-long overseas consultancies Mike did during our first year of marriage. We spent about half of the first six months of last year apart before our move to Laos. And then there’s been this last ten weeks.

Mike will arrive into the Gold Coast tomorrow morning at about 7:30am, so when I haven’t been wondering whether the baby will beat him here I’ve been thinking a lot about reunions lately.

The last couple of days before a reunion I used to get oddly nervous. I wanted to be back together again but I often caught myself fretting about his return, too. What if he’d changed? What if I had? What if we struggled to find things to talk about? What if it was weird and we ended up staring at each other over the dinner table (or in bed) wondering, “who are you, and what are you doing here again?”

I’m not feeling nervous about Mike getting here this time – possibly because when I haven’t been busy forgetting all about appointments and planned skype calls any fretting I’ve done in the last ten days has run more along the lines of: “who am I, and how did I end up pregnant and living with my parents again?” So given that Mike is landing here in ten hours I’d say I’m home free this time, because even when I did get nervous in advance of a reunion I was usually beyond the anxious stage by the time I reached the airport.

I always aimed to get to the airport not too long after Mike’s plane was scheduled to land so that I’d be there before he exited customs. I wrote the following in my journal the day after one of these pickups during our first year of marriage:

I don’t mind these airport waits as long as they don’t go on too long. You can’t maintain that focused state of excited expectation for too long before it rises, crests, and transforms into something else for a while – boredom, thinking about things I need to do, anxiety. But as long as they don’t drag on beyond an hour there’s a wonderful concentration to these snippets of waiting to come together again. A profound gratitude, and amazement, that we have journeyed halfway around the world and yet again found our way safely back to each other. A wonder at the mystery of relationships, at how my life has been transformed during the last two years in ways I had never imagined.

I like standing there in the airport anticipating the moment that Mike will come through that door. I like watching other people doing their own waiting and wondering what has bought them to that point. I like feeling a part of the mystery of a thousand separate lives all meeting at that single moment like a huge tangled ball of living yarn.

Waiting in the airport is that turning point from the busyness of getting ready to have him home and the solitude of the last month. The familiar happiness of reunion begins before he even appears, although the instant of greeting is always a slightly different experience. Yesterday, the kiss I’d been anticipating – that radiant singular moment of greeting – was fleeting and not as electric I’d expected. The hug was better. All warm, and stubbly, and smelling him familiar, his hands firm against my back, tilting my face up towards him as you lift it to sunshine on a spring day.

Our last LAX reunion before moving to Laos - June 2010

What have been your experiences with reunions – what do they make you think and feel? Do you have any reunion traditions?

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Inflection points

Yesterday morning, right after we got up, I did my weekly weigh in. Apart from one ultrasound in Thailand, taking pregnancy vitamins and stepping on the scale every Saturday morning has pretty much been the sum total of my prenatal care. I suspect that my return to Australia tomorrow is likely to mark the inflection point on this issue (though I must say I haven’t minded avoiding some of the tests that sound like they’re a routine part and parcel of the first 28 weeks if you live within, oh, 500km of good medical facilities).

After I stepped off the scale and Mike stepped on, it quickly became apparent that this weekend would mark more than one inflection point. Yup, I am now officially half a pound heavier than someone six inches taller than me.

That was only the start of yesterday’s fun and games, for we spent much of the day packing, with Zulu following us mournfully from room to room. We couldn’t tell whether he recognizes now that suitcases invariably mean departure or whether he was just soaking up the prevailing mood.

After I laid out all my clothes on the bed I asked Mike to look them over with me. We’re going to be tight on weight both going out and, particularly, coming back, and I wanted to make sure I was traveling as light as possible (which, in practice, I will admit translated to: I wanted Mike to tell me exactly what I wanted to hear with regards to the decisions I had made).

He did not.

And when I got surly after he told me that he thought I should cull some of what I’d selected he had the gall to laugh and then come over for a kiss.

“I know you don’t like me very much right now,” he said, “That’s fine. I don’t always like it when you think differently than I do, either.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But that only happens when you’re wrong. I used to get to make all my own packing decisions without any disagreements with anyone.”

“Mmmm,” Mike, now busy putting my shoes in plastic bags, chose not to engage on this topic. He also chose not to point out that I used to have to do all my packing by myself too, instead of sitting on the bed and watching him fit stuff into my suitcase.

Inflection points. There have been a couple of them lately.

Three weeks ago the belly started to swell faster than a desert cactus after once-a-decade rains. Two weeks ago I suddenly got ravenous (mostly for junk food – can anyone say nutella and ice cream?). Last weekend we transitioned from the second to the third trimester. Tomorrow Mike and I go from together to apart, from hugs to skype, as we separate for ten weeks. I will go from summer to winter as I cross the equator.

At Mum and Dad’s place even my dinnertime conversation will change. In Australia we may not spend an entire meal trying to work out itineraries that might get Mike to Australia in time for the birth if I go into labour more than two weeks early. Then again, that might be because Mike and I have researched this equation every which way and figured out that unless I have a hellaciously long labour, there are none.

There are some silver linings to this whole situations – I am quite looking forward to winter weather, and spending the most time in Australia that I have in a decade. I’m also very glad I have a beautiful and happy home well staffed by my parents to go hang out in for months on end (fully a dozen years after my poor Mum and Dad must have thought they were safely past the risk of having one of their daughters turn up on their doorstep alone and pregnant).

Empty dinner table overlooking the Khan

But there’s grey this weekend, too – a great big cloud of it. I don’t like this whole separated for the third trimester thing. I would quite like Mike to be with me for pre-natal classes and for us to be able to discuss things like birth plans across the dinner table instead of the equator. I would quite like to be with him when he’s procuring things like cribs and change tables and figuring out where to put them. I really don’t like the fact that Mike is sitting across the table compiling the results of last night’s exploration of every conceivable flight route out of here into a document called, “Flight info-Mike to Aus in emergency.doc”

Sigh.

Many of my friends tell me that all of these inflection points will pale in comparison to the one that’s about to hit us when the baby arrives. Of course, some of my friends have also suggested that it will make a far better story if I go into labour the night before Mike flies to Australia and he skids, sweaty and disheveled, into the delivery room just in time to catch the sucker as it pops out.

Nope… as much as I love stories, I think I’ll be far happier if Mike arrives well before that particular inflection point.

I’ll keep you posted. Catch you from Australia.