Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Lonely Traveller and the One Left Behind

My husband left yesterday afternoon for a conference in Washington DC and will be gone until late Thursday night. I hate it when that happens! It's not as though it happens often--he travels just once or twice a year. I'm not upset that I am alone here with the kids for all of those days either. We will be just fine and will be doing all sorts of stuff to stay busy until he returns. I guess I hate to see him go because A) I really like hanging out with my husband and B) I don't like being the one left behind even if it is to go to Home Depot and look at router bits.

When my husband was in graduate school in Pittsburgh, I had positions with two different companies that required a significant amount of travel. One job required me to fly to Raleigh, NC every other Monday and return that Friday. It was hardly a glamorous job and I grew bored with the same hotel and the same sit-down chain restaurant diet, but I didn't see him much anyway, so it worked. Then I joined another company that required a lot of travel to different places around the country. Some months I would travel once, some months I travelled 3 out of the 4 weeks. Again, it wasn't glamorous. I wasn't staying at W Manhatten like my friend Laura does for her buying job. I was typically at a Hampton Inn or maybe a Marriott in Davenport Iowa, Charlotte, or Florence, AL. But at the end of the day, I always felt that what I was doing was marginally important for the company and was proud to represent them wherever I was sent. And while I called my husband everyday and really missed him, I was the one who wasn't left behind, so the travel didn't seem so bad.

So when the shoe is one the other foot, I am really unhappy about it. But I shouldn't be. This week, my husband will be surrounded by thousands of people in his field, but since they are Chemists, you can be assured that 85% of them are complete science geeks who have virtually no outside interests and tremendously overblown egos. My husband will be spending the majority of his off time going to a baseball game, running, drinking a beer or going to the Spy Museum alone. Many of these people believe that cutting loose is having 1 watered down lite beer and talking about quantum physics or whatever their specialty may be. For most of us, that would be Snooze Fest 2005.

My husband called me last night after he had eaten dinner. He had planned on eating at his hotel but he quickly discovered that his wardrobe was not appropriate for the restaurant. This surprised him as his room is a dump and his window has a view of an airconditioning unit for another room. Instead, he walked to Capital City Brewing Company, a fantastic brew pub we used to go to when we lived in Maryland. When he got there, he went up to the bar and was completely surrounded by Chemists, including a Chemistry Historian (who knew?) who tried to start up a conversation with him. He said he suddenly experienced a deja vu. He remembered a magical Saturday many years ago in which we spent the afternoon with our friends Peter and Jennifer. At the time, we each had boxers and they were playing in the back of our car that was parked outside. The dogs were having a blast romping around and we were having a blast drinking. He remembered people coming up to us and asking about our dogs and raving about how cute they were. Mercury and McBain always got attention wherever we would go so it was no surprise that people were approaching us. Corey got extremely choked up by the memory because Peter, Mercury and McBain all left this world at different times, and much too soon a few years later. He told me he left the bar and sat at a table by the window with his beer and his memories.


Missy said...

Wow.... that made me get up and go in the other room and kiss my hubby,just because I could. Hope the week goes fast.

kimmyk said...

Aww poor Hubby.
I have been left behind more times than I care to remember. Everytime my honey's unit was sent overseas for this war we were left behind. Our days went fast though because we were in a routine (school, work, sports, homework, baths and then to bed). I always thought we were the ones who were alone, but it was really him that was all alone. He had no smiling faces to brighten his day like I had. As time passed and deployments became more frequent time at home became most important.
I hope his week goes as fast as yours will.

Mainline Mom said...

I know exactly how you feel. I used to travel all the time and leave hubby home by himself. He was fine with that. I enjoyed it, no matter how unglamorous. Now I stay home with kiddo and hubs travels alot. I hate being left behind. I like hanging out with him.

Oh, and I'm making him take vacation to stay with the kid so I can hang out for a few days with tens of thousands of sewage geeks (wastewater engineers) in DC in a couple months. I am a Chemical engineer and I must say that we really do know how to have a good time at these meetings.

Mary P. said...

Hmmm. I feel out of the loop here. My sweetie travels a bit. Not a lot, but a few days every couple of months. I love it. I love the space, I love sleeping on the diagonal in the bed, I love not eating if I don't feel like it, I love being with my kids with no audience, and I love hanging out by myself.

I love him to bits, mind you. He and I have a deep and intimate connection. We love each others' company, talk about everything. It's exactly what I've always dreamed of, and blissfully found at the age of 34, but it's undeniably intense. Add to this that I'm always surrounded: by my kids, by the daycare tots. Sometimes the space is a good thing.

Or maybe it's just being over forty. I never used to be this way!

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

I was thinking about Peter yesterday as we drove home on the thruway. "Fall on Your Knife" came on (Peter Murphy), and I spent the next 20 miles or so immersed in that summer.

Candace said...

Ugh, I'm crushed by your last few sentences.

1. Because my husband's name is Pete and the thought of him leaving this earth before me literally wakes me up in fear some nights.
2. Because you put it in such a heartbreakingly beautiful way.

Susan said...

Man, everywhere I go today the Internet is making me weepy--this is such a lovely post.

And I hadn't thought about Capital City Brewing Company in years.


Corey said...

I must say, this is probably the first time I've read this blog. Invading personal space and all. But you've summarized my feelings about my day at Capital City better than I ever could. I have another evening meeting, and I will then go to CC for another memory.

Mother Hypocrite said...

4 words. Lifetime: Television for Women.

My husband gets to go to Europe! For weeks at a time!! And I get to hang out and clean the bathroom.

That's why I'm so glad I have my other husband -- Lifetime: Telvision for Women!!