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Close your eyes and think of England

August 4, 2011

This morning I had to schedule a phone appointment with someone in the U.K. (on British Summer Time), book it into my office calendar (on Eastern Daylight Time), all while in Illinois (Central Daylight Time). I think a couple of my brain cells may have exploded. If I actually pick up the phone on time, it will be a miracle.

The horrible weather we’ve been having has broken for a couple of days. I have all the windows open, even though it is making me sneeze even harder (I cannot quit you, cold!). It smells good in here for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, the exterminator is coming this afternoon, so the good smells are probably short lived. I’ll enjoy them while I can. However, I am getting very tired of centipedes falling on my head while I sit at my desk and ants parading around the kitchen and bathrooms, so I think it is a worthwhile sacrifice.

I’m not sure how it has come to be Thursday already. I think the hardest thing about this travel schedule is that you are always either packing or unpacking. I’m also starting to panic about the fact that I may not have enough clothes to get through 5 days in a row at the office (last week I only did three). I also did not manage to get my hair cut. That will have to wait a couple of weeks I guess. This is a very weird life we’re living right now. I feel like two people at once.

The work at home part, though, seems to be going okay. I spend a lot of time on the phone. And it’s a little hard to read some of the office culture issues — but I imagine some of that would be true even if I was there and that it will all get easier as we get used to each other. My rule of thumb has been, “When in doubt, check in.” And that seems to be working for the moment. I’m also overly punctilious about staying by the phone or computer, which is probably not strictly necessary. I haven’t quite figure out how I’m supposed to get to the hairdresser. Or the grocery store. I’m not even sure what time I’m supposed to knock off. Or what time zone I’m in at all. AJ is entertained when he sees my two computers sitting next to each other on my desk, one with its clock set to Eastern and the other to Central.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if the time zone really went right down the middle?” He draws a line in the air with his finger to indicate the narrowness of their separation. “Probably sometime when you’re in the airplane it is.”

“Probably it is, but if you blink, you’ll miss it.”

He blinks on cue and we both laugh.

We are not talking much about my impending departure, but I think the reality of what we’re doing is starting to sink in.

“This time, when we Skype, can you show me around the apartment?” AJ has still never seen New York. This time I need to find a way to send some pictures. He wants to know what an apartment looks like on the inside. His idea of New York apartments is limited, as was mine at that age, to the colorful illustrations of Ezra Jack Keats and the line drawings in Jean Stafford’s Elephi, The Cat With The High I.Q.. I assure him that unlike Elephi’s apartment, there is no room for a Volkswagen in this one. I start to wonder if he’s concerned that his life here has not changed so very much. There is still football practice and back-to-school shopping and boring summer afternoons, the best kind of boring.

But my coming and going is becoming its own routine, even as we do it for just the second time.

For the past few days, because of my illness, I’ve been working from my bedroom instead of my office, staring into the trees and hearing the horses whinny in the pasture beyond. When I’m on the phone to New York, which is often, I hear sirens and, if they’re in one particular conference room, the mechanical thunks of the elevator on the other side of the wall. The sounds underscore the differences between where I am and where I’m going. I like both sets of sounds. Both define their places. But it’s strange to be hearing them all at once.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Cranky permalink
    August 4, 2011 9:52 am

    I’m scared at the idea of you walking AJ around my place, especially since it’s in the MY BABY IS SICK state and probably will remain that way. Good luck on the call.

  2. eleanorio permalink
    August 4, 2011 10:25 am

    This entry reminds me of all the nights I slept on my daughter’s couch listening to sirens in the city and voices outside her apartment door. I have been in the country so long, surrounded by forest and deer and the occasional fox that I don’t think I could move back there. I’m always so anxious to get home to the peacefulness of this pagan place.

  3. August 4, 2011 12:19 pm

    And I’m the exact opposite. I get very antsy when I’m in the country and it’s so dang quiet. Too quiet! Even this last weekend at Boothbay Harbor, there was almost no ambient light pollution at our hotel. Geeze, it gets very dark at night. And quiet too. Did I mention the quiet??

    Yeah I don’t love Boston but I do love urban living.

  4. August 4, 2011 4:21 pm

    Surely if you need more clothes, you could go shopping on your lunch hour. Do it like I do, from the computer…
    I had my fill of trying to sleep in urban areas when we were in England. God, the sirens! What are all these emergencies, all night long? And the people talking. And music. It’s like cities…never sleep. Wait, there’s a song coming.

  5. August 4, 2011 9:52 pm

    My first apartment in Hyde Park was a garden apartment at 5482 S. Greenwood, directly north of the Reg, and right on 55th Street.This meant that I got all the traffic noise from that thoroughfare, but the one thing that I remember was when the Bulls won the championship in the summer of 1993 (the first three-peat). The honking and noise from the cars was fantastic, even though I was alone in the city. The window needed to be open, and the warm city breeze was wafting in, as was the glow of the orangey street lights.

  6. IWOM permalink
    August 6, 2011 10:31 am

    My Better Half needs to take you for a drink and teach you how he takes a call with Japan in bed, goes to work and talks to Singapore and Paris then takes an NYC call when he gets home at night and manages to sound alert and on form for all of them!

    It will get normal after a while — and THAT is the scary thing….

  7. August 7, 2011 8:30 pm

    I really do like both, Eleanorio. I love listening to the waterfall in our backyard when the windows are open and the occasional owl or coyote (I could live without the squabbling raccoons). But I also like the city noise (within reason) and the pigeons on the windowsill in the morning. Hugh, when we moved to London, I was fascinated with the orange glow of the sky. I’d never seen anything like it before. IWOM, you will be glad to know that I survived. This week I may need to manage someone in Hawaii, but at least my computer and I will be in the same time zone. And I did, in fact get my phone call right. Phew! Nevertheless, I’d still take him up on the drink.

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