By Sherri Caldwell
They say misery loves company. I wouldn't say I'm miserable, but I do find myself missing Vicki. She's been my favorite company almost daily for four years. She left for Hong Kong on January 20th, and after the agony of separation and the torrent of tears at saying goodbye as they left, I managed the first 30 days fairly well. I was surprised to realize it had already been a month on February 20th, but that's when it hit--hard.
They also say bad luck comes in threes, and I believe that to be true. Aside from the bad luck of Vicki leaving, which was enough for the month of January, my personal trifecta of bad stuff started in late February:1) My personal computer sickened and died; 2) The dishwasher disaster saga began; and 3) I took my Chevy Tahoe (which I love, in spite of everything) in for service...which is always a bad idea, because I had to take it back twice for the parts they didn't have when I managed to clear our schedule enough to survive a full day with one vehicle the first time...and then not a week later, we went to take the kids to school--and it wouldn't start. Nothing. (All this at 15,000 miles--this shouldn't be happening!) Clearly, that was #3, so it was with a certain amount of relief that I resolved the dead battery situation--at least it was still under warranty!
It was in the midst of the trifecta that I really started missing Vicki--
The Five Things I Miss The Most:
- Vicki's daily AM phone call from her cell phone while she was out walking Lucy. Our morning phone calls were never anything earthshaking, but we started every day with a little gossip, a little commiseration and usually a good laugh about something. We've managed the transition to daily email, but it's not the same: you don't notice mindless chatter on the phone; try writing it down and it's just, well-- mindless chatter. We can't interrupt each other every fifteen seconds with something even more funny to start off a whole new exchange.
- My other kids, Clayton and Lillian. And it's not just because my kids miss their mates terribly (and the attempts at substitution have been less than successful, which is a story for another time). I have enough trouble putting up with my own kids, and I'd finally found another two that I truly love--great kids who got along well with me and mine. Lillian actually talked to me! Little girls are notoriously difficult to befriend. It took me a long time to work my way in with that one--I just don't have the heart to start anew.
- Seeing Lucy the Great Dane walking Vicki briskly through the neighborhood when I'd drive out on a morning errand. I saw a woman with a blonde ponytail speed walking along the other morning, and nearly crashed the car slowing to find out where Lucy was. I had to swerve away with a weak wave--"Oh, I don't know you after all--I momentarily mistook you for my best friend who's just moved to Hong Kong..."
- Cocktail hour (waiting for the bus). I'm now picking the kids up at school in the afternoon, which is nice and saves a lot of hassle not having to interact with the unpleasant neighbor everyday. It was okay when I would walk down the street and meet the bus at Vicki's house every afternoon, but having to meet them at the stop at the other end of the street is more than I can handle on my own without a mudslide or a margarita!
- My Personal Crisis Hotline--Vicki was my go-to girl when I needed anything, when I found myself on the bare edge of sanity--and vice versa. No one else will listen to me whine, complain and obsess over the stupidest things with such sympathy and understanding. I have no one else to exchange or leave kids with in a pinch. I'm on my own with recipe crises--I actually have to go to the store when I need milk or eggs. And the handyman/car emergencies--I've got no backup!
As an example, from a recent email:
"...just one of those moments when I would have picked up the phone to talk and commiserate on life and all the little annoyances. I can't even write it out, because it's all just little stupid stuff. You know--like the dishwasher repair guy coming out yesterday and supposedly fixing the damn thing (after almost two weeks without). It was running when I paid over the $170 and he left...I came home later and eagerly loaded up all the skanky dishes overflowing the sink, put the soap in, closed it and pushed the button--nothing. And now they expect me to go another week, hand-washing, to sit around and wait another whole day for someone to show up and not fix it..."
You see what I mean--
So we've made adjustments:
- We figured out the time difference: she is 13 hours ahead in Hong Kong. (My 11am breakdown is midnight for her, she's already in bed.)
- Thank god for the Internet and email. We've even figured out Instant Messenger, and can chat real-time when one of us is up late and the other is online too.
- The kids are learning the value of sibling playmates and the truth of my favorite saying: "Friends come and go, you'll always have each other--so get along!"
- We're looking forward to summer, when Vicki and the kids will be in Florida and we'll have a week together.
- We're trying to be more outgoing, talk to other people, make new friends and play dates. However, I've already been roped in to over-commit to outside activities without Vicki here to remind me: "Just say NO!"
I'm not miserable--life is good and life goes on--but when times get tough, I miss my girl!
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