I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.
I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.
K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.
Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American). Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.
An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.
Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.
Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.