It’s been well over a year since I returned from my summer course at New York University. I know I had promised you a mini-series about my trip, my course, what I did there and what I recommend. I covered a part of it in the first post of the series last year (A New York Summer: Part 1) and if you’ve read it, you know how terribly I missed my husband while I was away. Little did I know, how terribly he missed me.
This is something I wrote in my third week in New York City.
I always thought that between my husband and I, I was the sentimental, love-struck fool. When I left for a 6-week publishing course in New York this summer, I knew I was going to be an emotional wreck. But my husband? No way. He was “the man”. He’d be the one providing all the emotional support I needed, because I was the only one who needed it. Right?
Well, it turns out, I’m not always right.
It started off the way one expects it to. I teared up the second my flight took off from the International Airport in New Delhi, and bawled my eyes out the first 48 hours in New York. My suddenly-nervous husband stayed on the phone with me almost every waking hour that first week (mine, not his!)
Then, school started. On my first day of summer school, he didn’t want to get off the phone. He kept saying, “Call me in your break. Just call me whenever you need to. Don’t think about the time.” At first, I thought he was just trying to be my pillar of unending unconditional support. But as the days have passed, I’ve realized – he needs me as much as I need him.
The first night he had to sleep without me on the other end of the phone, sleep didn’t come as easily for him. The first night I had to sleep without our end-of-the-day-conversation, because it was outrageously early in the morning in India and he’d been running on just a few hours of sleep for almost 1 week, I bawled the next morning because my life felt incomplete without speaking to him every few hours. He changed his Facebook profile picture to one of his favourite photographs of us, and I, for the very first time in my life, made my husband’s face my phone wallpaper.
He asks me to send him a picture of my hands and feet, because seeing them daily has become an odd-yet-undeniable part of his routine. And I send him a picture of every new thing I see in New York, big or small, because the thought of having a really good time without him just doesn’t seem realistic.
He stays on FaceTime, quiet, waiting for me to fall asleep at night. And on the weekend, I furiously type away on my laptop finishing assignments, while he goes off to sleep with FaceTime running in the background. He wakes up in the middle of the night, searching for me on the bed. And when he realizes how out of reach I truly am, he calls me up and says things like “I’ve been fooling myself all these days.” I watch him sleep, hear him sleep, and sometimes wonder if FaceTime is a blessing or a curse, allowing me to pretend nothing has changed, but in another instant making me realize exactly how far away I am from the life I know and love.
The 9 and a half hour time difference has made this no easy feat, adding the time dimension to an already complicated, incomplete, absurd way of life we’re supposed to adopt for the next several weeks to come. My mind wanders occasionally, wondering how other married couples do this – living apart for a few weeks (and in some cases, YEARS), for a little bit of education. While I’m sure this summer course is worth the pain and every penny, experiences such as these help you boil down all of your life’s meaning into a single name – and I eagerly wait for the day I get to wrap my arms around the only thing in the world that matters to me.
8th June, 2014
Manhattan, New York