…and Max the king of all wild things was lonely
and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all…
— Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Now into the third week of a four-week work trip, I’m starting to feel the effects of separation from my family more intensely. I enjoy traveling…it’s fun to go to “where the wild things are” and break out of the old routine for a while, but it isn’t long before I begin missing the comforts and joys of hearth and home.
Staying in touch is pretty easy these days, with cellular phones, e-mail, and instant messaging, and that helps. There’s still no substitute for the closeness of my family. Sight, sound, smell, touch…all the little things that add up to their presence with me.
I become acutely aware of how dependent I am on my wife in social situations. She breaks the ice, draws people in, keeps the conversation moving along. On these trips, without her, I find myself standing around a lot with very little to say. One of the very first things I loved about her is that I could talk about anything with her, completely free of the inhibition and reticence which has plagued me all my life. We can also have very complex conversations without a single word passing between us, warm and at peace in each other’s arms. I am most “me” when I’m with her.
I miss my kids, and realize just how much joy they bring to my life. Sometimes it seems as if my primary role with them is referee or fixer-of-problems, but there are lots of little smiles, and hugs, and laughter, and the simple incongruence of all the completely absurd crises they bring into my life on a daily basis. They’re fun. They keep life interesting and surprising.
Ah, well. I’ll be back to Kansas in a week, probably thinking nostalgically about sunshiny days on white sand beaches with the rhythmic rush of ocean waves whispering through tangy salt air, and not a crisis in sight.
But I’ll be home, where someone (four of them) loves me best of all. The best of all possible worlds.