Thursday, February 5, 2015

Good morning Empire State Building

Every morning when I wake up I roll up the curtains in my bedroom and say good morning to the Empire State Building. It mostly looks dark when I wake up, contrasting the color party it has at night. One night it is blue and red, the next night, green and yellow. Some nights the peripheral lights are neutral and white. When Zoe gets here I'm going to take her up there so we can see if we can also see our bedroom from the top.

I also say good morning to Zoe's picture which sits on my desk shelf here at home; I have another picture of her in my office. She looks at me like she is a bit skeptical of what I'm doing, as if she is not sure if I'm being all that clever about things. I might not be clever about all things but one thing I'm sure I'm doing right, is being here in New York. I love it. I love the ease of communication with people, the contact I have regularly with strangers and the randomness of familiar strangers. The other night I befriended an upcoming broadway star in a restaurant who happened to know the waitress, who happened to be the lead singer in a show Zoe and I watched this summer. She offered to babysit Zoe when she gets here, which I graciously accepted. I love the university and my office. We sit in open office space which means I have to just turn around to share an idea or a problem that I might have. The group is tight-knit with two grad students and two post-docs, all of whom I like and already think highly of. My professor colleague has a stream of industry connections and academic colleagues coming in to visit constantly, which not only mean free lunch but also makes me practice those elevator pitch skills that I had forgotten in Sweden where nobody really cares what you do. Here, I have to fit my research into their frame of mind each time, highlighting either the sociological or the technical aspects of my work. We go to lunch together and chit-chat. Nobody comments on me being a woman in a man's world (even though I still am). Nobody jokes about spousal abuse (which my head of department proceeded to do in a workshop in Stockholm). Nobody walk too close to you with the aim of sliding their hand across your waist (yep, we have two rife cases of sexual harassment at my university in Stockholm). People are serious here, they work long hours. I do too. And I love it.

Yet, last night my stomach went into a knot again from missing Zoe. It physically hurts and I'm wondering if she feels the same. Last week I was back for six days to see her and it was wonderful just being around her. We stayed in a hotel close to her daycare and we watched DVDs without end, together in the bed and ate croissants in the cafe for breakfast in the morning. I sat there with my coffee staring at my amazing, adorable, clever little girl and decided that this was the best moment of my whole life. Her and I, just sitting together talking, eating, being together. My body was at ease and my mind was shooting little happy neurons around in my brain. I don't remember what we talked about but it doesn't matter. We were together. In the end she crawled up on my lap (which she did constantly that week) and held me. "Mor", she said, "I like you SO much". This is her way of saying she loves me.

Flying back to New York was a mess. I missed my connection in Munich and it took me waving my gold card while crying to get rerouted on another airline through London. But I made it back in time for my class the next day. My stomach still hurts from missing Zoe but in exactly six days and eight hours I get to see her again. And then there will be no end to the happiness. 

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