Friday was the day where everything culminated. It was the semi-yearly paper deadline for me for one of my two main conferences and my research group and I were submitting two papers with my name on it (four altogether in the group). I had barely slept the past few nights because paper writing and editing was of course taking place up until last minute but I did manage to take a yoga class in the morning to try to fix my, by now, broken body. My grad student back in Stockholm texted me (about something else) and it turned out that she was looking after Zoe that evening. I asked to talk to her and we skyped while they ate sushi and I dug into one of the little phone rooms that is needed in an open space office environment. We chatted lightly but then came the question she always has: "when do I see you again mommy?" When can she come back? I told her it was another many many days and she got mad, saying that she wished she could just go on a plane now and come see me. And if she couldn't fly alone, why couldn't Daddy just take her. She started crying and so did I. Before we said goodbye she said what I sometimes say "Mommy you are in my head all the time, all the time". We shakily hung up. I went back to my paper writing but had to turn Zoe's picture away for the rest of the day. My focus was gone. 3:15am, after meeting the deadline (midnight PST) with two decent papers, I walked through the door to my apartment and fell asleep, sleeping straight for 11 hours.
Next day I went shopping to treat myself, not because I can afford it, but because I haven't bought anything for myself since November (okay I bought a couple of t-shirts and a few essential toiletries, and a pair of jeans when my other pair broke but that's it). I felt like a true New Yorker when I walked into a kids store to look for a t-shirt for Zoe and the owner not only recognized me but also told me how she just thought Zoe was the sweetest and that I had to bring her in when she comes back. I bought a tote and a t-shirt for Zoe, not batting an eyelid by spending money on her, but cringing when spending $30 on a t-shirt for myself. I finally got a pair of übercool sunglasses in Kate Spade and tried on a $369 pair of sandals that I wish I could buy.
This morning Zoe called me again and told me she had gone camping with her dad the previous day, spending the night in a tent. She always wanted to do that, and now she told me she wanted to go camping with me as well. "Don't tell me we have to say goodbye Mom" she said a few minutes into the conversation, which is how I got the idea to read her a story. I picked out one of her books from the shelf and read it to her, showing her the pictures on the video screen. She followed curiously and clearly enjoyed. "I hate time", she said in the end, "I hate time so much, I want time to go away". I agreed and said that I hate when we are apart too but in 32 days, we can like time again.
|The t-shirt I bought for Zoe|
|The book I read for Zoe|