Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
The night before Jen and Katie left for Florida, while Jen was busy packing a large box of books and toys in the living room, I tiptoed into our bedroom where Katie had fallen asleep and watched her dream.
I studied her gentle face. Her small, curled fingers. I wanted to swallow all of her with my eyes.
Sometimes, she's so beautiful to me, it truly, literally hurts to admire her so, but that night, I couldn't get enough. I admit, she's definitely in the deepest, darkest parts of her 'Terrible Twos,' but yet, she can still be the sweetest little angel.
At least when she's asleep.
And as I committed the last of her long eyelashes to long-term memory, I thought to myself, "Six weeks is a long time in little angel years."
I still remember coming home to her after various short business trips, and finding myself hugging a different daughter than the one I kissed goodbye not ten days earlier. Each time, it seemed as if she'd barreled straight through a major toddler milestone, and I felt like I'd missed some huge swath of her childhood.
It was tough enough not seeing my two sweethearts during their last trip to Florida last May. But back then, I was buried in work for our conference in Hong Kong. They were gone for only a month or so, too.
Most importantly, Katie was only one year old at the time. She was 'the baby,' and it was Jennifer and 'the baby' that went away.
Yesterday, though, I put Jennifer and Katie on the plane. My wife, who cried, and my daughter, who waved and demanded ice cream. Two whole people, with pretty faces and unique personalities, who together are my everything in life.
What will I miss this time? Final mastery of meal-time cutlery? Drawing shapes? Memorizing all of Smashmouth's "All Star"?
Potty training? (Please?)
All right. I know, and really do believe, that this trip is a good thing, a rare treat, for Jen and her family, who otherwise live half a planet apart. Indeed, last week Jen was having second thoughts, and I had to remind her of how special this opportunity is.
I'm just being selfish about it. I miss them because I love them, yes, but also because... well, because coming home to my family validates everything else I do with my life. Assuages that nagging, universal question, 'Why am I here?' at least a little bit. It's basic, but endlessly comforting. Nothing clears up the fog of a bad day at work like stretching out and drawing Winnie the Pooh for your daughter.
Now I'll just have to drown my sorrows in Coke and four or five cycles of Headline News.
I am going to make the most of this unprecedented amount of "me time." Really.
I've got all sorts of neglected web projects to work on, for one, and I'm itching to try out more than a few geek tricks on that front. I've also just recently perfected the setup of my new CD-RW drive at work and plan to burn a heap eclectic mix CDs. And, most ambitiously, I've finally started playing with Linux, and have already plowed through partitions and kernel upgrades and turned half of Jen's computer into a surprisingly agile X windows box.
Of course, there's "normal" stuff too, like reading (the last book I read was "Idoru," on Wayne's recommendation), and going to see movies (last viewed was "High Fidelity"), and maybe even calling up and hanging out with friends. If they remember me, that is.
I also plan on bothering mom and dad a lot, visiting, hanging out, avoiding cooking for myself at all costs... the usual parent-child stuff.
It's not quite the best of bachelor living, but I'll make do.