Lost from home #1000speak @1000speak

When I was playing at being an international businessman, as well as inflating my ego and improving my bank balance, I had to spend time abroad, at conferences, on marketing trips, sometimes being a lawyer. And as everyone says the sheen of another smart hotel soon dulls when the bed is brilliant but it isn’t yours, the bathroom is spotless but it smells different to yours and the food is sumptuous and fresh but its not cooked how you like it.

But it is a necessary part of the role you are acting out, so on goes your false smile and brave face and off you trot.

One time, in Italy, having spent a day at  conference near the Italian Lakes I went back to my room, stared out over the flat calm towards the mountains, registered its all round breathtakingness and died a little inside. I sat and wrote this poem, trying to lighten my mood with a little dry humour and a trite little rhyming scheme.

Away from home

 

It’s not that I’m homesick, I like to go

It’s fun, an experience, I’m spoiled, I know.

But when I’m alone, I take up the phone

To send you a text, so that I can show

I’m not vexed, I don’t feel hollow

At our separation.

The hotel’s five star, the food just the best,

The people are caring, they spoil their guests.

But here in my room, I’m enveloped in gloom

You haven’t called back, I know I’m a pest,

Just say “I’m ok” and put my fears to rest

For the duration.

We take in the sights, ancient and rare;

We float on the lake, boundless, azure.

But I crave a short break, to relieve my dull ache

That comes from the void that says you’re not there

And I sit and I wait, to hear that you care

In desperation.

We shake and we smile, we’ll see you again,

In France, in the spring, or autumn in Spain.

But behind the façade, I lowered my guard

And the truth is so plain, as I dash for my plane

I’ll see you again, to put an end to my pain

In anticipation.

And I knew then I had to stop, had to get back to a regular commute and consistent appearances at home. Because, in analysing my feelings it occurred to me that the worst bit of being away wasn’t actually being away.

Nope it was returning home.

As the poem I hope well shows, when away you cling to those little lifelines, the phone calls the text messages and what have yous these days, trying to get a small sense of the days gone, the time spent. And as exemplified by your children when you ask them ‘what did you do at school today?’ and they say, much to your irritation ‘nothing’ these calls at best give you some edited highlights, some snippet from the hours passed.

(Let me note here, in deference to my children, had they asked me ‘what have you done at the office today?’ I would have been equally incapable of conjuring up something interesting – a stunning meeting, another  exciting talk on the intricacies of land registration, a cracking group discussion on team strategy… yes I understand it was as difficult for them to dig out a gem from a diet of algebra and alluvial valley formations).

Returning home after a week away, this sense of displacement multiplied. Some many little things had happened, incrementally building a picture of the lives they were leading and I wasn’t seeing. Of course a day in the office contained a similar loss of small moments but there was always a catch up at the day’s end, a chance for the little nuggets to come out – over reading a story, or be reported on by the Textiliste. But by lengthening the absence, by missing out on each of those daily catch ups I exponentially increased the loss of knowledge, the grounding in the daily intimacies. I felt even more awkward, a stranger.

And it was made worse because my experience had been the interesting one. ‘Tell us what it’s like. The hotel, the people, the place, the travel. None of it part of a grooved routine, all of it unique and endlessly fascinating. I could regale them with stories but when I paused and asked, ‘So what have you done?’ I received a blank stare. ‘Nothing’ those faces said.

But I knew. They’d done everything, only without me. They’d done things about which I’d never know and which, once debriefed over tea or the journey to school weren’t worthy of individual note. Yet in the aggregation of those minute shared experiences are rich lives created and families bonded.

I know, I was lucky. I saw some fascinating places, did some interesting work, spent time making friends across continents and with people of character and charm. But the cost felt too high.

So I’m grateful for my current situation, home based, steeped in routine and the keeper of the families minutiae. Yes, I think I’ll keep that.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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31 Responses to Lost from home #1000speak @1000speak

  1. I applaud your choice Geoff – such excellent reasons for making it and I wish you many more happy years with your family together and your priorities right! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Absolutely beautiful piece of writing Geoff. Glad you made that decision. Good for you, and great for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    Interesting post which I can identify with – but I see this from the other side as my husband travels regularly, so I totally sympathise with your family. It’s really hard to think of something to say when he asks me what I’ve done – it feels so trivial after he’s told me the latest from China or Singapore or wherever he happens to be. He knows what I’ve done – much the same as last week and, indeed, next week, so what can I add? And when he says he misses me I think “Well, you’re not the one coming home to an empty house” though I know, really, his feelings are much the same as yours in the poem. I look forward to him not having to do this any more – but it’ll be a few years yet. I haven’t convinced him well enough of the joys of retirement ;-(

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I understand his tug. In many ways the biggest issue is loss of identity. I went from the easy ‘I’m a lawyer’ to ‘I’m a … Whole host of things’ much like you would well understand. I’m still fighting the urge to say ‘writer’ and hated the ‘retired’ word… Ah me, such a confused boy.

      Like

  4. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much, Geoff. Husband has always worked from home, and for years now so have I. The children have never come home to an empty house, because we are always both here. All it means is they take you for granted, expect you’ll always be there when they pop their head round the bureau door. In fact, they resent that they can never have parties because parents never leave the house. We do what we have to do and what we can do. Kids learn to live with the outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reminds me of when I did a month’s residential placement on my Social Work training course, and had to find may way back into the family routine. Good one, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  6. davidprosser says:

    I also hated the anonymity of the hotel room and the bonhomie that stopped as the door closed. At home the family minutiae oft included little gems not recognised by the carrier of the ‘So I said, and she said’ variety.
    Home is infinitely better as long as there’s someone there waiting.
    Great post Geoff
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  7. merrildsmith says:

    Poignant post. If you hadn’t had that life of traveling though, you might not have recognized or valued as much your life at home.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. jan says:

    I certainly don’t miss traveling for business. At first it’s interesting but the novelty soon wears off! Course I never got to go to Italy – generally it was some boring city in the Midwest!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    My hubby was away a lot, and often at short notice. He sometimes said he felt like a stranger in his own home. We on the other hand we felt he was living the via loca, I know he was not.As humans we are never satisfied but what you and he have now is preferable! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yvonne says:

    Very interesting piece Geoff and all the more interesting because you write from the opposite side of the “divide” to where I so often was. My husband was the one who was away so often, and not being the most expressive of people he often did “nothing” when he was away. Mostly he was away for 2 or 3 days at a time, but sometimes it was weeks. Almost every time we visited my family he either didn’t get at all, or only for part of the time.

    I’ve often heard women whose husbands work on oil-rigs talk about how they developed a routine when their husband went away and felt almost resentful when he came home and wanted to take over. My husband was never regular enough in his trips away for us to have this, but I can see why it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks. Much sound sense here. I’ve always distrusted those who say you can have intense bursts of quality time in relationships. In my experience it’s slow ordinary time where all the important things happen (often very unexpectedly). Regards Thom.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Charli Mills says:

    Many families in the western US often have a missing spouse — working in the Bakken oil fields, on a tuna boat out of Alaska, or on a traveling crew. The lure of good money and steady work get eroded by missing all the little things.

    Like

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