Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fragmented Days

I took Vito to California at the beginning of the summer while Angela stayed in Qatar to work. Our schedules weren't wholly aligned, and she decided against making a trip to the West Coast this year. We weren't going to have so much time together this summer, and she didn't want to waste any of those days traveling so far. Aside from the cost, it takes, perhaps, more than two full days round trip, which is a hearty commitment. Anyway, after a few weeks of California family, friends and fun, Vito and I returned to Doha, rested for a little more than 24 hours, repacked, and then the three of us boarded a flight to Turkey to spend five days in Istanbul before continuing on to our final destination, Italy. Jet lag was oppressive, but we did our best to ignore it. We were together, we were on vacation and we had sights to see!

We stayed together as a family for about three weeks before I had to return to reality. To Doha. Vito stayed with his mother and grandmother in Italy where, as of today, he has just about one more week before he has to return and start his new routine. 3rd grade. Music lessons twice a week, and whatever else will crop up once life returns to normal. What's normal for us, at any rate.

So now, I'm by myself. Back at work. Waking up early and preparing for another year in the Academic Bridge Program, putting my holidays behind me and watching via Skype and WhatsApp what Angela shares with me of the rest of their Italian summer--it's ferragosto, holiday time in Italy, and everyone there is eating together, taking day trips, meeting in the evenings, shopping and such. It's too hot to go outside here, but it's nice to have time to play the piano or watch a movie. I don't have to make anyone's lunch or get up early on the weekend. It's a little lonely and frustrating that I can only be a bystander while they stroll around the streets with gelato, but I suppose I had my time at the front end. I guess I'm just being greedy. And I miss them.

Vito answered the phone a couple days ago when I called, and he sounded different. Older. I'm missing some of that every-day connective tissue that usually blinds us to those little changes in our daily acquaintance. Wrinkles. Grey hair. My son is growing up, however momentary, without me, and it's tangible. I could hear it in his voice. It came across in a long-distance call. The changes rear up in short videos on my cellphone and mock me. When will I notice the next one? I imagine these kinds of episodes will only increase as our lives trundle on and we move away from each other for longer and longer periods of time, and he continues to grow up into that person that he is becoming. "Well," he says, pausing on the other end as if he is about to break it to me, "I guess I better go, daddy."

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