Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Trip Without the Kids

Next week we'll be going back to Greece.  We were there in August as a family.  This time, it's just the two of us.  I'm teaching a private photography workshop in Santorini and shooting a remarkable new luxury hotel on a neighboring island.   Andrea will be scouting new locations.  The real reason we're going together is to celebrate our anniversary.  Greece was our first big trip as a couple.  What a way to mark our 20th. 

For weeks, we've been preparing to leave our children and our house for a week.   There's a lasagna cooling on the counter, and a huge pot of pea soup simmering on the stove.  The freezer is stocked with shrimp and ravioli and Bagel Bites (by request), and the refrigerator and pantry are bursting with breakfast and lunch items.  They will not have to scrounge for food, and somewhere they'll know that in or absence, this food is a sign of our love. 

We are flying together.  We have always flown together, though it's something we've always debated.  The risk of parents dying in car crashes is much greater, and you never hear of parents driving separately to parties or the theatre.  We look forward to sitting quietly together for ten hours, reading and watching a movie, splitting an Ambien to sleep.  We will breathe a sigh of relief upon landing.  Whew.  Made it.  One flight down, three to go.

But all our separation anxieties will not be soothed.  Our oldest, Zander, is in the throes of college applications.  Some are due while we're gone.  Having never gone through this process before, we had no idea what this time of year would mean.  (Let's just say we'll be around for all of October when Simon is at this stage two years from now.)  Aside from leaving Zander and his college applications, there's the usual gamut of logistics to maneuver in a house with three teens and all these animals: sleepovers, pickups and drop-offs, schedules and coverage, in this case, our beloved and thoroughly competent assistant, Chris, whom the kids adore.  Oh yeah, we also have to ensure that our businesses continue to operate in our absence. 

A trip away from the kids is sweet and sour, but the need to reconnect with each other on a regular basis is vital.  There's never a good time to leave.  But, always putting kids first can wreak havoc on a relationship.  A couple can become like colleagues in the corporation that runs the household.  Not very sexy.  Between two freelance people, where business travel is a constant, the phrase "like two ships that pass in the night" takes on all too real meaning.  At one point not too long ago, we realized that we had just stopped making out, long lingering kisses like when we first met.  So, we're back to kissing, hugging, groping, and it's fun.  And sexy.  And the kids HATE it.  Well, too bad. We were here before you, and that hugging and groping is how they got here.  And if they want us together for a long, long time to come, they're going to have to forgive us our hand-holding and long-kisses. 

We're going away to be boyfriend and girlfriend for a few days, no distractions.  Of course, mostly what we'll talk about is how much we miss our kids, wondering what each of them is doing at that very moment, hoping they didn't forget to bring something to school, and planning when we'll Skype home.

The above 1988 photograph is from The Greek File.  We spent part of our honeymoon in this room.

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