I took a break in June for home leave to Germany. So this post will be less about New York and more about my husband, who has stayed at home with our 17-year-old son while I play the life of a single in the city. Not all husbands would be so generous and understanding and for that I am very, very grateful. He was so tanned and welcoming that the minute I arrived, I made a point of thanking him for allowing me this sojourn in New York. For the short time I was at home, I continued to praise him in a loud voice in his presence to our visitors. I could tell by the grave looks on the faces of my girlfriends that even their own husbands would not have indulged a wife’s wish to work abroad for half a year. For that I am very proud of him.
I see it as one of the benefits of being married for over 25 years. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.
Yet it’s such a quick hop from New York to Frankfurt that a person could actually commute. As I told my husband on my arrival. Only 6 1/2 hours. “Don’t even think about it,” he retorted.
He was so happy to announce how clean the house was, our cleaning lady had done such a great job. Then I opened the frig. And set to work. Then I opened the dishwasher, and set it on a hot rinse, empty. (He believes in washing dishes by hand when there are only two of them in the house). So whatever, right? They’re guys. And have been living in a Männer-WG for three months, my husband and son. Suffering on their own. Cooking for themselves. (“No potatoes,” Felix says, when I ask him what he wants to eat). Got it.
I find the potatoes, oddly, in the refrigerator, together with bananas, which have no right to be there either.
The night of my arrival, after taking a good long nap and hosting a family of four (strawberry cake from the bakery and coffee), I made risotto and salad of white asparagus served in a saffron, champagne and lemon sud. Both husband and son have been cooking since I’ve been gone but were grateful to see me in the kitchen again. Because despite his efforts to whip up healthy dinners, Peter’s shopping list typically has the same items: Bread, butter, jam, coffee, tea, and muesli. He honestly couldn’t tell Jamie Oliver from Laurence Olivier in a line-up. Once he called me at work, I kid you not, to ask how to tell when water is boiling. Asked to bring home balsamico, he brings basmati. Risotto and ricotta are tricky too.
Honestly? I think they miss me more than I miss them. But I’m the one who has gone away, the one who has taken a job in a not exactly hardship location. I haven’t cooked much or cleaned at all since I got to New York. A friend told me that New Yorkers don’t cook and I scoffed. But she was right. Food costs almost as much as dining out. I’m spoiled by a fortnightly service for my corporate housing on Park Row. (Was $20 enough of a tip for the cleaning lady? You can never overtip in New York. Sky’s the limit.)
In our garden in Heidelberg the roses were all dying, evenly, an entire garden of standards, trellis and bushes, their soft leaves carpeting the walkway. Desperately in need of clipping, trimming and sweeping. The whole business. I had forgotten how much the garden is my responsibility.
Much as I am looking forward to being at home again with my boys, I couldn’t wait to get back to Park Row. Now I’ve decided to make it my life goal to live in New York. I’ll have to see how my husband feels about that, and whether his generosity extends to lifetime relocation. For the two of us, of course!