Two years ago my husband spent a lot of time overseas for work. He would go for 2-4 weeks at a time. Our household was frighteningly peaceful. He ended up being gone for nearly five full months altogether that year. I felt as if I were on vacation. One less person to cook for, one less to clean up after, and less laundry to do. Plus no snoring so I slept better.
It was great for Steve also as when he is in a foreign country he is not perceived as ‘weird’. People go out of their way to make sure he ‘understands’ everything. They take him out to eat, go sightseeing, give him history lessons. I just wish that he could have taken some decent photos of the incredible places he went. The few shots he remembered to snap were of old cars or strange transportation. Of course.
Most of the time he was in countries where he could use his cell phone to call me every day or so. Sometimes he couldn’t call. I tried to find alternate ways to ‘talk’ regularly.
Since I’m on facebook every day, I attempted to teach him how to use the ‘chat’ feature. Try as I might, he couldn’t understand it. He would write a long sort of letter and sign it “Love, your husband Steve.”
“Sweetie,” I’d type, “Just put a comment in as if you were talking!”
“Dear Julie, I am not sure if I like this sort of arrangement as I am not a very good typist. Can’t I just email to you instead? Love, your husband Steve.”
“STEVE! This is faster & more direct than email and you don’t have to sign it - I know who you are!”
“Dear Julie, Which email address would you like me to use? I will be available to send you an email tomorrow morning after I ……”
“STEVE – STOP! We are communicating NOW! Have you guys gone to dinner yet?”
No answer from Steve. Turns out, he was busy sending multiple emails to me. Each one written out like a letter, each one about a different thing he had done, each one signed “Love, your husband Steve" Funny thing about email – you have to type them just like in a ‘chat’ session.
“Steve, post some photos!” No response. Of course.
The other thing that seemed impossible for him to figure out was the time difference. That was comical. When it is 8:30 a.m. here it is 11:30 p.m. in Malaysia. Since Steve normally would go to bed around 10 p.m. I asked him to call me either before his dinner or at bedtime. I am an early riser so I’d be up when he went off to eat around 8 p.m. his time.
The next morning no phone call. I tried reaching him on the facebook chat. I finally emailed him and he responded at 6:30 a.m. his time the next day, 9:30 p.m. my time.
“Dear Julie, I am doing well. I set my alarm clock so that I could call you but I am not sure if you are awake or asleep because your time zone could be different depending on whether I am thinking east or I am thinking west. I hope you slept well. Love, your husband Steve”
What? I called him. He answered. He was just getting ready to jump in the shower.
“Why didn’t you call me last night?”
Steve paused to think. “I didn’t call because I know you go to bed early. I didn’t have time to call before dinner, and we didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 11 p.m. I knew that was too late and you’d be asleep.”
“STEVE! It would have been 8 a.m. here! I was awake!!”
“Oh, is that because of the time difference? Well,” he paused again. “Can I talk to the dog?”