Erica has been spending lots of time in other places the past two years. We live in New Haven, Connecticut and, (for lots of compelling reasons), she has been teaching in Ithaca, New York and San Diego, California. Our daughter Isabel, our dogs Ginger and Lotti, and I have all gotten pretty good at life without Erica.
In fact, as I left for work Tuesday morning and she left for Bradley Airport and ten days in San Diego, I found it slightly unsettling to realize that in some ways, life is easier without Erica here.
Before I write another word, I need to say right away that “easier” is not the same as “better.”
Having said that, “easier” IS the same as easier. When Erica goes away my world shrinks down very quickly to just three things: my work, my daughter, and my dogs. I don’t have a lot of choices about what to do with my time. I get up, I feed the dogs, I wake Isabel, we go to school, I sprint home to walk the dogs during work, I take the dogs to the park, I make dinner, I help Isabel with her homework, and then we all go to bed. In the morning, we do it all again. The needs of the creatures closest to me dictate my decisions.
Sometimes, I manage to squeeze in a run or a workout. And if I get real lucky, Isabel has a sleepover at a friend’s house and I get a night to myself. Other than that, life becomes very simple.
It’s when she comes back that things get complicated. Once Erica is here my options expand exponentially, and so does my guilt. When the things I have to do are clear and non-negotiable, I do them. When choice is introduced, the clarity is lost and I tend to agonize over seemingly insignificant decisions. I won’t go into the tortured thinking that plagues me when faced with a simple choice while Erica is here, but suffice it to say that I can be guilty of severely overthinking everything.
It is Friday and Erica is still in San Diego. My world has taken on its Erica-less proportions. Life is easy.
And I miss her.