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Sunday - Travelling back

Podgorica Airport smells of smoke. I am wearing my favourite summer travelling outfit- long black cotton shirt and strappy bright vest, with a wide belt, short-sleeved cardigan and gladiator sandals. On this journey it earns me a seat in Podgorica’s tiny airport café (miraculous), a free upgrade to business class (delightful) and a wink from the pilot (mostly useless), but fails to affect the larger problem of not seeing my son for another month.

The day is blustery and blessedly overcast. The promise of rain was always the most anticipated event of August here.

I walk across the tarmac trailing wind-whipped clothes and sadness. On the plane I can feel the tug in my mind (like a pager buzzing at the back of my skull) which indicates a child awake and looking for me. The call vibrates with an urgency that dents the heart. I watch the patterns of rain on the tarmac and long for him as palpably as land-locked mariners yearn for the sea.

On the Ljubljana-London leg my inablity to refuse the abudnant and delicious Business Class wine and my famously low tolerance for alcohol combine to comatise me. I wake when the seatbelt sign pings on and the window reveals a truly impressively dense cloud cover over the UK.

From the air it's beautiful, and infinite - stretching out in each direction as far as the eye can see. It's a cloudscape gilded with sunlight and painted in Van Gogh's brushstrokes- vast and mysterious and lovely.

There's a strong headwind, whipping wisps of cloud past the window. The buzzing call in my mind is gone. I shut my eyes and beam a message back - an image of white clouds, and the feeling of being wrapped in kisses.

Separation is hard. All night long I dream restless ghost dreams - tangled pathways in a moonlit wood, rain on the sea.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
I have been meaning to ask what all this leaving is about (but don't want to offend, especially when you are feeling so raw about it). I have Polish and Russian colleagues who do the same, so I'm wondering if it is an Eastern European thing? I think it would do for me.
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
not offensive at all
Leaving one's children with their grandparents is fairly common practise in Eastern Europe (it's certainly the way I spent my summers). I took Matei to his grandmothers at the end of June and stayed until he settled and then they went to Montenegro (where we have a house). Z is going to see him in two weeks and bring him home at the end of September.

In practise, most of the children I grew up with spent their summers with their grandparents (usually somewhere coastal or rural) and for many it was the highlight of their year. I think it's probably a fairly common practise in most places with extended families (I remember my Italian clients here sending their children to Italy for the summer).

Among the benefits are health and economy - being able to spend three months at the seaside is a huge investment in a child's long-term health (being in Montenegro as a child really helped sort out concerns around some of the illnesses I had as a child - and it's certainly sorting out my concerns around Matei's exposure to Vitamin D). It's certainly something that Z and I would never be able to afford to give him ourselves since we work, and my mother's willingness to essentially sit for three months in a hamlet in a village with Matei is something that I truly appreciate.

The other benefits are to do with strengthened family relationships especially between generations. Grandparents are a huge part of our culture and they feature especially heavily in children's lives - and it's been wonderful to be able to see how Matei has bonded with my mum and stepdad and how much spending time with him has meant to them.

It's also helped Z and me to have time for ourselves - in most ways romance has blossomed. On the other hand it's been a very difficult separation. For most of the time I've missed Matei dreadfully and if I wasn't buried up to my eyebrows in work for the next three weeks I am sure I would miss M even more than I do now. Z hasn't seen him since July so he's hopping eager to finally see his child. It's also sad for us to have missed out on the rapid changes - in the last few months he has matured so much that it's crazy -from potty training to language explosion - although it has meant that when I saw him it was all baby love for two weeks rather than Irritation.
Sep. 1st, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
Re: not offensive at all
You certainly paint a compelling picture: it takes a bit of getting my head round, I suppose, because it's so contrary to how we have done things. But, the ills that it addresses, especially the one of having some time to yourself, really make sense, and it makes me wonder whether the stifling parenting we have practised is more for our own sakes than for Item's.
Sep. 7th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: not offensive at all
It's a lot to do with having trust with people you leave her with, having confidence in the way they would be looked after, and I don't know whether that would hold for the available grandparents.
Sep. 1st, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Shirt, vest, belt, cardigan, strappy sandals.... I see no mention of trousers/skirt. No wonder you got winked at and upgraded to better seats, you minx, you!

Wonder if I'd have that kind of luck if I were similarly attired.
Sep. 7th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Sadly, I had underwear and there were no Sharon Stone moments.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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