I guess it’s only fair that I confess my own antics while living alone. Ron has been gone for two weeks now on a business trip, slated to return tomorrow at 4:21 p.m. (but who’s counting?). I’m not quite sure why we each get into trouble when left alone, but maybe we rely on each other too much to catch us right before we do something particularly stupid and without the buffer, we do the stupid.
Regardless of the reason, I don’t think my antics are on par with Ron’s (I never had to call him in another country to find out where the papertowels were nor did I buy eight pounds of turmeric), but I did manage to have a few bumps along the way.
First was realizing that I didn’t know how to access my photos. Due to the exponential growth of my digital photo library, my brilliant IT-husband set me up with an external storage device, just for photos and iTunes. However, despite being able to physically connect with the thing, I still couldn’t access them. I finally remembered to mention it on the phone and his response of “Did you read the book?” filled me with waves of childhood annoyance at my step-father’s “Go look it up,” every time I asked how to spell a word. My response to Ron was something akin to, “Of course I didn’t read the book. Why would I read a computer book? That’s why I married you, dear.” But admittedly he was right, and after taking approximately 7 minutes, I found the answer. Stupid “Option” key.
The one thing Ron asked me to do while he was gone was run the car at least once. Since we basically only drive it on the weekends, Ron likes to make sure that at least once a week we drive it around a little to lube everything up (or something). So, heeding his request, I decided to drive to the commissary by myself last weekend. I figured if I went early on Friday morning, meaning before noon, the traffic would be practically nil. (Friday mornings are the best time for driving anywhere in Cairo. With the lack of traffic lights, and upwards of 10-feet between cars, you can practically weave your way to Maadi without ever using your brakes.)
I typically don’t mind driving in Cairo, despite the cartoonish insanity, but as I was tootling along down the Corniche Road last Friday I suddenly felt my car listing to the right for some reason. That “reason” was the ancient little white car on my left that was slowly side-swiping me and shoving me aside. Hello!! Big sand-colored Jeepy thing here! Apparently I was in one of those pockets where the physics-free-zone doesn’t apply, because usually when you’re side-swiped there’s no actual physical contact made. We both stopped, him in front of me, but I knew damn well I wasn’t getting out of the car. His hands were waving wildly, I’d like to think apologetically instead of accusingly, but I decided to just go around him and keep on driving. It could have been partially my fault as I was probably driving in a lane. Bad Julia. Upon inspection later, I saw that the large rubber bumpery things around the wheels took the brush-hit and I was able to just rub off the white paint. Why me?
This past week I opted to forego the driving adventures and instead arranged to go on the commissary-run shuttle on Thursday. There were only two of us from Zamalek, so after I was done shopping I just read and waited in the van for her. Once she was done and loaded in the driver told us we had to wait just a few more minutes for some special orders for Ambassador Scobey (the U.S. Ambassador to Cairo). She had ordered several cases of water and some crates of lettuce and fresh vegetables (maybe she’s having a rabbit party). They shoved everything in the van and we headed home. I was the first drop off, so the driver kindly helped me load up all my goodies on the cart. He handed me a bag but I noted that it wasn’t mine, so must have been the Ambassador’s. I thanked him and headed upstairs to unload the goods. As I came to the last two bags of vegetables I started to put them in the fridge but suddenly realized that I hadn’t bought any broccoli. These were the Ambassador’s! I quickly called down to the guards to get the name of the driver who had dropped me off. Then I called the embassy motorpool to try to explain that they needed to get in touch with the commissary driver for Zamalek, who hopefully wasn’t back at the embassy yet, to return to our place to get these bags. I needed the evidence out of my apartment, so I took the two bags down to the guards and explained to them what happened and that hopefully the driver would be returning soon and to just give them to him. When I left a few hours later that evening I noted that the bags were no longer on the table downstairs, so I could only hope that Ambassador Scobey got her veggies. I’d hate to get Ron’s career thrown in the gutter over innocently-stolen broccoli, but I also know that fingerprints can be lifted from grocery bags.
I did have other non-food shopping adventures, but I’ll share those separately. I saw a few movies, did some socializing, and attempted to address all the items on my “When Ron’s Away” list, but sadly found myself too busy for a lot of them. For all my concerns about being lonely or bored, they never really materialized. But I did come to one interesting realization. Growing up an only child, I always found comfort and solace in spending time alone. In fact, there were moments I craved it. Yes, I enjoy being around people too, particularly if I can choose them, but I was always quite happy living on my own and having my own life. But now, for the first time ever, when Ron’s away, I realize that I don’t want to be alone anymore. It’s not that we have to be sitting next to each other or reenacting the cake-feeding moment at the wedding all the time, but just hearing his clunkings and mutterings and huffings coming from the other room makes me know I’m home. So while his absence definitely keeps the house much tidier, it’s also too quiet and missing a heartbeat. As we continue on this marriage route, it’s nice having confirmations along the way that we made the right decision; providing I don’t have to read any more computer books.