sheraton commander hotel

I've landed. Welcome home to Cambridge, folks.

Eli and I are no strangers to time apart. We first realized that we were in Big Fat Love only weeks before he trotted out to Seattle to start a new job, and I popped across the ocean for graduate school. For two years we crisscrossed the globe every few months for a heady fix of what we knew would one day be the rest of our lives. Well, the rest of our lives is blessedly upon us, and what a happily ever after we've got going on.

For the most part, the days of navigating gaping oceans and multiple time zones are behind us, but every now and then, there's a summer of graduate work to attend to overseas, a week-long business trip out in Seattle, or a solo visit home to the family. While the amount of time we spend apart these days pales in comparison to the once ever-streaming months of international phone cards and air mail, our reunions nevertheless [or, perhaps, ever-the-more?] leave me breathless.

And, strangely, shy.

It begins with a pancake-flip of the stomach when the wheels of the airplane touch ground. Like maple syrup, it runs down my arms and legs. My fingers tingle. My typically brisk gait slows. Sometimes, I'll actually stop in my tracks for a moment on the way to baggage claim. A physiological response, perhaps, to suppress that other, simultaneous urge to sprint helter-skelter through the terminal and charge into the arms of my Big Love.

I am not a shy person by nature, and until these bashful reunions, I dare say I never really understood just what this "shy" thing was all about. I experienced a disturbingly thorough range of emotions growing up, but the notion of shyness utterly baffled me. In my book, to be shy was to be fearful, uncertain, and hesitant. Sad, even. Why would anyone want to be that? The expression "painfully shy" was, to my young mind, spot on. In my infinite grade-school wisdom, it never occurred to me that our emotions at any given moment are only in part a matter of choice. And what really never occurred to me is that shyness may have nothing to do with a deficit, and everything to do with an abundance. That's how I experience my shyness, anyway. When it comes to emotion, I'm an echoingly deep vessel; I can hold a lot. But sometimes even I am filled to the brim. Especially in the face of Big Love. Shyness, for me, is that overflow, the sweeping up and over that leaves me unsteady and bobbing in the waves. I glance back at shore, but the tide pulls me outward, into the deep.

I look at the ground, then up at him, then back down at the ground again. I fight the urge to turn away, and for a moment I lose. My stomach serves up a towering stack of pancakes. Syrup flows. Eli knows the drill by now. He giggles, and his sweet voice welcomes me: "Hello, shy girl." And then he pulls me into a squeeze.

With all the thinking I've been doing about home lately, I somehow left you out, my love. Home. It's you. It's what you do to me.

window swirl

I drop Eli at the office and tumble into our apartment. He has spiffed up the place beautifully for my return. Our home is straining a little against its neatness. The bed is made just the way I like it. (Because, yes, there are many ways to make a bed, and I like it done my way.) My plant is half-droopy, yet the soil is wet. (No doubt, he gave it a splash just this morning so I cannot accuse him of attempted plantricide. I'm onto you, mister. I'm onto you.) In the kitchen I find a big cardboard crate filled with sunny oranges. "I was in the mood for oranges," he later explains. Can't argue with that.

oranges on chair

Our reunion would be brief; the next morning Eli was leaving for Seattle, so we needed to make the most of this twenty-four hours together. More specifically, we needed cookies. If you recall, sweet feet that he is, Eli is sorely lacking in the sweet tooth department. Yet by some miracle, the guy loves oatmeal cookies. Lucky for me, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen had just posted a delectable recipe for the things, so I decided to keep my old standby tucked away in the recipe drawer. I would try something new. These cookies were thicker and chewier than the lacy rounds I'm accustomed to baking. A welcome and delicious change of pace.

As it turns out, orange wedges and oatmeal cookies are a perfect match. The buttered, brown-sugary oats crumble cozily against splashes of bright citrus. Tastes like home.

We stayed up too late. We got up too early.

"I just wish we had more time," I said from my side of the bed.

"We do," Eli replied.

Why yes, we do. We have more time. Ever-the-more, even.

radiator and tea lights

Safe travels, sweet one. I'll be the shy girl hiding behind a big plate of cookies and oranges when you return. Come home soon.

oranges on the floor

[Thanks and love to my dear friend, David, for the name of this post, and for coining the word that more and more, ever-the-more, dances me through each day.]


Elishag said...

I said it in person, but after reading this latest entry I must say it online- your writing over the past 2 weeks has been divine. Especially this last one- it actually got me kind of choked up...
I just find myself savoring every bit of writing as much as I have the dishes I've been inspired to make from this blog. I love you Jess- keep on writing!!

Jess said...

Oh, my dearest Elishag. Your comments always mean so much to me, but this time you've really done it. I'm officially a little teary myself. It's readers like you that make this whole thing worthwhile. You make my heart whoosh. Sending love.

Rachel G. said...

This is just beautiful, Jess -- the sentiment, the details, the visuals that complement them both. Most of all, I love your expressions of love. We all need to do more of this, and you are a model! I agree w/ Elisha -- this blog is inspiring in so many ways.

Jess said...

Rachel, I don't know what to say. Thank you for your incredibly sweet note. I'm the luckiest to have friends and readers like you.

Nithya said...

This is so beautiful. I've been having a depressed sort of day, but reading your words, so beautiful and heartfelt, just made me smile.
Your honesty and love shine through and that makes for the best kind of writing.

Jess said...

Hi, Nithya. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely note. It means more than you know. I hope that things are lighter and brighter for you this week.