My husband has been in South Africa for a month. It has gone pretty quickly, and the end of his trip is in sight. Then he will be back and he can empty the dishwasher.
Communication has been OK. This is his fifth World Cup. Sixteen years ago, we didn't even have email. Now we have email (several accounts), Skype, Facebook, text, international cell phones, blogs, Twitter. So we "talk" often. We just don't say too much.
Here is an example:
Me: "I took the recycling out. The electric bill came. I made spaghetti for dinner. Ryan went to a movie. Um, what else... Your mom called. It is still hot out."
Him: What? Oh...it's two in the morning here and I am on a slow bus from Rustenburg. I fell asleep there for a second. What? Our connection isn't that great. I went to a reception at FIFA headquarters yesterday. There was zebra pate. What? miss y(connection lost).
Did I mention I started a new full-time job in the month since Mr. Snarkshelf has been gone? That means I have a whole set of headaches, new co-workers, deadlines and other workspeak that have happened since he has been 6,000 miles away. That small talk set would totally get lost in translation, so I am trying to skip over that stuff.
Anyway, my therapist - Dr. Ruth - has been concerned about this World Cup travel thing for months now. For homework, she had me planning months ago on how to stay connected. I went to see Dr. Ruth last week.
She: So how has communication been?
Me: OK, I guess. Except for Flat Sharkie.
See, I explained to Dr. Ruth, it is neighborhood swim team season. Our mascot is the Shark. Have you heard of Flat Stanley , the children's book character (who is really a drawing) and goes all over the world? (she had)
Well, the day Steve left, this little girl on the team whom we all love, drew him "Flat Sharkie." She brought it over right before he left for the airport. "Mr. Goff!" she said, looking up at him with her big, brown eyes. "I drew you Flat Sharkie. Promise me you will take him out and get a picture of him in Africa."
He promised. But every time I mentioned it, Mr. Snarkshelf gave me the smackdown. Busy, he said. Too professional to take out a silly paper doll in public. No. Stop bugging me.
"Please?" I said. "Not even in your hotel room?"
Group play came and went. The Sharks started out 0-2. Spring turned into summer. The school year ended. The U.S. team was back on American soil.
Still no Flat Sharkie.
Said Dr. Ruth: "Hmmm. It is kind of a metaphor for the distance between you. Literally, he is a world away. " (and silently to herself: Lady, get some real problems, OK?)
Said BFF Justine: "What's up with this Flat Sharkie thing? Why won't he participate?"
Said I: "Bastard. It is kind of an issue."
Until yesterday. There he was, Flat Sharkie, in my email in-box. Flat Sharkie scored press box seats to the Uruguay-Ghana game!
And again today! Flat Sharkie at Ellis Park before the Spain-Paraguay game.
Oh, Flat Sharkie! It's great to see you and to know you and your master really do miss us. Which is good, because the little girl who drew him was practicing her pouty face for when you returned sans pictures from cool places.
Dr. Ruth will be pleased to see you too. Progress, she will say, despite the seven time zones and gabillion gallons of ocean getting the way.
I hear Flat Sharkie will be visiting the Indian Ocean in Durban the next few days. Can't wait for a postcard.