I feel so weary right now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and though I can’t really say if that is true, I do know that absence makes life harder. Well, that’s a simplification really. What do I mean by absence? What do I mean by life is harder? At this particular point in time, absence is the fact that my wife is away for a week and I am in effect a single parent of a teenager embarking on her preliminary school exams, a young woman whom I never really now if she is going to be in or out, and a toddler in the shape of a poodle.

Life is harder because I find it difficult to do half the things my wife does when she is around. I find it difficult to be up in the morning to see my child off to school. I find it difficult to remember to deliver the dry clothes which needs to be done before I put another wash one, and hang another up. I find it difficult to keep on top of the kitchen, keeping on top of my washing up is one thing, but all the stuff the other occupants generate and leave on the side; the things that miraculously disappeared when my wife was around. The table gets messier everyday, my wife shakes the mats and wipes the surface. I need to check my daughter has filled out forms, done homework, done revision. It is not that I didn’t do these things before, but just that I have to be more consistent now.

These things are little but they mount up. I still need to do my stuff but these extras mean that I don’t do my normal things so well. The areas where I sit are becoming more and more cluttered with blankets, books, mugs and the odd yoghurt pot or two. I did manage to put my used washing in the basket this morning, haven’t run the wash yet though. There are things that are half done. My recorder stand dismantled in the kitchen waiting for me to find some felt to glue onto it. The half opened box from Amazon sitting in the hallway. The portrait photos of my son that I finally managed to print today after battling with three computers and three printers, but still need to be put in an envelop which needs addressing and a stamp put on before putting posting. There are work things half finished because I didn’t have access to one particularly important file from here.

Then there are the things that my wife needs doing because she is away. Files to be found and sent on to others. Images to be edited and emailed to somebody. She wants to know how to install a font on her laptop which needs me to sit down and work out how to teach her remotely. My other daughter rang today bless her, she had finally processed all the flight information for our Canadian trip and checked that online was the best price; all I need to do is check with my wife they are okay and book them, simple I am sure.

In the middle of this my wife is having a great time down in London, visiting her parents, seeing friends and doing cultural things. She rings me up to share her joy and passion for her home city, it is not something I share. I am in the middle of doing work things on the computer at home. We talk, though mostly I listen and as my wife enthuses I realise that I have got up and am pacing the room and rubbing my scalp. I tell my wife was is happening, and interpret this as anxiety about something. She reigns her passion in and soon the call is over.

I guess I was anxious because she obviously prefers London to our home, and to put it simply, I don’t. I find London too noisy, too fast paced, and too crowded; I don’t think I could live there (not that I could afford it) and I am wondering if my wife and I will ever find a good compromise. We talk about returning to Edinburgh once the kids have left home but I am not sure I could cope with the daytime pressures of getting around. The night time is a different matter, darkness is peace; I love wondering the streets when most people are in bed. Cities do have greater opportunities for education and culture though, and I certainly miss that.

As I sit here typing, I can’t help thinking that I need to make my life simpler. The more people one lives with the more resources there are to do many different things. It strikes me that once one gets a partner one starts doing more things that focus on that relationship, we decide to buy property, get married, pool finance, buy more things, share in the efficiencies. More and more things seem to be collected, not just physical things but responsibilities as well. We have children and as our personal company grows, so normally does out work life.

I can’t believe that I am thinking this, but I think I need to start planning to downsize at least the physical things I own. I have lots of DVDs, how often I am going to watch them? I can stream Star Trek episodes instantly, why keep the box sets sitting behind the TV? The same could be said of CDs but I have always said that I want the original because the sound quality is better than compression schemes like MP3, but I listen more on my digital Walkman than I do on my CD player. The loss in quality may irritate me, but in the act of listening do I notice the difference? I think it depends on the music, if I am going to sing along then perhaps high fidelity isn’t required, but with instrumental music I sit down and really listen to, then yes I do want the CD.

I guess the same will be true for videos. I do get irritated when I see under sampling pixilation on flames or smoke (Star Trek Voyager opening titles comes to mind) but that passes and the story takes over, but I can’t imagine seeing a BBC nature documentary in anything but the best quality. And at the end of the day I do want quality in all that I have and do: if I buy a car, it will be the best value for money for the quality; a TV will be the best quality picture for a particular price range; the dog is the best breed we could have for our allergy sensitive family. I am always looking for the best in some respect. The best place to live is rather overwhelming to work out, and without an emotional connection I am going to have to be logical about it.

It is only logical after all when there are too many things to do, to reduce the number of things that need doing since it is rather unlikely that I can increase my capacity. I wonder how long it will take me to actually do something about it? Will the return of my wife allow me to forget about such plans? Perhaps I should do something before she gets back.

I guess what I am really saying is that trying to continue my life as normal when my wife  goes away just isn’t possible; I find it mentally hard to cope with.

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