14 February

India Journal: A Call From Dubai

by Jon Katz
Call From Dubai

Yesterday was the first time it was clear to me that Maria was gone. The farm was unsettled. Fate kept looking for her – she follows everything – the donkeys were waiting for their daily carrot and communion. The pony was restless. It was a strange feeling, when Maria’s plane took off, I confess it felt as if my heart and soul had gone with here, it felt as if only a shell remained.

But I have learned from dogs to shake off pain and confusion, I shook it off, blogged, fed the animals, shoveled, called Maria’s mother to give her an update, then drove over to the Mansion to give the staff some cookies and flowers for Valentine’s Day. Thanks to the blog readers, the Mansion residents had plenty of letters, cards and goodies to eat. The Mansion Valentine’s Day party is today, and I plan to be there with Red.

Knowing Maria was en route felt good, I could start to get used to this two-week reality. Voluntary loneliness is different from the other kind, and in some ways, I was looking forward to the chance to focus on my writing. She would be back in a blink. And I had a lot of shoveling to do. I shoveled a path to her studio so I could visit her there.

The day went quickly, I read and wrote a bit, went out for firewood, got to bed early. Fate is sleeping in bed with me, Red right on the floor. One is never quite alone on Bedlam Farm.

This morning, I got up at 4 a.m., checked my messages, Maria had arrived in Dubai, she would spent 16 hours there before heading to Kolkata late tonight, the airline had booked her a hotel room since they had canceled her flight and disrupted her plans.

I messaged her back that I was awake, and the cell phone rang almost instantly. How sweet to be able to hear her voice, she was tired but happy, fascinated by Dubai, everyone there was helpful and friendly, she was glad to have a chance to rest before flying on. We both talked about how strange it was to not be able to talk to one another and share what was happening in our lives.

Maria managed to blog from the airplane. She loves writing so much, and I smile remembering how horrified she was once at the thought of even having a blog. She is a natural writer, another thing for us to share. She couldn’t sleep much on the long flight, she read and watched a movie. Perhaps this trip is too exciting to sleep much. I can’t sleep much. The snow shoveling helps, I am truly tired as well.

I hadn’t realized how much we both share our lives with one another, how much we do that.

She sounded weary but happy. Maria has a lot of reporter in her, she loves to observe new things, we are always observing things and comparing notes.  Dubai is a very new thing for her.  She was fascinated by all of it. I could tell she was sleepy, and urged her to take a nap. She told me not to tell her what to do, but then, she decided to take a nap.

I was anxious on Sunday as she dodged various blizzards all day in her little car, but I am not in any way anxious about her trip to India. I think it a miraculous affirmation for her, and in some ways, for us.

She was plotting out her day in Dubai. She might take a tour, get a message, read by the pool. She is conscious that women dress differently there, she wants to be thoughtful about that. Everyone is nice and helpful, she said.

I think it is good for Maria as well as me to have Cassandra come in the morning. She has no problem telling me what to do, get up and go to work, she says, and don’t go outside and shovel. Are you telling me what to do?,  I asked. Yes, she said, and do what I am telling you to do. Okay, I see how it works.

Cassandra is a gift, she simply shows up and does her work and moves along. She is thorough and very competent, she has a wonderful smile. I shoveled for more hours yesterday, and then realized I should stop. I felt fine, but wanted to keep it that way.

The snow is relentless. I called Cassandra at work and told her about a ton of snow had just come off the roof and landed on the porch I had spent all afternoon shoveling. I said I just couldn’t shovel any more, and felt that I should stop.

She said she would be over early in the morning to take care of it,  I should just get to work.

She is all business, no drama. People like that are precious to know up here, I expect they are precious to know anywhere.

This is a good plan for me. When I got off the phone with Maria, I got up – it was 4 a.m. I stoked the fires, put the barn cats in the basement and fed them, started a laundry, put the heat on, brewed some tea, had a banana and got to work. Started on the blog, and then realized I wanted to write about the call from Dubai. I was nice, I am so excited about her gettiing to Calcutta. So is she.

I am updating Maria’s mother on her travel. She is anxious about the trip.

Life is good, crisis mystery just around the corner. Valentine’s Day Party at the Mansion at 2:30. Maria will call again this afternoon. Somehow, we always find a way to communicate, I told her that we are never really apart, even when she is thousands of miles away. Go take a nap, I said, call me if you can, don’t worry if you can’t.

Tomorrow morning, she said, she will be in Kolkata. I will make it there, she said. I know, I said. Get some rest.

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