does that stamp say two or six?

My fondness for nicknaming and titling people in my blogs is sometimes a way to make light of them, but often, to protect their identities from my international readership of stalkers. For instance, the twins and Mr. Hotness have personalities extending far beyond birth order and sex appeal. But they’re going to remain the twins and Mr. Hotness because I can’t ask two of them and haven’t asked the third if they mind my using their names. Meanwhile, I have to add another character to my blog’s play, this one, an empathic Australian artist and ukulele player I shall call “Uke.”

Uke and I have, of late, made a habit of getting together on a weekday afternoon to talk about everything from knitting to cookies to hippies, drink hot beverages, and do something artsy. I am very fond of this habit and hope it continues. Today’s session ended with a conversation about our parents’ generation and its approach to stress, or what could be called the “Just get on with things” approach. In our desire to not only admit to, but understand our stress, we often ponder too deeply what Mr. Hotness calls existential questions, and our parents would call contemplating our navels. We decided a compromise between the two would be perfect; to spend a little more time with our anxiety than our parents do, then get on with things.

Uke related a scene in Eat Pray Love when the author, overcome with emotion as she realizes she wants a divorce, asks herself, “What do I do now?”

Her inner response is, “Just go to bed.” Grief and fear loomed, but she needed to get on with sleep.

Sunday, I mentioned to Mr. Hotness, while scarfing down the eggs and bacon he’d thoughtfully prepared, that my time here was, if viewed logically and rationally, illogical and irrational. Why, I asked, was I here?

The question ricocheted this afternoon when my boss asked me when in February I planned to go back to the US. I thought we had clearly agreed that I was going to stay for a year. She thought I had six months, I think I have three, and she asked the question anyone would: How do you plan to avoid trouble ignoring the date on your passport?

Um… I’ll risk it?

She suggested this was, perhaps, not the best idea. Squinting at the stamp on my passport tonight, I found the date unreadable- it could say two months, it could say six. Fearful images of immigration officials were compounded by what I chose to interpret from the calm, friendly conversation with my boss. Ranting to my mom and Mr. Hotness ensued, navels were contemplated, existentialism loomed. Why am I living in the middle of nowhere, I demanded, earning pennies and missing buses, for a woman who wasn’t particularly excited to learn she could engage my spectacular childcare services for longer than originally thought? Moreover, why risk being banned from this wonderful country? More-moreover, why am I here, why would I go home when I have no home to go home to, what is the point, where is this going, and will I ever again be able to walk out of my own driveway without risking my life?!

Much muttering was had by all. My mom, who got her nickname/title before I started blogging and so will never get a proper introduction on these digital pages, has also always known what to say: yes dear, give it some more time, it’s a shame your boss is so unappreciative, give it some more time, yes dear. Mr. Hotness, on the other hand, is new in my life, freshly nicknamed, and in truth, the person whose opinion about this particular issue (or circus of issues) matter to me most in the immediate moment. Astonishingly, or not surprisingly at all based on how generally fantastic he is as a friend and lover, he wrote exactly the email I hoped to receive but couldn’t ask for.

And now I just need some sleep.

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