Wednesday, February 23, 2011

161. Vacation Policy

Five weeks. The shortest amount of time we’d spent apart. It would be a breeze, right?

Wrong. Those five weeks turned out to be the longest five weeks of both of our lives, and I’d never missed him more.

The problem was, with my new job I was working until 6, not 5. So I didn’t get off work until it was midnight in London. He was already fast asleep, dreaming about Whataburger hamburgers or Fireside Pies bruschetta or me wearing lingerie while eating the bruschetta or whatever it is beautiful Brits dream about when they tuck themselves under their duvets.

At my old magazine job, I was able to talk to Cayden on gchat throughout the day between projects. I even had enough time in my day to send him lengthly emails while still getting all of my work done before 5.

It’s an understatement to say my new job was a slap in the face. A wake-up call. A bucket of ice cold water. I was so busy getting adjusted and going through training and diving right into the six accounts I was assigned during my second week, I literally did not have one minute during my work day to talk to Cayden. I didn’t even have one minute to sign into my Gmail account, much less have an actual conversation with the man of my dreams, or any of my other friends for that matter.

And I had so much to tell him! I wanted to tell him all about my new job, my six accounts.

I wanted to tell him about how one of my coworkers had been reading Fairytale Beginning every night with his wife since I started writing it, and his jaw dropped when he found out I was that Whitney.

I wanted to tell him how we play Minute to Win It games in our Friday meetings.

Oh, and you know what else I wanted to tell him? How on my first day I signed the new vacation policy: ZERO days of vacation until AFTER YOUR FIRST YEAR, then 5 days a year after that. I nearly burst into tears right there in front of all of my new coworkers, my new managers. Had I really turned down the Travel Editor position at a magazine to take a job with zero vacation days?? The flexible vacation policy was one of the main reasons I’d accepted the job in the first place. I was fucked.

Luckily, I’d gotten my trip to London approved before I was hired, so there was no way I was going to let the new policy stop me from seeing Cayden on Valentine’s Day. But that meant I wouldn’t be able to take off any days that year when Cayden would come to visit. We’d been planning a trip to Croatia in July for our 2-years-since-we-met-aversary. That was out of the question.

Cayden started calling me during his lunch break, so we could chat for a few minutes before I got ready for work. I’d try to duck out of the office for a few minutes during my “lunch break” to call him on his way home from work. We’d only get to talk for a short time, not long enough to tell him any of the work stories I wanted to tell him. We emailed each other before bed, but even those were shorter, both of us too exhausted to go into detail that late at night.

The thing was, Cayden was going through a lot of exciting things over in London as well. Things he wanted to tell me about, things he wished I were there for. He’d applied for jobs that classified in his “dream job” category and he scored interviews at three of them. First interviews turned into second interviews turned into third interviews turned into tests and trial presentations.

He tried to tell me all about it but loud cars would pass by while I was outside on the phone with him, dogs would bark, we’d have shotty signal.

I cried myself to sleep most nights, curling up on the pillow he’d slept on. It was almost like I’d gone cold turkey. I was addicted to him, and like that, my addiction was taken away from me. I cried to him during some of our phone calls, risking the bloodshot look at work that morning.

“Just four more weeks.”
“Just three more weeks,” he’d say.

The countdown did little to perk me up. It didn’t matter. It still meant there was more than five seconds between that time and the time I’d see Cayden again. And even five seconds was five seconds too many.

“Take your pick: Do you want to go to Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, or Rome?”

OK, that perked me up. It was my Valentine’s gift. He’d found cheap flights and cheap hotel rooms and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Not that that word would have ever left my mouth.

After a few Facebook polls and Twitter recommendations, Rome stood out as the perfect choice. Afterall, that’s where Valentine’s Day started. You can’t spell Romantic without the word Rome. OK, well, you can, but you get what I mean.

“There’s no one else I’d rather spend Valentines Day with in Rome,” he said.

Well, I sure hope not.

I stopped to thank my lucky stars. I was going to be in the Eternal City with my British boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. Was this really my life? How was it possible that a once self-proclaimed anti-romantic cynic was going to spend the most romantic day of the year in the most romantic city in the world? Oh, because after that she’d have to spend the next 10 months with zero vacation days and a monster long-distance phone bill. That’s how.

Cayden’s webcam stopped working. Our weekend webchats ended. I had to work late to get ahead on my accounts. He couldn’t call in the morning because he had a job interview during his lunch break. The whole world was against us.

And then, after what felt like the better part of a year, the five weeks was up and I was sitting in the window seat on a flight to London. Just like I had 8 months earlier when I’d made that ballsy trip to London to see a guy I’d only met once.

Oh, how much had changed since then.



  1. You have no idea how much I understand EXACTLY what that's like! I'd like to say it gets easier. It doesn't. It blows. But, then when we are together, it makes it even more special;)

  2. SO frustrating. The bad is bad and the good is oh so good. I just can't wait until it's all good!